Skip to main content

Full text of "Carmen"

See other formats

***The Project Gutenberg Etext of Carmen, by Prosper Merimee***

This is the basis for the opera Carmen.

Copyright laws are changing all over the world, be sure to check

the copyright laws for your country before posting these files!!

Please take a look at the important information in this header.

We encourage you to keep this file on your own disk, keeping an

electronic path open for the next readers.  Do not remove this.

**Welcome To The World of Free Plain Vanilla Electronic Texts**

**Etexts Readable By Both Humans and By Computers, Since 1971**

*These Etexts Prepared By Hundreds of Volunteers and Donations*

Information on contacting Project Gutenberg to get Etexts, and

further information is included below.  We need your donations.


by Prosper Merimee

Translated by Lady Mary Loyd

January, 2001  [Etext #2465]

***The Project Gutenberg Etext of Carmen, by Prosper Merimee***

*****This file should be named carmn10.txt or******

Corrected EDITIONS of our etexts get a new NUMBER, carmn11.txt

VERSIONS based on separate sources get new LETTER, carmn10a.txt

Etext prepared by Dagny,

and John Bickers,

Project Gutenberg Etexts are usually created from multiple editions,

all of which are in the Public Domain in the United States, unless a

copyright notice is included.  Therefore, we usually do NOT keep any

of these books in compliance with any particular paper edition.

We are now trying to release all our books one month in advance

of the official release dates, leaving time for better editing.

Please note:  neither this list nor its contents are final till

midnight of the last day of the month of any such announcement.

The official release date of all Project Gutenberg Etexts is at

Midnight, Central Time, of the last day of the stated month.  A

preliminary version may often be posted for suggestion, comment

and editing by those who wish to do so.  To be sure you have an

up to date first edition [] please check file sizes

in the first week of the next month.  Since our ftp program has

a bug in it that scrambles the date [tried to fix and failed] a

look at the file size will have to do, but we will try to see a

new copy has at least one byte more or less.

Information about Project Gutenberg (one page)

We produce about two million dollars for each hour we work.  The

time it takes us, a rather conservative estimate, is fifty hours

to get any etext selected, entered, proofread, edited, copyright

searched and analyzed, the copyright letters written, etc.  This

projected audience is one hundred million readers.  If our value

per text is nominally estimated at one dollar then we produce $2

million dollars per hour this year as we release thirty-six text

files per month, or 432 more Etexts in 1999 for a total of 2000+

If these reach just 10% of the computerized population, then the

total should reach over 200 billion Etexts given away this year.

The Goal of Project Gutenberg is to Give Away One Trillion Etext

Files by December 31, 2001.  [10,000 x 100,000,000 = 1 Trillion]

This is ten thousand titles each to one hundred million readers,

which is only ~5% of the present number of computer users.

At our revised rates of production, we will reach only one-third

of that goal by the end of 2001, or about 3,333 Etexts unless we

manage to get some real funding; currently our funding is mostly

from Michael Hart's salary at Carnegie-Mellon University, and an

assortment of sporadic gifts; this salary is only good for a few

more years, so we are looking for something to replace it, as we

don't want Project Gutenberg to be so dependent on one person.

We need your donations more than ever!

All donations should be made to "Project Gutenberg/CMU": and are

tax deductible to the extent allowable by law.  (CMU = Carnegie-

Mellon University).

For these and other matters, please mail to:

Project Gutenberg

P. O. Box  2782

Champaign, IL 61825

When all other email fails. . .try our Executive Director:

Michael S. Hart <> forwards to and

if your mail bounces from, I will still see it, if

it bounces from, better resend later on. . . .

We would prefer to send you this information by email.


To access Project Gutenberg etexts, use any Web browser

to view  This site lists Etexts by

author and by title, and includes information about how

to get involved with Project Gutenberg.  You could also

download our past Newsletters, or subscribe here.  This

is one of our major sites, please email,

for a more complete list of our various sites.

To go directly to the etext collections, use FTP or any

Web browser to visit a Project Gutenberg mirror (mirror

sites are available on 7 continents; mirrors are listed


Mac users, do NOT point and click, typing works better.

Example FTP session:


login: anonymous

password: your@login

cd pub/docs/books/gutenberg

cd etext90 through etext99

dir [to see files]

get or mget [to get files. . .set bin for zip files]

GET GUTINDEX.??  [to get a year's listing of books, e.g., GUTINDEX.99]

GET GUTINDEX.ALL [to get a listing of ALL books]


**Information prepared by the Project Gutenberg legal advisor**

(Three Pages)


Why is this "Small Print!" statement here?  You know: lawyers.

