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The Bible in Spain
by George Borrow
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Passing through the village, which he likewise informed me possessed baths, and was much visited by the people of Santiago, we shaped our course to the north-west, and by so doing doubled a mountain which rose majestically over our heads, its top crowned with bare and broken rocks, whilst on our right, on the other side of a spacious valley, was a high range, connected with the mountains to the northward of Saint James. On the summit of this range rose high embattled towers, which my guide informed me were those of Altamira, an ancient and ruined castle, formerly the principal residence in this province of the counts of that name. Turning now due west, we were soon at the bottom of a steep and rugged pass, which led to more elevated regions. The ascent cost us nearly half an hour, and the difficulties of the ground were such, that I more than once congratulated myself on having left my own horses behind, and being mounted on the gallant little pony which, accustomed to such paths, scrambled bravely forward, and eventually brought us in safety to the top of the ascent.

Here we entered a Gallegan cabin, or choza, for the purpose of refreshing the animal and ourselves. The quadruped ate some maize, whilst we two bipeds regaled ourselves on some broa and aguardiente, which a woman whom we found in the hut placed before us. I walked out for a few minutes to observe the aspect of the country, and on my return found my guide fast asleep on the bench where I had left him. He sat bolt upright, his back supported against the wall, and his legs pendulous, within three inches of the ground, being too short to reach it. I remained gazing upon him for at least five minutes, whilst he enjoyed slumbers seemingly as quiet and profound as those of death itself. His face brought powerfully to my mind some of those uncouth visages of saints and abbots which are occasionally seen in the niches of the walls of ruined convents. There was not the slightest gleam of vitality in his countenance, which for colour and rigidity might have been of stone, and which was as rude and battered as one of the stone heads at Icolmkill, which have braved the winds of twelve hundred years. I continued gazing on his face till I became almost alarmed, concluding that life might have departed from its harassed and fatigued tenement. On my shaking him rather roughly by the shoulder he slowly awoke, opening his eyes with a stare and then closing them again. For a few moments he was evidently unconscious of where he was. On my shouting to him, however, and inquiring whether he intended to sleep all day instead of conducting me to Finisterra, he dropped upon his legs, snatched up his hat, which lay on the table, and instantly ran out of the door, exclaiming, "Yes, yes, I remember—follow me, captain, and I will lead you to Finisterra in no time." I looked after him, and perceived that he was hurrying at a considerable pace in the direction in which we had hitherto been proceeding. "Stop," said I, "stop! will you leave me here with the pony? Stop, we have not paid the reckoning. Stop!" He, however, never turned his head for a moment, and in less than a minute was out of sight. The pony, which was tied to a crib at one end of the cabin, began now to neigh terrifically, to plunge, and to erect its tail and mane in a most singular manner. It tore and strained at the halter till I was apprehensive that strangulation would ensue. "Woman," I exclaimed, "where are you, and what is the meaning of all this?" But the hostess had likewise disappeared, and though I ran about the choza, shouting myself hoarse, no answer was returned. The pony still continued to scream and to strain at the halter more violently than ever. "Am I beset with lunatics?" I cried, and flinging down a peseta on the table, unloosed the halter, and attempted to introduce the bit into the mouth of the animal. This, however, I found impossible to effect. Released from the halter, the pony made at once for the door, in spite of all the efforts which I could make to detain it. "If you abandon me," said I, "I am in a pretty situation; but there is a remedy for everything!" with which words I sprang into the saddle, and in a moment more the creature was bearing me at a rapid gallop in the direction, as I supposed, of Finisterra. My position, however diverting to the reader, was rather critical to myself. I was on the back of a spirited animal, over which I had no control, dashing along a dangerous and unknown path. I could not discover the slightest vestige of my guide, nor did I pass anyone from whom I could derive any information. Indeed, the speed of the animal was so great, that even in the event of my meeting or overtaking a passenger, I could scarcely have hoped to exchange a word with him. "Is the pony trained to this work?" said I mentally. "Is he carrying me to some den of banditti, where my throat will be cut, or does he follow his master by instinct?" Both of these suspicions I however soon abandoned; the pony's speed relaxed, he appeared to have lost the road. He looked about uneasily: at last, coming to a sandy spot, he put his nostrils to the ground, and then suddenly flung himself down, and wallowed in true pony fashion. I was not hurt, and instantly made use of this opportunity to slip the bit into his mouth, which previously had been dangling beneath his neck; I then remounted in quest of the road.

This I soon found, and continued my way for a considerable time. The path lay over a moor, patched heath and furze, and here and there strewn with large stones, or rather rocks. The sun had risen high in the firmament, and burned fiercely. I passed several people, men and women, who gazed at me with surprise, wondering, probably, what a person of my appearance could be about without a guide in so strange a place. I inquired of two females whom I met whether they had seen my guide; but they either did not or would not understand me, and exchanging a few words with each other, in one of the hundred dialects of the Gallegan, passed on. Having crossed the moor, I came rather abruptly upon a convent, overhanging a deep ravine, at the bottom of which brawled a rapid stream.

It was a beautiful and picturesque spot: the sides of the ravine were thickly clothed with wood, and on the other side a tall, black hill uplifted itself. The edifice was large, and apparently deserted. Passing by it, I presently reached a small village, as deserted, to all appearance, as the convent, for I saw not a single individual, nor so much as a dog to welcome me with his bark. I proceeded, however, until I reached a fountain, the waters of which gushed from a stone pillar into a trough. Seated upon this last, his arms folded, and his eyes fixed upon the neighbouring mountain, I beheld a figure which still frequently recurs to my thoughts, especially when asleep and oppressed by the nightmare. This figure was my runaway guide.

Myself.—Good day to you, my gentleman. The weather is hot, and yonder water appears delicious. I am almost tempted to dismount and regale myself with a slight draught.

Guide.—Your worship can do no better. The day is, as you say, hot; you can do no better than drink a little of this water. I have myself just drunk. I would not, however, advise you to give that pony any, it appears heated and blown.

Myself.—It may well be so. I have been galloping at least two leagues in pursuit of a fellow who engaged to guide me to Finisterra, but who deserted me in a most singular manner, so much so, that I almost believe him to be a thief, and no true man. You do not happen to have seen him?

Guide.—What kind of a man might he be?

Myself.—A short, thick fellow, very much like yourself, with a hump upon his back, and, excuse me, of a very ill-favoured countenance.

Guide.—Ha, ha! I know him. He ran with me to this fountain, where he has just left me. That man, Sir Cavalier, is no thief. If he is any thing at all, he is a Nuveiro,—a fellow who rides upon the clouds, and is occasionally whisked away by a gust of wind. Should you ever travel with that man again, never allow him more than one glass of anise at a time, or he will infallibly mount into the clouds and leave you, and then he will ride and run till he comes to a water brook, or knocks his head against a fountain— then one draught, and he is himself again. So you are going to Finisterra, Sir Cavalier. Now it is singular enough, that a cavalier much of your appearance engaged me to conduct him there this morning. I however lost him on the way. So it appears to me our best plan to travel together until you find your own guide and I find my own master.

It might be about two o'clock in the afternoon, that we reached a long and ruinous bridge, seemingly of great antiquity, and which, as I was informed by my guide, was called the bridge of Don Alonzo. It crossed a species of creek, or rather frith, for the sea was at no considerable distance, and the small town of Noyo lay at our right. "When we have crossed that bridge, captain," said my guide, "we shall be in an unknown country, for I have never been farther than Noyo, and as for Finisterra, so far from having been there, I never heard of such a place; and though I have inquired of two or three people since we have been upon this expedition, they know as little about it as I do. Taking all things, however, into consideration, it appears to me that the best thing we can do is to push forward to Corcuvion, which is five mad leagues from hence, and which we may perhaps reach ere nightfall, if we can find the way or get any one to direct us; for, as I told you before, I know nothing about it." "To fine hands have I confided myself," said I: "however, we had best, as you say, push forward to Corcuvion, where, peradventure, we may hear something of Finisterra, and find a guide to conduct us." Whereupon, with a hop, skip, and a jump, he again set forward at a rapid pace, stopping occasionally at a choza, for the purpose, I suppose, of making inquiries, though I understood scarcely anything of the jargon in which he addressed the people, and in which they answered him.

We were soon in an extremely wild and hilly country, scrambling up and down ravines, wading brooks, and scratching our hands and faces with brambles, on which grew a plentiful crop of wild mulberries, to gather some of which we occasionally made a stop. Owing to the roughness of the way we made no great progress. The pony followed close at the back of the guide, so near, indeed, that its nose almost touched his shoulder. The country grew wilder and wilder, and since we had passed a water mill, we had lost all trace of human habitation. The mill stood at the bottom of a valley shaded by large trees, and its wheels were turning with a dismal and monotonous noise. "Do you think we shall reach Corcuvion to- night?" said I to the guide, as we emerged from this valley to a savage moor, which appeared of almost boundless extent.

Guide.—I do not, I do not. We shall in no manner reach Corcuvion to-night, and I by no means like the appearance of this moor. The sun is rapidly sinking, and then, if there come on a haze, we shall meet the Estadea.

Myself.—What do you mean by the Estadea?

Guide.—What do I mean by the Estadea? My master asks me what I mean by the Estadinha. {17} I have met the Estadinha but once, and it was upon a moor something like this. I was in company with several women, and a thick haze came on, and suddenly a thousand lights shone above our heads in the haze, and there was a wild cry, and the women fell to the ground screaming Estadea! Estadea! and I myself fell to the ground crying out Estadinha! The Estadea are the spirits of the dead which ride upon the haze, bearing candles in their hands. I tell you frankly, my master, that if we meet the assembly of the souls, I shall leave you at once, and then I shall run and run till I drown myself in the sea, somewhere about Muros. We shall not reach Corcuvion this night; my only hope is that we may find some choza upon these moors, where we may hide our heads from the Estadinha.

The night overtook us ere we had traversed the moor; there was, however, no haze, to the great joy of my guide, and a corner of the moon partially illumined our steps. Our situation, however, was dreary enough: we were upon the wildest heath of the wildest province of Spain, ignorant of our way, and directing our course we scarcely knew whither, for my guide repeatedly declared to me, that he did not believe that such a place as Finisterra existed, or if it did exist, it was some bleak mountain pointed out in a map. When I reflected on the character of this guide, I derived but little comfort or encouragement: he was at best evidently half witted, and was by his own confession occasionally seized with paroxysms which differed from madness in no essential respect; his wild escapade in the morning of nearly three leagues, without any apparent cause, and lastly his superstitious and frantic fears of meeting the souls of the dead upon this heath, in which event he intended, as he himself said, to desert me and make for the sea, operated rather powerfully upon my nerves. I likewise considered that it was quite possible that we might be in the route neither of Finisterra nor Corcuvion, and I therefore determined to enter the first cabin at which we should arrive, in preference to running the risk of breaking our necks by tumbling down some pit or precipice. No cabin, however, appeared in sight: the moor seemed interminable, and we wandered on until the moon disappeared, and we were left in almost total darkness.

At length we arrived at the foot of a steep ascent, up which a rough and broken pathway appeared to lead.

"Can this be our way?" said I to the guide.

"There appears to be no other for us, captain," replied the man; "let us ascend it by all means, and when we are it the top, if the sea be in the neighbourhood we shall see it."

I then dismounted, for to ride up such a pass in such darkness would have been madness. We clambered up in a line, first the guide, next the pony, with his nose as usual on his master's shoulder, of whom he seemed passionately fond, and I bringing up the rear, with my left hand grasping the animal's tail. We had many a stumble, and more than one fall: once, indeed, we were all rolling down the side of the hill together. In about twenty minutes we reached the summit, and looked around us, but no sea was visible: a black moor, indistinctly seen, seemed to spread on every side.

"We shall have to take up our quarters here till morning," said I.

Suddenly my guide seized me by the hand: "There is lume, Senhor," said he, "there is lume." I looked in the direction in which he pointed, and, after straining my eyes for some time, imagined that I perceived, far below and at some distance, a faint glow. "That is lume," shouted the guide, "and it proceeds from the chimney of a choza."

On descending the eminence, we roamed about for a considerable time, until we at last found ourselves in the midst of about six or eight black huts. "Knock at the door of one of these," said I to the guide, "and inquire of the people whether they can shelter us for the night." He did so, and a man presently made his appearance, bearing in his hand a lighted firebrand.

"Can you shelter a Cavalheiro from the night and the Estadea?" said my guide.

"From both, I thank God," said the man, who was an athletic figure, without shoes and stockings, and who, upon the whole, put me much in mind of a Munster peasant from the bogs. "Pray enter, gentlemen, we can accommodate you both and your cavalgadura besides."

We entered the choza, which consisted of three compartments; in the first we found straw, in the second cattle and ponies, and in the third the family, consisting of the father and mother of the man who admitted us, and his wife and children.

"You are a Catalan, sir Cavalier, and are going to your countryman at Corcuvion," said the man in tolerable Spanish. "Ah, you are brave people, you Catalans, and fine establishments you have on the Gallegan shores; pity that you take all the money out of the country."

Now, under all circumstances, I had not the slightest objection to pass for a Catalan; and I rather rejoiced that these wild people should suppose that I had powerful friends and countrymen in the neighbourhood who were, perhaps, expecting me. I therefore favoured their mistake, and began with a harsh Catalan accent to talk of the fish of Galicia, and the high duties on salt. The eye of my guide was upon me for an instant, with a singular expression, half serious, half droll; he however said nothing, but slapped his thigh as usual, and with a spring nearly touched the roof of the cabin with his grotesque head. Upon inquiry, I discovered that we were still two long leagues distant from Corcuvion, and that the road lay over moor and hill, and was hard to find. Our host now demanded whether we were hungry, and upon being answered in the affirmative, produced about a dozen eggs and some bacon. Whilst our supper was cooking, a long conversation ensued between my guide and the family, but as it was carried on in Gallegan, I tried in vain to understand it. I believe, however, that it principally related to witches and witchcraft, as the Estadea was frequently mentioned. After supper I demanded where I could rest: whereupon the host pointed to a trap-door in the roof, saying that above there was a loft where I could sleep by myself, and have clean straw. For curiosity's sake, I asked whether there was such a thing as a bed in the cabin.

"No," replied the man; "nor nearer than Corcuvion. I never entered one in my life, nor any one of my family: we sleep around the hearth, or among the straw with the cattle."

I was too old a traveller to complain, but forthwith ascended by a ladder into a species of loft, tolerably large and nearly empty, where I placed my cloak beneath my head, and lay down on the boards, which I preferred to the straw, for more reasons than one. I heard the people below talking in Gallegan for a considerable time, and could see the gleams of the fire through the interstices of the floor. The voices, however, gradually died away, the fire sank low and could no longer be distinguished. I dozed, started, dozed again, and dropped finally into a profound sleep, from which I was only roused by the crowing of the second cock.



CHAPTER XXX



Autumnal Morning—The World's End—Corcuvion—Duyo—The Cape—A Whale—The Outer Bay—The Arrest—The Fisher-Magistrate—Calros Rey—Hard of Belief—Where is your Passport?—The Beach—A Mighty Liberal—The Handmaid—The Grand Baintham—Eccentric Book— Hospitality.

It was a beautiful autumnal morning when we left the choza and pursued our way to Corcuvion. I satisfied our host by presenting him with a couple of pesetas, and he requested as a favour, that if on our return we passed that way, and were overtaken by the night, we would again take up our abode beneath his roof. This I promised, at the same time determining to do my best to guard against the contingency; as sleeping in the loft of a Gallegan hut, though preferable to passing the night on a moor or mountain, is anything but desirable.

So we again started at a rapid pace along rough bridle-ways and footpaths, amidst furze and brushwood. In about an hour we obtained a view of the sea, and directed by a lad, whom we found on the moor employed in tending a few miserable sheep, we bent our course to the north-west, and at length reached the brow of an eminence, where we stopped for some time to survey the prospect which opened before us.

It was not without reason that the Latins gave the name of Finnisterrae to this district. We had arrived exactly at such a place as in my boyhood I had pictured to myself as the termination of the world, beyond which there was a wild sea, or abyss, or chaos. I now saw far before me an immense ocean, and below me a long and irregular line of lofty and precipitous coast. Certainly in the whole world there is no bolder coast than the Gallegan shore, from the debouchement of the Minho to Cape Finisterra. It consists of a granite wall of savage mountains, for the most part serrated at the top, and occasionally broken, where bays and firths like those of Vigo and Pontevedra intervene, running deep into the land. These bays and firths are invariably of an immense depth, and sufficiently capacious to shelter the navies of the proudest maritime nations.

There is an air of stern and savage grandeur in everything around, which strongly captivates the imagination. This savage coast is the first glimpse of Spain which the voyager from the north catches, or he who has ploughed his way across the wide Atlantic: and well does it seem to realize all his visions of this strange land. "Yes," he exclaims, "this is indeed Spain—stern flinty Spain—land emblematic of those spirits to which she has given birth. From what land but that before me could have proceeded those portentous beings, who astounded the Old World and filled the New with horror and blood: Alba and Philip, Cortez and Pizarro: stern colossal spectres looming through the gloom of bygone years, like yonder granite mountains through the haze, upon the eye of the mariner. Yes, yonder is indeed Spain; flinty, indomitable Spain; land emblematic of its sons!"

As for myself, when I viewed that wide ocean and its savage shore, I cried, "Such is the grave, and such are its terrific sides; those moors and wilds, over which I have passed, are the rough and dreary journey of life. Cheered with hope, we struggle along through all the difficulties of moor, bog, and mountain, to arrive at—what? The grave and its dreary sides. Oh, may hope not desert us in the last hour: hope in the Redeemer and in God!"

We descended from the eminence, and again lost sight of the sea amidst ravines and dingles, amongst which patches of pine were occasionally seen. Continuing to descend, we at last came, not to the sea, but to the extremity of a long narrow firth, where stood a village or hamlet; whilst at a small distance, on the Western side of the firth, appeared one considerably larger, which was indeed almost entitled to the appellation of town. This last was Corcuvion; the first, if I forget not, was called Ria de Silla. We hastened on to Corcuvion, where I bade my guide make inquiries respecting Finisterra. He entered the door of a wine-house, from which proceeded much noise and vociferation, and presently returned, informing me that the village of Finisterra was distant about a league and a half. A man, evidently in a state of intoxication, followed him to the door: "Are you bound for Finisterra, Cavalheiros?" he shouted.

"Yes, my friend," I replied, "we are going thither."

"Then you are going amongst a flock of drunkards (fato de barrachos)," he answered. "Take care that they do not play you a trick."

We passed on, and striking across a sandy peninsula at the back of the town, soon reached the shore of an immense bay, the north- westernmost end of which was formed by the far-famed cape of Finisterra, which we now saw before us stretching far into the sea.

Along a beach of dazzling white sand, we advanced towards the cape, the bourne of our journey. The sun was shining brightly, and every object was illumined by his beams. The sea lay before us like a vast mirror, and the waves which broke upon the shore were so tiny as scarcely to produce a murmur. On we sped along the deep winding bay, overhung by gigantic hills and mountains. Strange recollections began to throng upon my mind. It was upon this beach that, according to the tradition of all ancient Christendom, Saint James, the patron saint of Spain, preached the Gospel to the heathen Spaniards. Upon this beach had once stood an immense commercial city, the proudest in all Spain. This now desolate bay had once resounded with the voices of myriads, when the keels and commerce of all the then known world were wafted to Duyo.