They tell us you might sue us if there is something wrong with

your copy of this etext, even if you got it for free from

someone other than us, and even if what's wrong is not our

fault.  So, among other things, this "Small Print!" statement

disclaims most of our liability to you.  It also tells you how

you can distribute copies of this etext if you want to.


By using or reading any part of this PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm

etext, you indicate that you understand, agree to and accept

this "Small Print!" statement.  If you do not, you can receive

a refund of the money (if any) you paid for this etext by

sending a request within 30 days of receiving it to the person

you got it from.  If you received this etext on a physical

medium (such as a disk), you must return it with your request.



tm etexts, is a "public domain" work distributed by Professor

Michael S. Hart through the Project Gutenberg Association at

Carnegie-Mellon University (the "Project").  Among other

things, this means that no one owns a United States copyright

on or for this work, so the Project (and you!) can copy and

distribute it in the United States without permission and

without paying copyright royalties.  Special rules, set forth

below, apply if you wish to copy and distribute this etext

under the Project's "PROJECT GUTENBERG" trademark.

To create these etexts, the Project expends considerable

efforts to identify, transcribe and proofread public domain

works.  Despite these efforts, the Project's etexts and any

medium they may be on may contain "Defects".  Among other

things, Defects may take the form of incomplete, inaccurate or

corrupt data, transcription errors, a copyright or other

intellectual property infringement, a defective or damaged

disk or other etext medium, a computer virus, or computer

codes that damage or cannot be read by your equipment.


But for the "Right of Replacement or Refund" described below,

[1] the Project (and any other party you may receive this

etext from as a PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm etext) disclaims all

liability to you for damages, costs and expenses, including






If you discover a Defect in this etext within 90 days of

receiving it, you can receive a refund of the money (if any)

you paid for it by sending an explanatory note within that

time to the person you received it from.  If you received it

on a physical medium, you must return it with your note, and

such person may choose to alternatively give you a replacement

copy.  If you received it electronically, such person may

choose to alternatively give you a second opportunity to

receive it electronically.






Some states do not allow disclaimers of implied warranties or

the exclusion or limitation of consequential damages, so the

above disclaimers and exclusions may not apply to you, and you

may have other legal rights.


You will indemnify and hold the Project, its directors,

officers, members and agents harmless from all liability, cost

and expense, including legal fees, that arise directly or

indirectly from any of the following that you do or cause:

[1] distribution of this etext, [2] alteration, modification,

or addition to the etext, or [3] any Defect.


You may distribute copies of this etext electronically, or by

disk, book or any other medium if you either delete this

"Small Print!" and all other references to Project Gutenberg,


[1]  Only give exact copies of it.  Among other things, this

     requires that you do not remove, alter or modify the

     etext or this "small print!" statement.  You may however,

     if you wish, distribute this etext in machine readable

     binary, compressed, mark-up, or proprietary form,

     including any form resulting from conversion by word pro-

     cessing or hypertext software, but only so long as


     [*]  The etext, when displayed, is clearly readable, and

          does *not* contain characters other than those

          intended by the author of the work, although tilde

          (~), asterisk (*) and underline (_) characters may

          be used to convey punctuation intended by the

          author, and additional characters may be used to

          indicate hypertext links; OR

     [*]  The etext may be readily converted by the reader at

          no expense into plain ASCII, EBCDIC or equivalent

          form by the program that displays the etext (as is

          the case, for instance, with most word processors);


     [*]  You provide, or agree to also provide on request at

          no additional cost, fee or expense, a copy of the

          etext in its original plain ASCII form (or in EBCDIC

          or other equivalent proprietary form).

[2]  Honor the etext refund and replacement provisions of this

     "Small Print!" statement.

[3]  Pay a trademark license fee to the Project of 20% of the

     net profits you derive calculated using the method you

     already use to calculate your applicable taxes.  If you

     don't derive profits, no royalty is due.  Royalties are

     payable to "Project Gutenberg Association/Carnegie-Mellon

     University" within the 60 days following each

     date you prepare (or were legally required to prepare)

     your annual (or equivalent periodic) tax return.


The Project gratefully accepts contributions in money, time,

scanning machines, OCR software, public domain etexts, royalty

free copyright licenses, and every other sort of contribution

you can think of.  Money should be paid to "Project Gutenberg

Association / Carnegie-Mellon University".