"What is the name of this village?" said I to a woman, as we passed by five or six ruinous houses at the bend of the bay, ere we entered upon the peninsula of Finisterra.

"This is no village," said the Gallegan, "this is no village, Sir Cavalier, this is a city, this is Duyo."

So much for the glory of the world! These huts were all that the roaring sea and the tooth of time had left of Duyo, the great city! Onward now to Finisterra.

It was midday when we reached the village of Finisterra, consisting of about one hundred houses, and built on the southern side of the peninsula, just before it rises into the huge bluff head which is called the Cape. We sought in vain for an inn or venta, where we might stable our beast; at one moment we thought that we had found one, and had even tied the animal to the manger. Upon our going out, however, he was instantly untied and driven forth into the street. The few people whom we saw appeared to gaze upon us in a singular manner. We, however, took little notice of these circumstances, and proceeded along the straggling street until we found shelter in the house of a Castilian shopkeeper, whom some chance had brought to this corner of Galicia,—this end of the world. Our first care was to feed the animal, who now began to exhibit considerable symptoms of fatigue. We then requested some refreshment for ourselves; and in about an hour a tolerably savoury fish, weighing about three pounds, and fresh from the bay, was prepared for us by an old woman who appeared to officiate as housekeeper. Having finished our meal, I and my uncouth companion went forth and prepared to ascend the mountain.

We stopped to examine a small dismantled fort or battery facing the bay; and whilst engaged in this examination, it more than once occurred to me that we were ourselves the objects of scrutiny and investigation: indeed I caught a glimpse of more than one countenance peering upon us through the holes and chasms of the walls. We now commenced ascending Finisterra; and making numerous and long detours, we wound our way up its flinty sides. The sun had reached the top of heaven, whence he showered upon us perpendicularly his brightest and fiercest rays. My boots were torn, my feet cut, and the perspiration streamed from my brow. To my guide, however, the ascent appeared to be neither toilsome nor difficult. The heat of the day for him had no terrors, no moisture was wrung from his tanned countenance; he drew not one short breath; and hopped upon the stones and rocks with all the provoking agility of a mountain goat. Before we had accomplished one half of the ascent, I felt myself quite exhausted. I reeled and staggered. "Cheer up, master mine, be of good cheer, and have no care," said the guide. "Yonder I see a wall of stones; lie down beneath it in the shade." He put his long and strong arm round my waist, and though his stature compared with mine was that of a dwarf, he supported me, as if I had been a child, to a rude wall which seemed to traverse the greatest part of the hill, and served probably as a kind of boundary. It was difficult to find a shady spot: at last he perceived a small chasm, perhaps scooped by some shepherd as a couch, in which to enjoy his siesta. In this he laid me gently down, and taking off his enormous hat, commenced farming me with great assiduity. By degrees I revived, and after having rested for a considerable time, I again attempted the ascent, which, with the assistance of my guide, I at length accomplished.

We were now standing at a great altitude between two bays: the wilderness of waters before us. Of all the ten thousand barks which annually plough those seas in sight of that old cape, not one was to be descried. It was a blue shiny waste, broken by no object save the black head of a spermaceti whale, which would occasionally show itself at the top, casting up thin jets of brine. The principal bay, that of Finisterra, as far as the entrance, was beautifully variegated by an immense shoal of sardinhas, on whose extreme skirts the monster was probably feasting. From the northern side of the cape we looked down upon a smaller bay, the shore of which was overhung by rocks of various and grotesque shapes; this is called the outer bay, or, in the language of the country, Praia do mar de fora: a fearful place in seasons of wind and tempest, when the long swell of the Atlantic pouring in, is broken into surf and foam by the sunken rocks with which it abounds. Even in the calmest day there is a rumbling and a hollow roar in that bay which fill the heart with uneasy sensations.

On all sides there was grandeur and sublimity. After gazing from the summit of the Cape for nearly an hour we descended.

On reaching the house where we had taken up our temporary habitation, we perceived that the portal was occupied by several men, some of whom were reclining on the floor drinking wine out of small earthen pans, which are much used in this part of Galicia. With a civil salutation I passed on, and ascended the staircase to the room in which we had taken our repast. Here there was a rude and dirty bed, on which I flung myself, exhausted with fatigue. I determined to take a little repose, and in the evening to call the people of the place together, to read a few chapters of the Scripture, and then to address them with a little Christian exhortation. I was soon asleep, but my slumbers were by no means tranquil. I thought I was surrounded with difficulties of various kinds amongst rocks and ravines, vainly endeavouring to extricate myself; uncouth visages showed themselves amidst the trees and in the hollows, thrusting out cloven tongues and uttering angry cries. I looked around for my guide, but could not find him; methought, however, that I heard his voice down a deep dingle. He appeared to be talking of me. How long I might have continued in these wild dreams I know not. I was suddenly, however, seized roughly by the shoulder and nearly dragged from the bed. I looked up in amazement, and by the light of the descending sun I beheld hanging over me a wild and uncouth figure; it was that of an elderly man, built as strong as a giant, with much beard and whiskers, and huge bushy eyebrows, dressed in the habiliments of a fisherman; in his hand was a rusty musket.

Myself.—Who are you and what do you want?

Figure.—Who I am matters but little. Get up and follow me; it is you I want.

Myself.—By what authority do you thus presume to interfere with me?

Figure.—By the authority of the justicia of Finisterra. Follow me peaceably, Calros, or it will be the worse for you.

"Calros," said I, "what does the person mean?" I thought it, however, most prudent to obey his command, and followed him down the staircase. The shop and the portal were now thronged with the inhabitants of Finisterra, men, women, and children; the latter for the most part in a state of nudity, and with bodies wet and dripping, having been probably summoned in haste from their gambols in the brine. Through this crowd the figure whom I have attempted to describe pushed his way with an air of authority.

On arriving in the street, he laid his heavy hand upon my arm, not roughly however. "It is Calros! it is Calros!" said a hundred voices; "he has come to Finisterra at last, and the justicia have now got hold of him." Wondering what all this could mean, I attended my strange conductor down the street. As we proceeded, the crowd increased every moment, following and vociferating. Even the sick were brought to the door to obtain a view of what was going forward and a glance at the redoubtable Calros. I was particularly struck by the eagerness displayed by one man, a cripple, who, in spite of the entreaties of his wife, mixed with the crowd, and having lost his crutch, hopped forward on one leg, exclaiming,—"Carracho! tambien voy yo!"

We at last reached a house of rather larger size than the rest; my guide having led me into a long low room, placed me in the middle of the floor, and then hurrying to the door, he endeavoured to repulse the crowd who strove to enter with us. This he effected, though not without considerable difficulty, being once or twice compelled to have recourse to the butt of his musket, to drive back unauthorized intruders. I now looked round the room. It was rather scantily furnished: I could see nothing but some tubs and barrels, the mast of a boat, and a sail or two. Seated upon the tubs were three or four men coarsely dressed, like fishermen or shipwrights. The principal personage was a surly ill-tempered- looking fellow of about thirty-five, whom eventually I discovered to be the alcalde of Finisterra, and lord of the house in which we now were. In a corner I caught a glimpse of my guide, who was evidently in durance, two stout fishermen standing before him, one with a musket and the other with a boat-hook. After I had looked about me for a minute, the alcalde, giving his whiskers a twist, thus addressed me:-

"Who are you, where is your passport, and what brings you to Finisterra?"

Myself.—I am an Englishman. Here is my passport, and I came to see Finisterra.

This reply seemed to discomfit them for a moment. They looked at each other, then at my passport. At length the alcalde, striking it with his finger, bellowed forth:

"This is no Spanish passport; it appears to be written in French."

Myself.—I have already told you that I am a foreigner. I of course carry a foreign passport.

Alcalde.—Then you mean to assert that you are not Calros Rey.

Myself.—I never heard before of such a king, nor indeed of such a name.

Alcalde.—Hark to the fellow: he has the audacity to say that he has never heard of Calros the pretender, who calls himself king.

Myself.—If you mean by Calros, the pretender Don Carlos, all I can reply is, that you can scarcely be serious. You might as well assert that yonder poor fellow, my guide, whom I see you have made prisoner, is his nephew, the infante Don Sebastian.

Alcalde.—See, you have betrayed yourself; that is the very person we suppose him to be.

Myself.—It is true that they are both hunchbacks. But how can I be like Don Carlos? I have nothing the appearance of a Spaniard, and am nearly a foot taller than the pretender.

Alcalde.—That makes no difference; you of course carry many waistcoats about you, by means of which you disguise yourself, and appear tall or low according to your pleasure.

This last was so conclusive an argument that I had of course nothing to reply to it. The alcalde looked around him in triumph, as if he had made some notable discovery. "Yes, it is Calros; it is Calros," said the crowd at the door. "It will be as well to have these men shot instantly," continued the alcalde; "if they are not the two pretenders, they are at any rate two of the factious."

"I am by no means certain that they are either one or the other," said a gruff voice.

The justicia of Finisterra turned their eyes in the direction from which these words proceeded, and so did I. Our glances rested upon the figure who held watch at the door. He had planted the barrel of his musket on the floor, and was now leaning his chin against the butt.

"I am by no means certain that they are either one or the other," repeated he, advancing forward. "I have been examining this man," pointing to myself, "and listening whilst he spoke, and it appears to me that after all he may prove an Englishman; he has their very look and voice. Who knows the English better than Antonio de la Trava, and who has a better right? Has he not sailed in their ships; has he not eaten their biscuit; and did he not stand by Nelson when he was shot dead?"