We are planning on making some changes in our donation structure

in 2000, so you might want to email me, beforehand.


Etext prepared by Dagny,

and John Bickers,

Translated by Lady Mary Loyd





I had always suspected the geographical authorities did not know what

they were talking about when they located the battlefield of Munda in

the county of the Bastuli-Poeni, close to the modern Monda, some two

leagues north of Marbella.

According to my own surmise, founded on the text of the anonymous

author of the /Bellum Hispaniense/, and on certain information culled

from the excellent library owned by the Duke of Ossuna, I believed the

site of the memorable struggle in which Caesar played double or quits,

once and for all, with the champions of the Republic, should be sought

in the neighbourhood of Montilla.

Happening to be in Andalusia during the autumn of 1830, I made a

somewhat lengthy excursion, with the object of clearing up certain

doubts which still oppressed me. A paper which I shall shortly publish

will, I trust, remove any hesitation that may still exist in the minds

of all honest archaeologists. But before that dissertation of mine

finally settles the geographical problem on the solution of which the

whole of learned Europe hangs, I desire to relate a little tale. It

will do no prejudice to the interesting question of the correct

locality of Monda.

I had hired a guide and a couple of horses at Cordova, and had started

on my way with no luggage save a few shirts, and Caesar's

/Commentaries/. As I wandered, one day, across the higher lands of the

Cachena plain, worn with fatigue, parched with thirst, scorched by a

burning sun, cursing Caesar and Pompey's sons alike, most heartily, my

eye lighted, at some distance from the path I was following, on a

little stretch of green sward dotted with reeds and rushes. That

betokened the neighbourhood of some spring, and, indeed, as I drew

nearer I perceived that what had looked like sward was a marsh, into

which a stream, which seemed to issue from a narrow gorge between two

high spurs of the Sierra di Cabra, ran and disappeared.

If I rode up that stream, I argued, I was likely to find cooler water,

fewer leeches and frogs, and mayhap a little shade among the rocks.

At the mouth of the gorge, my horse neighed, and another horse,

invisible to me, neighed back. Before I had advanced a hundred paces,

the gorge suddenly widened, and I beheld a sort of natural

amphitheatre, thoroughly shaded by the steep cliffs that lay all

around it. It was impossible to imagine any more delightful halting

place for a traveller. At the foot of the precipitous rocks, the

stream bubbled upward and fell into a little basin, lined with sand

that was as white as snow. Five or six splendid evergreen oaks,

sheltered from the wind, and cooled by the spring, grew beside the

pool, and shaded it with their thick foliage. And round about it a

close and glossy turf offered the wanderer a better bed than he could

have found in any hostelry for ten leagues round.

The honour of discovering this fair spot did not belong to me. A man

was resting there already--sleeping, no doubt--before I reached it.

Roused by the neighing of the horses, he had risen to his feet and had

moved over to his mount, which had been taking advantage of its

master's slumbers to make a hearty feed on the grass that grew around.

He was an active young fellow, of middle height, but powerful in

build, and proud and sullen-looking in expression. His complexion,

which may once have been fine, had been tanned by the sun till it was

darker than his hair. One of his hands grasped his horse's halter. In

the other he held a brass blunderbuss.

At the first blush, I confess, the blunderbuss, and the savage looks

of the man who bore it, somewhat took me aback. But I had heard so

much about robbers, that, never seeing any, I had ceased to believe in

their existence. And further, I had seen so many honest farmers arm

themselves to the teeth before they went out to market, that the sight

of firearms gave me no warrant for doubting the character of any

stranger. "And then," quoth I to myself, "what could he do with my

shirts and my Elzevir edition of Caesar's /Commentaries/?" So I

bestowed a friendly nod on the man with the blunderbuss, and inquired,

with a smile, whether I had disturbed his nap. Without any answer, he

looked me over from head to foot. Then, as if the scrutiny had

satisfied him, he looked as closely at my guide, who was just coming

up. I saw the guide turn pale, and pull up with an air of evident

alarm. "An unlucky meeting!" thought I to myself. But prudence

instantly counselled me not to let any symptom of anxiety escape me.

So I dismounted. I told the guide to take off the horses' bridles, and

kneeling down beside the spring, I laved my head and hands and then

drank a long draught, lying flat on my belly, like Gideon's soldiers.