Here the alcalde became violently incensed. "He is no more an Englishman than yourself," he exclaimed; "if he were an Englishman would he have come in this manner, skulking across the land? Not so I trow. He would have come in a ship, recommended to some of us, or to the Catalans. He would have come to trade, to buy; but nobody knows him in Finisterra, nor does he know anybody: and the first thing, moreover, that he does when he reaches this place is to inspect the fort, and to ascend the mountain where, no doubt, he has been marking out a camp. What brings him to Finisterra if he is neither Calros nor a bribon of a faccioso?"

I felt that there was a good deal of justice in some of these remarks, and I was aware, for the first time, that I had, indeed, committed a great imprudence in coming to this wild place, and among these barbarous people, without being able to assign any motive which could appear at all valid in their eyes. I endeavoured to convince the alcalde that I had come across the country for the purpose of making myself acquainted with the many remarkable objects which it contained, and of obtaining information respecting the character and condition of the inhabitants. He could understand no such motives. "What did you ascend the mountain for?" "To see prospects." "Disparate! I have lived at Finisterra forty years and never ascended that mountain. I would not do it in a day like this for two ounces of gold. You went to take altitudes, and to mark out a camp." I had, however, a staunch friend in old Antonio, who insisted, from his knowledge of the English, that all I had said might very possibly be true. "The English," said he, "have more money than they know what to do with, and on that account they wander all over the world, paying dearly for what no other people care a groat for." He then proceeded, notwithstanding the frowns of the alcalde, to examine me in the English language. His own entire knowledge of this tongue was confined to two words—knife and fork, which words I rendered into Spanish by their equivalents, and was forthwith pronounced an Englishman by the old fellow, who, brandishing his musket, exclaimed:-

"This man is not Calros; he is what he declares himself to be, an Englishman, and whosoever seeks to injure him, shall have to do with Antonio de la Trava el valiente de Finisterra." No person sought to impugn this verdict, and it was at length determined that I should be sent to Corcuvion, to be examined by the alcalde mayor of the district. "But," said the alcalde of Finisterra, "what is to be done with the other fellow? He at least is no Englishman. Bring him forward, and let us hear what he has to say for himself. Now, fellow, who are you, and what is your master?"

Guide.—I am Sebastianillo, a poor broken mariner of Padron, and my master for the present is the gentleman whom you see, the most valiant and wealthy of all the English. He has two ships at Vigo laden with riches. I told you so when you first seized me up there in our posada.

Alcalde.—Where is your passport?

Guide.—I have no passport. Who would think of bringing a passport to such a place as this, where I don't suppose there are two individuals who can read? I have no passport; my master's passport of course includes me.

Alcalde.—It does not. And since you have no passport, and have confessed that your name is Sebastian, you shall be shot. Antonio de la Trava, do you and the musketeers lead this Sebastianillo forth, and shoot him before the door.

Antonio de la Trava.—With much pleasure, Senor Alcalde, since you order it. With respect to this fellow, I shall not trouble myself to interfere. He at least is no Englishman. He has more the look of a wizard or nuveiro; one of those devils who raise storms and sink launches. Moreover, he says he is from Padron, and those of that place are all thieves and drunkards. They once played me a trick, and I would gladly be at the shooting of the whole pueblo.

I now interfered, and said that if they shot the guide they must shoot me too; expatiating at the same time on the cruelty and barbarity of taking away the life of a poor unfortunate fellow who, as might be seen at the first glance, was only half witted; adding, moreover, that if any person was guilty in this case it was myself, as the other could only be considered in the light of a servant acting under my orders.

"The safest plan after all," said the alcalde, "appears to be, to send you both prisoners to Corcuvion, where the head alcalde can dispose of you as he thinks proper. You must, however, pay for your escort; for it is not to be supposed that the housekeepers of Finisterra have nothing else to do than to ramble about the country with every chance fellow who finds his way to this town." "As for that matter," said Antonio, "I will take charge of them both. I am the valiente of Finisterra, and fear no two men living. Moreover, I am sure that the captain here will make it worth my while, else he is no Englishman. Therefore let us be quick and set out for Corcuvion at once, as it is getting late. First of all, however, captain, I must search you and your baggage. You have no arms, of course? But it is best to make all sure."

Long ere it was dark I found myself again on the pony, in company with my guide, wending our way along the beach in the direction of Corcuvion. Antonio de la Trava tramped heavily on before, his musket on his shoulder.

Myself.—Are you not afraid, Antonio, to be thus alone with two prisoners, one of whom is on horseback? If we were to try, I think we could overpower you.

Antonio de la Trava.—I am the valiente do Finisterra, and I fear no odds.

Myself.—Why do you call yourself the valiente of Finisterra?

Antonio de la Trava.—The whole district call me so. When the French came to Finisterra, and demolished the fort, three perished by my hand. I stood on the mountain, up where I saw you scrambling to-day. I continued firing at the enemy, until three detached themselves in pursuit of me. The fools! two perished amongst the rocks by the fire of this musket, and as for the third, I beat his head to pieces with the stock. It is on that account that they call me the valiente of Finisterra.

Myself.—How came you to serve with the English fleet? I think I heard you say that you were present when Nelson fell.

Antonio de la Trava.—I was captured by your countrymen, captain; and as I had been a sailor from my childhood, they were glad of my services. I was nine months with them, and assisted at Trafalgar. I saw the English admiral die. You have something of his face, and your voice, when you spoke, sounded in my ears like his own. I love the English, and on that account I saved you. Think not that I would toil along these sands with you if you were one of my own countrymen. Here we are at Duyo, captain. Shall we refresh?

We did refresh, or rather Antonio de la Trava refreshed, swallowing pan after pan of wine, with a thirst which seemed unquenchable. "That man was a greater wizard than myself," whispered Sebastian, my guide, "who told us that the drunkards of Finisterra would play us a trick." At length the old hero of the Cape slowly rose, saying, that we must hasten on to Corcuvion, or the night would overtake us by the way.

"What kind of person is the alcalde to whom you are conducting me?" said I.

"Oh, very different from him of Finisterra," replied Antonio. "This is a young Senorito, lately arrived from Madrid. He is not even a Gallegan. He is a mighty liberal, and it is owing chiefly to his orders that we have lately been so much on the alert. It is said that the Carlists are meditating a descent on these parts of Galicia. Let them only come to Finisterra, we are liberals there to a man, and the old valiente is ready to play the same part as in the time of the French. But, as I was telling you before, the alcalde to whom I am conducting you is a young man, and very learned, and if he thinks proper, he can speak English to you, even better than myself, notwithstanding I was a friend of Nelson, and fought by his side at Trafalgar."

It was dark night before we reached Corcuvion. Antonio again stopped to refresh at a wine-shop, after which he conducted us to the house of the alcalde. His steps were by this time not particularly steady, and on arriving at the gate of the house, he stumbled over the threshold and fell. He got up with an oath, and instantly commenced thundering at the door with the stock of his musket. "Who is it?" at length demanded a soft female voice in Gallegan. "The valiente of Finisterra," replied Antonio; whereupon the gate was unlocked, and we beheld before us a very pretty female with a candle in her hand. "What brings you here so late, Antonio?" she inquired. "I bring two prisoners, mi pulida," replied Antonio. "Ave Maria!" she exclaimed, "I hope they will do no harm." "I will answer for one," replied the old man; "but, as for the other, he is a nuveiro, and has sunk more ships than all his brethren in Galicia. But be not afraid, my beauty," he continued, as the female made the sign of the cross: "first lock the gate, and then show me the way to the alcalde. I have much to tell him." The gate was locked, and bidding us stay below in the courtyard, Antonio followed the young woman up a stone stair, whilst we remained in darkness below.

After the lapse of about a quarter of an hour we again saw the candle gleam upon the staircase, and the young female appeared. Coming up to me, she advanced the candle to my features, on which she gazed very intently. After a long scrutiny she went to my guide, and having surveyed him still more fixedly, she turned to me, and said, in her best Spanish, "Senhor Cavalier, I congratulate you on your servant. He is the best-looking mozo in all Galicia. Vaya! if he had but a coat to his back, and did not go barefoot, I would accept him at once as a novio; but I have unfortunately made a vow never to marry a poor man, but only one who has got a heavy purse and can buy me fine clothes. So you are a Carlist, I suppose? Vaya! I do not like you the worse for that. But, being so, how went you to Finisterra, where they are all Christinos and negros? Why did you not go to my village? None would have meddled with you there. Those of my village are of a different stamp to the drunkards of Finisterra. Those of my village never interfere with honest people. Vaya! how I hate that drunkard of Finisterra who brought you, he is so old and ugly; were it not for the love which I bear to the Senhor Alcalde, I would at once unlock the gate and bid you go forth, you and your servant, the buen mozo."

Antonio now descended. "Follow me," said he; "his worship the alcalde will be ready to receive you in a moment." Sebastian and myself followed him upstairs to a room where, seated behind a table, we beheld a young man of low stature but handsome features and very fashionably dressed. He appeared to be inditing a letter, which, when he had concluded, he delivered to a secretary to be transcribed. He then looked at me for a moment fixedly, and the following conversation ensued between us:-

Alcalde.—I see that you are an Englishman, and my friend Antonio here informs me that you have been arrested at Finisterra.

Myself.—He tells you true; and but for him I believe that I should have fallen by the hands of those savage fishermen.

Alcalde.—The inhabitants of Finisterra are brave, and are all liberals. Allow me to look at your passport? Yes, all in form. Truly it was very ridiculous that they should have arrested you as a Carlist.

Myself.—Not only as a Carlist, but as Don Carlos himself.

Alcalde.—Oh! most ridiculous; mistake a countryman of the grand Baintham for such a Goth!

Myself.—Excuse me, Sir, you speak of the grand somebody.

Alcalde.—The grand Baintham. He who has invented laws for all the world. I hope shortly to see them adopted in this unhappy country of ours.

Myself.—Oh! you mean Jeremy Bentham. Yes! a very remarkable man in his way.

Alcalde.—In his way! In all ways. The most universal genius which the world ever produced:- a Solon, a Plato, and a Lope de Vega.

Myself.—I have never read his writings. I have no doubt that he was a Solon; and as you say, a Plato. I should scarcely have thought, however, that he could be ranked as a poet with Lope de Vega.

Alcalde.—How surprising! I see, indeed, that you know nothing of his writings, though an Englishman. Now, here am I, a simple alcalde of Galicia, yet I possess all the writings of Baintham on that shelf, and I study them day and night.

Myself.—You doubtless, Sir, possess the English Language.

Alcalde.—I do. I mean that part of it which is contained in the writings of Baintham. I am most truly glad to see a countryman of his in these Gothic wildernesses. I understand and appreciate your motives for visiting them: excuse the incivility and rudeness which you have experienced. But we will endeavour to make you reparation. You are this moment free: but it is late; I must find you a lodging for the night. I know one close by which will just suit you. Let us repair thither this moment. Stay, I think I see a book in your hand.

Myself.—The New Testament.

Alcalde.—What book is that?

Myself.—A portion of the sacred writings, the Bible.

Alcalde.—Why do you carry such a book with you?

Myself.—One of my principal motives in visiting Finisterra was to carry this book to that wild place.

Alcalde.—Ha, ha! how very singular. Yes, I remember. I have heard that the English highly prize this eccentric book. How very singular that the countrymen of the grand Baintham should set any value upon that old monkish book.

It was now late at night, and my new friend attended me to the lodging which he had destined for me, and which was at the house of a respectable old female, where I found a clean and comfortable room. On the way I slipped a gratuity into the hand of Antonio, and on my arrival, formally, and in the presence of the alcalde, presented him with the Testament, which I requested he would carry back to Finisterra, and keep in remembrance of the Englishman in whose behalf he had so effectually interposed.

Antonio.—I will do so, your worship; and when the winds blow from the north-west, preventing our launches from putting to sea, I will read your present. Farewell, my captain, and when you next come to Finisterra I hope it will be in a valiant English bark, with plenty of contrabando on board, and not across the country on a pony, in company with nuveiros and men of Padron.

Presently arrived the handmaid of the alcalde with a basket, which she took into the kitchen, where she prepared an excellent supper for her master's friend. On its being served up the alcalde bade me farewell, having first demanded whether he could in any way forward my plans.

"I return to Saint James to-morrow," I replied, "and I sincerely hope that some occasion will occur which will enable me to acquaint the world with the hospitality which I have experienced from so accomplished a scholar as the Alcalde of Corcuvion."



CHAPTER XXXI



Coruna—Crossing the Bay—Ferrol—The Dockyard—Where are we now?— Greek Ambassador—Lantern-light—The Ravine—Viveiro—Evening— Marsh and Quagmire—Fair Words and Fair Money—The Leathern Girth— Eyes of Lynx—The Knavish Guide.

From Corcuvion I returned to Saint James and Coruna, and now began to make preparation for directing my course to the Asturias. In the first place I parted with my Andalusian horse, which I considered unfit for the long and mountainous journey I was about to undertake; his constitution having become much debilitated from his Gallegan travels. Owing to horses being exceedingly scarce at Coruna, I had no difficulty in disposing of him at a far higher price than he originally cost me. A young and wealthy merchant of Coruna, who was a national guardsman, became enamoured of his glossy skin and long mane and tail. For my own part, I was glad to part with him for more reasons than one; he was both vicious and savage, and was continually getting me into scrapes in the stables of the posadas where we slept or baited. An old Castilian peasant, whose pony he had maltreated, once said to me, "Sir Cavalier, if you have any love or respect for yourself, get rid I beseech you of that beast, who is capable of proving the ruin of a kingdom." So I left him behind at Coruna, where I subsequently learned that he became glandered and died. Peace to his memory!

From Coruna I crossed the bay to Ferrol, whilst Antonio with our remaining horse followed by land, a rather toilsome and circuitous journey, although the distance by water is scarcely three leagues. I was very sea-sick during the passage, and lay almost senseless at the bottom of the small launch in which I had embarked, and which was crowded with people. The wind was adverse, and the water rough. We could make no sail, but were impelled along by the oars of five or six stout mariners, who sang all the while Gallegan ditties. Suddenly the sea appeared to have become quite smooth, and my sickness at once deserted me. I rose upon my feet and looked around. We were in one of the strangest places imaginable. A long and narrow passage overhung on either side by a stupendous barrier of black and threatening rocks. The line of the coast was here divided by a natural cleft, yet so straight and regular that it seemed not the work of chance but design. The water was dark and sullen, and of immense depth. This passage, which is about a mile in length, is the entrance to a broad basin, at whose farther extremity stands the town of Ferrol.

Sadness came upon me as soon as I entered this place. Grass was growing in the streets, and misery and distress stared me in the face on every side. Ferrol is the grand naval arsenal of Spain, and has shared in the ruin of the once splendid Spanish navy: it is no longer thronged with those thousand shipwrights who prepared for sea the tremendous three-deckers and long frigates, the greater part of which were destroyed at Trafalgar. Only a few ill-paid and half-starved workmen still linger about, scarcely sufficient to repair any guarda costa which may put in dismantled by the fire of some English smuggling schooner from Gibraltar. Half the inhabitants of Ferrol beg their bread; and amongst these, as it is said, are not unfrequently found retired naval officers, many of them maimed or otherwise wounded, who are left to pine in indigence; their pensions or salaries having been allowed to run three or four years in arrear, owing to the exigencies of the times. A crowd of importunate beggars followed me to the posada, and even attempted to penetrate to the apartment to which I was conducted. "Who are you?" said I to a woman who flung herself at my feet, and who bore in her countenance evident marks of former gentility. "A widow, sir," she replied, in very good French; "a widow of a brave officer, once admiral of this port." The misery and degradation of modern Spain are nowhere so strikingly manifested as at Ferrol.

Yet even here there is still much to admire. Notwithstanding its present state of desolation, it contains some good streets, and abounds with handsome houses. The alameda is planted with nearly a thousand elms, of which almost all are magnificent trees, and the poor Ferrolese, with the genuine spirit of localism so prevalent in Spain, boast that their town contains a better public walk than Madrid, of whose prado, when they compare the two, they speak in terms of unmitigated contempt. At one end of this alameda stands the church, the only one in Ferrol. To this church I repaired the day after my arrival, which was Sunday. I found it quite insufficient to contain the number of worshippers who, chiefly from the country, not only crowded the interior, but, bare-headed, were upon their knees before the door to a considerable distance down the walk.

Parallel with the alameda extends the wall of the naval arsenal and dock. I spent several hours in walking about these places, to visit which it is necessary to procure a written permission from the captain-general of Ferrol. They filled me with astonishment. I have seen the royal dockyards of Russia and England, but for grandeur of design and costliness of execution, they cannot for a moment compare with these wonderful monuments of the bygone naval pomp of Spain. I shall not attempt to describe them, but content myself with observing, that the oblong basin, which is surrounded with a granite mole, is capacious enough to permit a hundred first- rates to lie conveniently in ordinary: but instead of such a force, I saw only a sixty-gun frigate and two brigs lying in this basin, and to this inconsiderable number of vessels is the present war marine of Spain reduced.

I waited for the arrival of Antonio two or three days at Ferrol, and still he came not: late one evening, however, as I was looking down the street, I perceived him advancing, leading our only horse by the bridle. He informed me that, at about three leagues from Coruna, the heat of the weather and the flies had so distressed the animal that it had fallen down in a kind of fit, from which it had been only relieved by copious bleeding, on which account he had been compelled to halt for a day upon the road. The horse was evidently in a very feeble state; and had a strange rattling in its throat, which alarmed me it first. I however administered some remedies, and in a few days deemed him sufficiently recovered to proceed.

We accordingly started from Ferrol; having first hired a pony for myself, and a guide who was to attend us as far as Rivadeo, twenty leagues from Ferrol, and on the confines of the Asturias. The day at first was fine, but ere we reached Novales, a distance of three leagues, the sky became overcast, and a mist descended, accompanied by a drizzling rain. The country through which we passed was very picturesque. At about two in the afternoon we could descry through the mist the small fishing town of Santa Marta on our left, with its beautiful bay. Travelling along the summit of a line of hills, we presently entered a chestnut forest, which appeared to be without limit: the rain still descended, and kept up a ceaseless pattering among the broad green leaves. "This is the commencement of the autumnal rains," said the guide. "Many is the wetting that you will get, my masters, before you reach Oviedo." "Have you ever been as far as Oviedo?" I demanded. "No," he replied, "and once only to Rivadeo, the place to which I am now conducting you, and I tell you frankly that we shall soon be in wildernesses where the way is hard to find, especially at night, and amidst rain and waters. I wish I were fairly back to Ferrol, for I like not this route, which is the worst in Galicia, in more respects than one; but where my master's pony goes, there must I go too; such is the life of us guides." I shrugged my shoulders at this intelligence, which was by no means cheering, but made no answer. At length, about nightfall, we emerged from the forest, and presently descended into a deep valley at the foot of lofty hills.