Meanwhile, I watched the stranger, and my own guide. This last seemed

to come forward unwillingly. But the other did not appear to have any

evil designs upon us. For he had turned his horse loose, and the

blunderbuss, which he had been holding horizontally, was now dropped


Not thinking it necessary to take offence at the scant attention paid

me, I stretched myself full length upon the grass, and calmly asked

the owner of the blunderbuss whether he had a light about him. At the

same time I pulled out my cigar-case. The stranger, still without

opening his lips, took out his flint, and lost no time in getting me a

light. He was evidently growing tamer, for he sat down opposite to me,

though he still grasped his weapon. When I had lighted my cigar, I

chose out the best I had left, and asked him whether he smoked.

"Yes, senor," he replied. These were the first words I had heard him

speak, and I noticed that he did not pronounce the letter /s/* in the

Andalusian fashion, whence I concluded he was a traveller, like

myself, though, maybe, somewhat less of an archaeologist.

*   The Andalusians aspirate the /s/, and pronounce it like the soft

    /c/ and the /z/, which Spaniards pronounce like the English /th/.

    An Andalusian may always be recognised by the way in which he says


"You'll find this a fairly good one," said I, holding out a real

Havana regalia.

He bowed his head slightly, lighted his cigar at mine, thanked me with

another nod, and began to smoke with a most lively appearance of


"Ah!" he exclaimed, as he blew his first puff of smoke slowly out of

his ears and nostrils. "What a time it is since I've had a smoke!"

In Spain the giving and accepting of a cigar establishes bonds of

hospitality similar to those founded in Eastern countries on the

partaking of bread and salt. My friend turned out more talkative than

I had hoped. However, though he claimed to belong to the /partido/ of

Montilla, he seemed very ill-informed about the country. He did not

know the name of the delightful valley in which we were sitting, he

could not tell me the names of any of the neighbouring villages, and

when I inquired whether he had not noticed any broken-down walls,

broad-rimmed tiles, or carved stones in the vicinity, he confessed he

had never paid any heed to such matters. On the other hand, he showed

himself an expert in horseflesh, found fault with my mount--not a

difficult affair--and gave me a pedigree of his own, which had come

from the famous stud at Cordova. It was a splendid creature, indeed,

so tough, according to its owner's claim, that it had once covered

thirty leagues in one day, either at the gallop or at full trot the

whole time. In the midst of his story the stranger pulled up short, as

if startled and sorry he had said so much. "The fact is I was in a

great hurry to get to Cordova," he went on, somewhat embarrassed. "I

had to petition the judges about a lawsuit." As he spoke, he looked at

my guide Antonio, who had dropped his eyes.

The spring and the cool shade were so delightful that I bethought me

of certain slices of an excellent ham, which my friends at Montilla

had packed into my guide's wallet. I bade him produce them, and

invited the stranger to share our impromptu lunch. If he had not

smoked for a long time, he certainly struck me as having fasted for

eight-and-forty hours at the very least. He ate like a starving wolf,

and I thought to myself that my appearance must really have been quite

providential for the poor fellow. Meanwhile my guide ate but little,

drank still less, and spoke never a word, although in the earlier part

of our journey he had proved himself a most unrivalled chatterer. He

seemed ill at ease in the presence of our guest, and a sort of mutual

distrust, the cause of which I could not exactly fathom, seemed to be

between them.

The last crumbs of bread and scraps of ham had disappeared. We had

each smoked our second cigar; I told the guide to bridle the horses,

and was just about to take leave of my new friend, when he inquired

where I was going to spend the night.

Before I had time to notice a sign my guide was making to me I had

replied that I was going to the Venta del Cuervo.

"That's a bad lodging for a gentleman like you, sir! I'm bound there

myself, and if you'll allow me to ride with you, we'll go together."

"With pleasure!" I replied, mounting my horse. The guide, who was

holding my stirrup, looked at me meaningly again. I answered by

shrugging my shoulders, as though to assure him I was perfectly easy

in my mind, and we started on our way.

Antonio's mysterious signals, his evident anxiety, a few words dropped

by the stranger, above all, his ride of thirty leagues, and the far

from plausible explanation he had given us of it, had already enabled

me to form an opinion as to the identity of my fellow-traveller. I had

no doubt at all I was in the company of a smuggler, and possibly of a

brigand. What cared I? I knew enough of the Spanish character to be

very certain I had nothing to fear from a man who had eaten and smoked

with me. His very presence would protect me in case of any undesirable

meeting. And besides, I was very glad to know what a brigand was

really like. One doesn't come across such gentry every day. And there

is a certain charm about finding one's self in close proximity to a

dangerous being, especially when one feels the being in question to be

gentle and tame.