"Where are we now?" I demanded of the guide, as we crossed a rude bridge at the bottom of the valley, down which a rivulet swollen by the rain foamed and roared. "In the valley of Coisa doiro," he replied; "and it is my advice that we stay here for the night, and do not venture among those hills, through which lies the path to Viveiro; for as soon as we get there, adios! I shall be bewildered, which will prove the destruction of us all." "Is there a village nigh?" "Yes, the village is right before us, and we shall be there in a moment." We soon reached the village, which stood amongst some tall trees at the entrance of a pass which led up amongst the hills. Antonio dismounted and entered two or three of the cabins, but presently came to me, saying, "We cannot stay here, mon maitre, without being devoured by vermin; we had better be amongst the hills than in this place; there is neither fire nor light in these cabins, and the rain is streaming through the roofs." The guide, however, refused to proceed: "I could scarcely find my way amongst those hills by daylight," he cried, surlily, "much less at night, midst storm and bretima." We procured some wine and maize bread from one of the cottages. Whilst we were partaking of these, Antonio said, "Mon maitre, the best thing we can do in our present situation, is to hire some fellow of this village to conduct us through the hills to Viveiro. There are no beds in this place, and if we lie down in the litter in our damp clothes we shall catch a tertian of Galicia. Our present guide is of no service, we must therefore find another to do his duty." Without waiting for a reply, he flung down the crust of broa which he was munching and disappeared. I subsequently learned that he went to the cottage of the alcalde, and demanded, in the Queen's name, a guide for the Greek ambassador, who was benighted on his way to the Asturias. In about ten minutes I again saw him, attended by the local functionary, who, to my surprise, made me a profound bow, and stood bare-headed in the rain. "His excellency," shouted Antonio, "is in need of a guide to Viveiro. People of our description are not compelled to pay for any service which they may require; however, as his excellency has bowels of compassion, he is willing to give three pesetas to any competent person who will accompany him to Viveiro, and as much bread and wine as he can eat and drink on his arrival." "His excellency shall be served," said the alcalde; "however, as the way is long and the path is bad, and there is much bretima amongst the hills, it appears to me that, besides the bread and wine, his excellency can do no less than offer four pesetas to the guide who may be willing to accompany him to Viveiro; and I know no one better than my own son-in-law, Juanito." "Content, senor alcalde," I replied; "produce the guide, and the extra peseta shall be forthcoming in due season."

Soon appeared Juanito with a lantern in his hand. We instantly set forward. The two guides began conversing in Gallegan. "Mon maitre," said Antonio, "this new scoundrel is asking the old one what he thinks we have got in our portmanteaus." Then, without awaiting my answer, he shouted, "Pistols, ye barbarians! Pistols, as ye shall learn to your cost, if you do not cease speaking in that gibberish and converse in Castilian." The Gallegans were silent, and presently the first guide dropped behind, whilst the other with the lantern moved before. "Keep in the rear," said Antonio to the former, "and at a distance: know one thing moreover, that I can see behind as well as before. Mon maitre," said he to me, "I don't suppose these fellows will attempt to do us any harm, more especially as they do not know each other; it is well, however, to separate them, for this is a time and place which might tempt any one to commit robbery and murder too."

The rain still continued to fall uninterruptedly, the path was rugged and precipitous, and the night was so dark that we could only see indistinctly the hills which surrounded us. Once or twice our guide seemed to have lost his way: he stopped, muttered to himself, raised his lantern on high, and would then walk slowly and hesitatingly forward. In this manner we proceeded for three or four hours, when I asked the guide how far we were from Viveiro. "I do not know exactly where we are, your worship," he replied, "though I believe we are in the route. We can scarcely, however, be less than two mad leagues from Viveiro." "Then we shall not arrive there before morning," interrupted Antonio, "for a mad league of Galicia means at least two of Castile; and perhaps we are doomed never to arrive there, if the way thither leads down this precipice." As he spoke, the guide seemed to descend into the bowels of the earth. "Stop," said I, "where are you going?" "To Viveiro, Senhor," replied the fellow; "this is the way to Viveiro, there is no other; I now know where we are." The light of the lantern shone upon the dark red features of the guide, who had turned round to reply, as he stood some yards down the side of a dingle or ravine overgrown with thick trees, beneath whose leafy branches a frightfully steep path descended. I dismounted from the pony, and delivering the bridle to the other guide, said, "Here is your master's horse, if you please you may load him down that abyss, but as for myself I wash my hands of the matter." The fellow, without a word of reply, vaulted into the saddle, and with a vamos, Perico! to the pony, impelled the creature to the descent. "Come, Senhor," said he with the lantern, "there is no time to be lost, my light will be presently extinguished, and this is the worst bit in the whole road." I thought it very probable that he was about to lead us to some den of cut-throats, where we might be sacrificed; but taking courage, I seized our own horse by the bridle, and followed the fellow down the ravine amidst rocks and brambles. The descent lasted nearly ten minutes, and ere we had entirely accomplished it, the light in the lantern went out, and we remained in nearly total darkness.

Encouraged, however, by the guide, who assured us there was no danger, we at length reached the bottom of the ravine; here we encountered a rill of water, through which we were compelled to wade as high as the knee. In the midst of the water I looked up and caught a glimpse of the heavens through the branches of the trees, which all around clothed the shelving sides of the ravine and completely embowered the channel of the stream: to a place more strange and replete with gloom and horror no benighted traveller ever found his way. After a short pause we commenced scaling the opposite bank, which we did not find so steep as the other, and a few minutes' exertion brought us to the top.

Shortly afterwards the rain abated, and the moon arising cast a dim light through the watery mists; the way had become less precipitous, and in about two hours we descended to the shore of an extensive creek, along which we proceeded till we reached a spot where many boats and barges lay with their keels upward upon the sand. Presently we beheld before us the walls of Viveiro, upon which the moon was shedding its sickly lustre. We entered by a lofty and seemingly ruinous archway, and the guide conducted us at once to the posada.

Every person in Viveiro appeared to be buried in profound slumber; not so much as a dog saluted us with his bark. After much knocking we were admitted into the posada, a large and dilapidated edifice. We had scarcely housed ourselves and horses when the rain began to fall with yet more violence than before, attended with much thunder and lightning. Antonio and I, exhausted with fatigue, betook ourselves to flock beds in a ruinous chamber, into which the rain penetrated through many a cranny, whilst the guides ate bread and drank wine till the morning.

When I arose I was gladdened by the sight of a fine day. Antonio forthwith prepared a savoury breakfast of stewed fowl, of which we stood in much need after the ten league journey of the preceding day over the ways which I have attempted to describe. I then walked out to view the town, which consists of little more than one long street, on the side of a steep mountain thickly clad with forests and fruit trees. At about ten we continued our journey, accompanied by our first guide, the other having returned to Coisa doiro some hours previously.

Our route throughout this day was almost constantly within sight of the shores of the Cantabrian sea, whose windings we followed. The country was barren, and in many parts covered with huge stones: cultivated spots, however, were to be seen, where vines were growing. We met with but few human habitations. We however journeyed on cheerfully, for the sun was once more shining in full brightness, gilding the wild moors, and shining upon the waters of the distant sea, which lay in unruffled calmness.

At evening fall we were in the neighbourhood of the shore, with a range of wood-covered hills on our right. Our guide led us towards a creek bordered by a marsh, but he soon stopped and declared that he did not know whither he was conducting us.

"Mon maitre," said Antonio, "let us be our own guides; it is, as you see, of no use to depend upon this fellow, whose whole science consists in leading people into quagmires."

We therefore turned aside and proceeded along the marsh for a considerable distance, till we reached a narrow path which led us into a thick wood, where we soon became completely bewildered. On a sudden, after wandering about a considerable time, we heard the noise of water, and presently the clack of a wheel. Following the sound, we arrived at a low stone mill, built over a brook; here we stopped and shouted, but no answer was returned. "The place is deserted," said Antonio; "here, however, is a path, which, if we follow it, will doubtless lead us to some human habitation." So we went along the path, which, in about ten minutes, brought us to the door of a cabin, in which we saw lights. Antonio dismounted and opened the door: "Is there any one here who can conduct us to Rivadeo?" he demanded.

"Senhor," answered a voice, "Rivadeo is more than five leagues from here, and, moreover, there is a river to cross!"

"Then to the next village," continued Antonio.

"I am a vecino of the next village, which is on the way to Rivadeo," said another voice, "and I will lead you thither, if you will give me fair words, and, what is better, fair money."

A man now came forth, holding in his hand a large stick. He strode sturdily before us, and in less than half an hour led us out of the wood. In another half hour he brought us to a group of cabins situated near the sea; he pointed to one of these, and having received a peseta, bade us farewell.

The people of the cottage willingly consented to receive us for the night: it was much more cleanly and commodious than the wretched huts of the Gallegan peasantry in general. The ground floor consisted of a keeping room and stable, whilst above was a long loft, in which were some neat and comfortable flock beds. I observed several masts and sails of boats. The family consisted of two brothers with their wives and families; one was a fisherman, but the other, who appeared to be the principal person, informed me that he had resided for many years in service at Madrid, and having amassed a small sum, he had at length returned to his native village, where he had purchased some land which he farmed. All the family used the Castilian language in their common discourse, and on inquiry I learned that the Gallegan was not much spoken in that neighbourhood. I have forgotten the name of this village, which is situated on the estuary of the Foz, which rolls down from Mondonedo. In the morning we crossed this estuary in a large boat with our horses, and about noon arrived at Rivadeo.

"Now, your worship," said the guide who had accompanied us from Ferrol, "I have brought you as far as I bargained, and a hard journey it has been; I therefore hope you will suffer Perico and myself to remain here to-night at your expense, and to-morrow we will go back; at present we are both sorely tired."

"I never mounted a better pony than Perico," said I, "and never met with a worse guide than yourself. You appear to be perfectly ignorant of the country, and have done nothing but bring us into difficulties. You may, however, stay here for the night, as you say you are tired, and to-morrow you may return to Ferrol, where I counsel you to adopt some other trade." This was said at the door of the posada of Rivadeo.

"Shall I lead the horses to a stable?" said the fellow.

"As you please," said I.

Antonio looked after him for a moment, as he was leading the animals away, and then shaking his head followed slowly after. In about a quarter of an hour he returned, laden with the furniture of our own horse, and with a smile upon his countenance: "Mon maitre," said he, "I have throughout the journey had a bad opinion of this fellow, and now I have detected him: his motive in requesting permission to stay, was a desire to purloin something from us. He was very officious in the stable about our horse, and I now miss the new leathern girth which secured the saddle, and which I observed him looking at frequently on the road. He has by this time doubtless hid it somewhere; we are quite secure of him, however, for he has not yet received the hire for the pony, nor the gratuity for himself."

The guide returned just as he had concluded speaking. Dishonesty is always suspicious. The fellow cast a glance upon us, and probably beholding in our countenances something which he did not like, he suddenly said, "Give me the horse-hire and my own propina, for Perico and I wish to be off instantly."

"How is this?" said I; "I thought you and Perico were both fatigued, and wished to rest here for the night; you have soon recovered from your weariness."

"I have thought over the matter," said the fellow, "and my master will be angry if I loiter here: pay us, therefore, and let us go."

"Certainly," said I, "if you wish it. Is the horse furniture all right?"

"Quite so," said he; "I delivered it all to your servant."

"It is all here," said Antonio, "with the exception of the leathern girth."

"I have not got it," said the guide.

"Of course not," said I. "Let us proceed to the stable, we shall perhaps find it there."

To the stable we went, which we searched through: no girth, however, was forthcoming. "He has got it buckled round his middle beneath his pantaloons, mon maitre," said Antonio, whose eyes were moving about like those of a lynx; "I saw the protuberance as he stooped down. However, let us take no notice: he is here surrounded by his countrymen, who, if we were to seize him, might perhaps take his part. As I said before, he is in our power, as we have not paid him."

The fellow now began to talk in Gallegan to the by-standers (several persons having collected), wishing the Denho to take him if he knew anything of the missing property. Nobody, however, seemed inclined to take his part; and those who listened, only shrugged their shoulders. We returned to the portal of the posada, the fellow following us, clamouring for the horse-hire and propina. We made him no answer, and at length he went away, threatening to apply to the justicia; in about ten minutes, however, he came running back with the girth in his hand: "I have just found it," said he, "in the street: your servant dropped it."

I took the leather and proceeded very deliberately to count out the sum to which the horse-hire amounted, and having delivered it to him in the presence of witnesses, I said, "During the whole journey you have been of no service to us whatever; nevertheless, you have fared like ourselves, and have had all you could desire to eat and drink. I intended, on your leaving us, to present you, moreover, with a propina of two dollars; but since, notwithstanding our kind treatment, you endeavoured to pillage us, I will not give you a cuarto: go, therefore, about your business."

All the audience expressed their satisfaction at this sentence, and told him that he had been rightly served, and that he was a disgrace to Galicia. Two or three women crossed themselves, and asked him if he was not afraid that the Denho, whom he had invoked, would take him away. At last, a respectable-looking man said to him: "Are you not ashamed to have attempted to rob two innocent strangers?"

"Strangers!" roared the fellow, who was by this time foaming with rage; "Innocent strangers, carracho! they know more of Spain and Galicia too than the whole of us. Oh, Denho, that servant is no man but a wizard, a nuveiro.—Where is Perico?"

He mounted Perico, and proceeded forthwith to another posada. The tale, however, of his dishonesty had gone before him, and no person would house him; whereupon he returned on his steps, and seeing me looking out of the window of the house, he gave a savage shout, and shaking his fist at me, galloped out of the town, the people pursuing him with hootings and revilings.



CHAPTER XXXII



Martin of Rivadeo—The Factious Mare—Asturians—Luarca—The Seven Bellotas—Hermits—The Asturian's Tale—Strange Guests—The Big Servant—Batuschca

"What may your business be?" said I to a short, thick, merry-faced fellow in a velveteen jerkin and canvas pantaloons, who made his way into my apartment, in the dusk of the evening.

"I am Martin of Rivadeo, your worship," replied the man, "an alquilador by profession; I am told that you want a horse for your journey into the Asturias to-morrow, and of course a guide: now, if that be the case, I counsel you to hire myself and mare."

"I am become tired of guides," I replied; "so much so that I was thinking of purchasing a pony, and proceeding without any guide at all. The last which we had was an infamous character."

"So I have been told, your worship, and it was well for the bribon that I was not in Rivadeo when the affair to which you allude occurred. But he was gone with the pony Perico before I came back, or I would have bled the fellow to a certainty with my knife. He is a disgrace to the profession, which is one of the most honourable and ancient in the world. Perico himself must have been ashamed of him, for Perico, though a pony, is a gentleman, one of many capacities, and well known upon the roads. He is only inferior to my mare."

"Are you well acquainted with the road to Oviedo?" I demanded.

"I am not, your worship; that is, no farther than Luarca, which is the first day's journey. I do not wish to deceive you, therefore let me go with you no farther than that place; though perhaps I might serve for the whole journey, for though I am unacquainted with the country, I have a tongue in my head, and nimble feet to run and ask questions. I will, however, answer for myself no farther than Luarca, where you can please yourselves. Your being strangers is what makes me wish to accompany you, for I like the conversation of strangers, from whom I am sure to gain information both entertaining and profitable. I wish, moreover, to convince you that we guides of Galicia are not all thieves, which I am sure you will not suppose if you only permit me to accompany you as far as Luarca."

I was so much struck with the fellow's good humour and frankness, and more especially by the originality of character displayed in almost every sentence which he uttered, that I readily engaged him to guide us to Luarca; whereupon he left me, promising to be ready with his mare at eight next morning.

Rivadeo is one of the principal seaports of Galicia, and is admirably situated for commerce, on a deep firth, into which the river Mirando debouches. It contains many magnificent buildings, and an extensive square or plaza, which is planted with trees. I observed several vessels in the harbour; and the population, which is rather numerous, exhibited none of those marks of misery and dejection which I had lately observed among the Ferrolese.

On the morrow Martin of Rivadeo made his appearance at the appointed hour with his mare. It was a lean haggard animal, not much larger than a pony; it had good points, however, and was very clean in its hinder legs, and Martin insisted that it was the best animal of its kind in all Spain. "It is a factious mare," said he, "and I believe an Alavese. When the Carlists came here it fell lame, and they left it behind, and I purchased it for a dollar. It is not lame now, however, as you shall soon see."

We had now reached the firth which divides Galicia from the Asturias. A kind of barge was lying about two yards from the side of the quay, waiting to take us over. Towards this Martin led his mare, and giving an encouraging shout, the creature without any hesitation sprang over the intervening space into the barge. "I told you she was a facciosa," said Martin; "none but a factious animal would have taken such a leap."

We all embarked in the barge and crossed over the firth, which is in this place nearly a mile broad, to Castro Pol, the first town in the Asturias. I now mounted the factious mare, whilst Antonio followed on my own horse. Martin led the way, exchanging jests with every person whom he met on the road, and occasionally enlivening the way with an extemporaneous song.

We were now in the Asturias, and about noon we reached Navias, a small fishing town, situate on a ria or firth; in the neighbourhood are ragged mountains, called the Sierra de Buron, which stand in the shape of a semi-circle. We saw a small vessel in the harbour, which we subsequently learned was from the Basque provinces, come for a cargo of cider or sagadua, the beverage so dearly loved by the Basques. As we passed along the narrow street, Antonio was hailed with an "Ola" from a species of shop in which three men, apparently shoemakers, were seated. He stopped for some time to converse with them, and when he joined us at the posada where we halted, I asked him who they were: "Mon maitre," said he, "ce sont des messieurs de ma connoissance. I have been fellow servant at different times with all three; and I tell you beforehand, that we shall scarcely pass through a village in this country where I shall not find an acquaintance. All the Asturians, at some period of their lives, make a journey to Madrid, where, if they can obtain a situation, they remain until they have scraped up sufficient to turn to advantage in their own country; and as I have served in all the great houses in Madrid, I am acquainted with the greatest part of them. I have nothing to say against the Asturians, save that they are close and penurious whilst at service; but they are not thieves, neither at home nor abroad, and though we must have our wits about us in their country, I have heard we may travel from one end of it to the other without the slightest fear of being either robbed or ill treated, which is not the case in Galicia, where we were always in danger of having our throats cut."

Leaving Navias, we proceeded through a wild desolate country, till we reached the pass of Baralla, which lies up the side of a huge wall of rocks, which at a distance appear of a light green colour, though perfectly bare of herbage or plants of any description.

"This pass," said Martin of Rivadeo, "bears a very evil reputation, and I should not like to travel it after sunset. It is not infested by robbers, but by things much worse, the duendes of two friars of Saint Francis. It is said that in the old time, long before the convents were suppressed, two friars of the order of Saint Francis left their convent to beg; it chanced that they were very successful, but as they were returning at nightfall, by this pass, they had a quarrel about what they had collected, each insisting that he had done his duty better than the other; at last, from high words they fell to abuse, and from abuse to blows. What do you think these demons of friars did? They took off their cloaks, and at the end of each they made a knot, in which they placed a large stone, and with these they thrashed and belaboured each other till both fell dead. Master, I know not which are the worst plagues, friars, curates, or sparrows:

"May the Lord God preserve us from evil birds three: From all friars and curates and sparrows that be; For the sparrows eat up all the corn that we sow, The friars drink down all the wine that we grow, Whilst the curates have all the fair dames at their nod: From these three evil curses preserve us, Lord God."