I was hoping the stranger might gradually fall into a confidential

mood, and in spite of my guide's winks, I turned the conversation to

the subject of highwaymen. I need scarcely say that I spoke of them

with great respect. At that time there was a famous brigand in

Andalusia, of the name of Jose-Maria, whose exploits were on every

lip. "Supposing I should be riding along with Jose-Maria!" said I to

myself. I told all the stories I knew about the hero--they were all to

his credit, indeed, and loudly expressed my admiration of his

generosity and his valour.

"Jose-Maria is nothing but a blackguard," said the stranger gravely.

"Is he just to himself, or is this an excess of modesty?" I queried,

mentally, for by dint of scrutinizing my companion, I had ended by

reconciling his appearance with the description of Jose-Maria which I

read posted up on the gates of various Andalusian towns. "Yes, this

must be he--fair hair, blue eyes, large mouth, good teeth, small

hands, fine shirt, a velvet jacket with silver buttons on it, white

leather gaiters, and a bay horse. Not a doubt about it. But his

/incognito/ shall be respected!" We reached the /venta/. It was just

what he had described to me. In other words, the most wretched hole of

its kind I had as yet beheld. One large apartment served as kitchen,

dining-room, and sleeping chamber. A fire was burning on a flat stone

in the middle of the room, and the smoke escaped through a hole in the

roof, or rather hung in a cloud some feet above the soil. Along the

walls five or six mule rugs were spread on the floor. These were the

travellers' beds. Twenty paces from the house, or rather from the

solitary apartment which I have just described, stood a sort of shed,

that served for a stable.

The only inhabitants of this delightful dwelling visible at the

moment, at all events, were an old woman, and a little girl of ten or

twelve years old, both of them as black as soot, and dressed in

loathsome rags. "Here's the sole remnant of the ancient populations of

Munda Boetica," said I to myself. "O Caesar! O Sextus Pompeius, if you

were to revisit this earth how astounded you would be!"

When the old woman saw my travelling companion an exclamation of

surprise escaped her. "Ah! Senor Don Jose!" she cried.

Don Jose frowned and lifted his hand with a gesture of authority that

forthwith silenced the old dame.

I turned to my guide and gave him to understand, by a sign that no one

else perceived, that I knew all about the man in whose company I was

about to spend the night. Our supper was better than I expected. On a

little table, only a foot high, we were served with an old rooster,

fricasseed with rice and numerous peppers, then more peppers in oil,

and finally a /gaspacho/--a sort of salad made of peppers. These three

highly spiced dishes involved our frequent recourse to a goatskin

filled with Montella wine, which struck us as being delicious.

After our meal was over, I caught sight of a mandolin hanging up

against the wall--in Spain you see mandolins in every corner--and I

asked the little girl, who had been waiting on us, if she knew how to

play it.

"No," she replied. "But Don Jose does play well!"

"Do me the kindness to sing me something," I said to him, "I'm

passionately fond of your national music."

"I can't refuse to do anything for such a charming gentleman, who

gives me such excellent cigars," responded Don Jose gaily, and having

made the child give him the mandolin, he sang to his own

accompaniment. His voice, though rough, was pleasing, the air he sang

was strange and sad. As to the words, I could not understand a single

one of them.

"If I am not mistaken," said I, "that's not a Spanish air you have

just been singing. It's like the /zorzicos/ I've heard in the

Provinces,* and the words must be in the Basque language."

*   The /privileged Provinces/, Alava, Biscay, Guipuzcoa, and a part

    of Navarre, which all enjoy special /fueros/. The Basque language

    is spoken in these countries.

"Yes," said Don Jose, with a gloomy look. He laid the mandolin down on

the ground, and began staring with a peculiarly sad expression at the

dying fire. His face, at once fierce and noble-looking, reminded me,

as the firelight fell on it, of Milton's Satan. Like him, perchance,

my comrade was musing over the home he had forfeited, the exile he had

earned, by some misdeed. I tried to revive the conversation, but so

absorbed was he in melancholy thought, that he gave me no answer.

The old woman had already gone to rest in a corner of the room, behind

a ragged rug hung on a rope. The little girl had followed her into

this retreat, sacred to the fair sex. Then my guide rose, and

suggested that I should go with him to the stable. But at the word Don

Jose, waking, as it were, with a start, inquired sharply whither he

was going.

"To the stable," answered the guide.

"What for? The horses have been fed! You can sleep here. The senor

will give you leave."

"I'm afraid the senor's horse is sick. I'd like the senor to see it.