In about two hours from this time we reached Luarca, the situation of which is most singular. It stands in a deep hollow, whose sides are so precipitous that it is impossible to descry the town until you stand just above it. At the northern extremity of this hollow is a small harbour, the sea entering it by a narrow cleft. We found a large and comfortable posada, and by the advice of Martin, made inquiry for a fresh guide and horse; we were informed, however, that all the horses of the place were absent, and that if we waited for their return, we must tarry for two days. "I had a presentiment," said Martin, "when we entered Luarca, that we were not doomed to part at present. You must now hire my mare and me as far as Giyon, from whence there is a conveyance to Oviedo. To tell you the truth, I am by no means sorry that the guides are absent, for I am pleased with your company, as I make no doubt you are with mine. I will now go and write a letter to my wife at Rivadeo, informing her that she must not expect to see me back for several days." He then went out of the room singing the following stanza:

"A handless man a letter did write, A dumb dictated it word for word: The person who read it had lost his sight, And deaf was he who listened and heard."

Early the next morning we emerged from the hollow of Luarca; about an hour's riding brought us to Caneiro, a deep and romantic valley of rocks, shaded by tall chestnut trees. Through the midst of this valley rushes a rapid stream, which we crossed in a boat. "There is not such a stream for trout in all the Asturias," said the ferryman; "look down into the waters and observe the large stones over which it flows; now in the proper season and in fine weather, you cannot see those stones for the multitude of fish which cover them."

Leaving the valley behind us, we entered into a wild and dreary country, stony and mountainous. The day was dull and gloomy, and all around looked sad and melancholy. "Are we in the way for Giyon and Oviedo?" demanded Martin of an ancient female, who stood at the door of a cottage.

"For Giyon and Oviedo!" replied the crone; "many is the weary step you will have to make before you reach Giyon and Oviedo. You must first of all crack the bellotas: you are just below them."

"What does she mean by cracking the bellotas?" demanded I of Martin of Rivadeo.

"Did your worship never hear of the seven bellotas?" replied our guide. "I can scarcely tell you what they are, as I have never seen them; I believe they are seven hills which we have to cross, and are called bellotas from some resemblance to acorns which it is fancied they bear. I have often heard of these acorns, and am not sorry that I have now an opportunity of seeing them, though it is said that they are rather hard things for horses to digest."

The Asturian mountains in this part rise to a considerable altitude. They consist for the most part of dark granite, covered here and there with a thin layer of earth. They approach very near to the sea, to which they slope down in broken ridges, between which are deep and precipitous defiles, each with its rivulet, the tribute of the hills to the salt flood. The road traverses these defiles. There are seven of them, which are called, in the language of the country, Las siete bellotas. Of all these, the most terrible is the midmost, down which rolls an impetuous torrent. At the upper end of it rises a precipitous wall of rock, black as soot, to the height of several hundred yards; its top, as we passed, was enveloped with a veil of bretima. From this gorge branch off, on either side, small dingles or glens, some of them so overgrown with trees and copse-wood, that the eye is unable to penetrate the obscurity beyond a few yards.

"Fine places would some of these dingles prove for hermitages," said I to Martin of Rivadeo. "Holy men might lead a happy life there on roots and water, and pass many years absorbed in heavenly contemplation, without ever being disturbed by the noise and turmoil of the world."

"True, your worship," replied Martin; "and perhaps on that very account there are no hermitages in the barrancos of the seven bellotas. Our hermits had little inclination for roots and water, and had no kind of objection to be occasionally disturbed in their meditations. Vaya! I never yet saw a hermitage that was not hard by some rich town or village, or was not a regular resort for all the idle people in the neighbourhood. Hermits are not fond of living in dingles, amongst wolves and foxes; for how in that case could they dispose of their poultry? A hermit of my acquaintance left, when he died, a fortune of seven hundred dollars to his niece, the greatest part of which he scraped up by fattening turkeys."

At the top of this bellota we found a wretched venta, where we refreshed ourselves, and then continued our journey. Late in the afternoon we cleared the last of these difficult passes. The wind began now to rise, bearing on its wings a drizzling rain. We passed by Soto Luino, and shaping our course through a wild but picturesque country, we found ourselves about nightfall at the foot of a steep hill, up which led a narrow bridle-way, amidst a grove of lofty trees. Long before we had reached the top it had become quite dark, and the rain had increased considerably. We stumbled along in the obscurity, leading our horses, which were occasionally down on their knees, owing to the slipperiness of the path. At last we accomplished the ascent in safety, and pushing briskly forward, we found ourselves, in about half an hour, at the entrance of Muros, a large village situated just on the declivity of the farther side of the hill.

A blazing fire in the posada soon dried our wet garments, and in some degree recompensed us for the fatigues which we had undergone in scrambling up the bellotas. A rather singular place was this same posada of Muros. It was a large rambling house, with a spacious kitchen, or common room, on the ground floor. Above stairs was a large dining-apartment, with an immense oak table, and furnished with cumbrous leathern chairs with high backs, apparently three centuries old at least. Communicating with this apartment was a wooden gallery, open to the air, which led to a small chamber, in which I was destined to sleep, and which contained an old-fashioned tester-bed with curtains. It was just one of those inns which romance writers are so fond of introducing in their descriptions, especially when the scene of adventure lies in Spain. The host was a talkative Asturian.

The wind still howled, and the rain descended in torrents. I sat before the fire in a very drowsy state, from which I was presently aroused by the conversation of the host. "Senor," said he, "it is now three years since I beheld foreigners in my house. I remember it was about this time of the year, and just such a night as this, that two men on horseback arrived here. What was singular, they came without any guide. Two more strange-looking individuals I never yet beheld with eye-sight. I shall never forget them. The one was as tall as a giant, with much tawny moustache, like the coat of a badger, growing about his mouth. He had a huge ruddy face, and looked dull and stupid, as he no doubt was, for when I spoke to him, he did not seem to understand, and answered in a jabber, valgame Dios! so wild and strange, that I remained staring at him with mouth and eyes open. The other was neither tall nor red-faced, nor had he hair about his mouth, and, indeed, he had very little upon his head. He was very diminutive, and looked like a jorobado (hunchback); but, valgame Dios! such eyes, like wild cats', so sharp and full of malice. He spoke as good Spanish as I myself do, and yet he was no Spaniard. A Spaniard never looked like that man. He was dressed in a zamarra, with much silver and embroidery, and wore an Andalusian hat, and I soon found that he was master, and that the other was servant.

"Valgame Dios! what an evil disposition had that same foreign jorobado, and yet he had much grace, much humour, and said occasionally to me such comical things, that I was fit to die of laughter. So he sat down to supper in the room above, and I may as well tell you here, that he slept in the same chamber where your worship will sleep to-night, and his servant waited behind his chair. Well, I had curiosity, so I sat myself down at the table too, without asking leave. Why should I? I was in my own house, and an Asturian is fit company for a king, and is often of better blood. Oh, what a strange supper was that. If the servant made the slightest mistake in helping him, up would start the jorobado, jump upon his chair, and seizing the big giant by the hair, would cuff him on both sides of the face, till I was afraid his teeth would have fallen out. The giant, however, did not seem to care about it much. He was used to it, I suppose. Valgame Dios! if he had been a Spaniard, he would not have submitted to it so patiently. But what surprised me most was, that after beating his servant, the master would sit down, and the next moment would begin conversing and laughing with him as if nothing had happened, and the giant also would laugh and converse with his master, for all the world as if he had not been beaten.

"You may well suppose, Senor, that I understood nothing of their discourse, for it was all in that strange unchristian tongue in which the giant answered me when I spoke to him; the sound of it is still ringing in my ears. It was nothing like other languages. Not like Bascuen, not like the language in which your worship speaks to my namesake Signor Antonio here. Valgame Dios! I can compare it to nothing but the sound a person makes when he rinses his mouth with water. There is one word which I think I still remember, for it was continually proceeding from the giant's lips, but his master never used it.

"But the strangest part of the story is yet to be told. The supper was ended, and the night was rather advanced, the rain still beat against the windows, even as it does at this moment. Suddenly the jorobado pulled out his watch. Valgame Dios! such a watch! I will tell you one thing, Senor, that I could purchase all the Asturias, and Muros besides, with the brilliants which shone about the sides of that same watch: the room wanted no lamp, I trow, so great was the splendour which they cast. So the jorobado looked at his watch, and then said to me, I shall go to rest. He then took the lamp and went through the gallery to his room, followed by his big servant. Well, Senor, I cleared away the things, and then waited below for the servant, for whom I had prepared a comfortable bed, close by my own. Senor, I waited patiently for an hour, till at last my patience was exhausted, and I ascended to the supper apartment, and passed through the gallery till I came to the door of the strange guest. Senor, what do you think I saw at the door?"

"How should I know?" I replied. "His riding boots perhaps."

"No, Senor, I did not see his riding boots; but, stretched on the floor with his head against the door, so that it was impossible to open it without disturbing him, lay the big servant fast asleep, his immense legs reaching nearly the whole length of the gallery. I crossed myself, as well I might, for the wind was howling even as it is now, and the rain was rushing down into the gallery in torrents; yet there lay the big servant fast asleep, without any covering, without any pillow, not even a log, stretched out before his master's door.

"Senor, I got little rest that night, for I said to myself, I have evil wizards in my house, folks who are not human. Once or twice I went up and peeped into the gallery, but there still lay the big servant fast asleep, so I crossed myself and returned to my bed again."

"Well," said I, "and what occurred next day?"

"Nothing particular occurred next day: the jorobado came down and said comical things to me in good Spanish, and the big servant came down, but whatever he said, and he did not say much, I understood not, for it was in that disastrous jabber. They stayed with me throughout the day till after supper-time, and then the jorobado gave me a gold ounce, and mounting their horses, they both departed as strangely as they had come, in the dark night, I know not whither."

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