Perhaps he'd know what should be done for it."

It was quite clear to me that Antonio wanted to speak to me apart.

But I did not care to rouse Don Jose's suspicions, and being as we

were, I thought far the wisest course for me was to appear absolutely


I therefore told Antonio that I knew nothing on earth about horses,

and that I was desperately sleepy. Don Jose followed him to the

stable, and soon returned alone. He told me there was nothing the

matter with the horse, but that my guide considered the animal such a

treasure that he was scrubbing it with his jacket to make it sweat,

and expected to spend the night in that pleasing occupation. Meanwhile

I had stretched myself out on the mule rugs, having carefully wrapped

myself up in my own cloak, so as to avoid touching them. Don Jose,

having begged me to excuse the liberty he took in placing himself so

near me, lay down across the door, but not until he had primed his

blunderbuss afresh and carefully laid it under the wallet, which

served him as a pillow.

I had thought I was so tired that I should be able to sleep even in

such a lodging. But within an hour a most unpleasant itching sensation

roused me from my first nap. As soon as I realized its nature, I rose

to my feet, feeling convinced I should do far better to spend the rest

of the night in the open air than beneath that inhospitable roof.

Walking tiptoe I reached the door, stepped over Don Jose, who was

sleeping the sleep of the just, and managed so well that I got outside

the building without waking him. Just beside the door there was a wide

wooden bench. I lay down upon it, and settled myself, as best I could,

for the remainder of the night. I was just closing my eyes for a

second time when I fancied I saw the shadow of a man and then the

shadow of a horse moving absolutely noiselessly, one behind the other.

I sat upright, and then I thought I recognised Antonio. Surprised to

see him outside the stable at such an hour, I got up and went toward

him. He had seen me first, and had stopped to wait for me.

"Where is he?" Antonio inquired in a low tone.

"In the /venta/. He's asleep. The bugs don't trouble him. But what are

you going to do with that horse?" I then noticed that, to stifle all

noise as he moved out of the shed, Antonio had carefully muffled the

horse's feet in the rags of an old blanket.

"Speak lower, for God's sake," said Antonio. "You don't know who that

man is. He's Jose Navarro, the most noted bandit in Andalusia. I've

been making signs to you all day long, and you wouldn't understand."

"What do I care whether he's a brigand or not," I replied. "He hasn't

robbed us, and I'll wager he doesn't want to."

"That may be. But there are two hundred ducats on his head. Some

lancers are stationed in a place I know, a league and a half from

here, and before daybreak I'll bring a few brawny fellows back with

me. I'd have taken his horse away, but the brute's so savage that

nobody but Navarro can go near it."

"Devil take you!" I cried. "What harm has the poor fellow done you

that you should want to inform against him? And besides, are you

certain he is the brigand you take him for?"

"Perfectly certain! He came after me into the stable just now, and

said, 'You seem to know me. If you tell that good gentleman who I am,

I'll blow your brains out!' You stay here, sir, keep close to him.

You've nothing to fear. As long as he knows you are there, he won't

suspect anything."

As we talked, we had moved so far from the /venta/ that the noise of

the horse's hoofs could not be heard there. In a twinkling Antonio

snatched off the rags he had wrapped around the creature's feet, and

was just about to climb on its back. In vain did I attempt with

prayers and threats to restrain him.

"I'm only a poor man, senor," quoth he, "I can't afford to lose two

hundred ducats--especially when I shall earn them by ridding the

country of such vermin. But mind what you're about! If Navarro wakes

up, he'll snatch at his blunderbuss, and then look out for yourself!

I've gone too far now to turn back. Do the best you can for yourself!"

The villain was in his saddle already, he spurred his horse smartly,

and I soon lost sight of them both in the darkness.

I was very angry with my guide, and terribly alarmed as well. After a

moment's reflection, I made up my mind, and went back to the /venta/.

Don Jose was still sound asleep, making up, no doubt, for the fatigue

and sleeplessness of several days of adventure. I had to shake him

roughly before I could wake him up. Never shall I forget his fierce

look, and the spring he made to get hold of his blunderbuss, which, as

a precautionary measure, I had removed to some distance from his


"Senor," I said, "I beg your pardon for disturbing you. But I have a

silly question to ask you. Would you be glad to see half a dozen

lancers walk in here?"

He bounded to his feet, and in an awful voice he demanded:

"Who told you?"

"It's little matter whence the warning comes, so long as it be good."

"Your guide has betrayed me--but he shall pay for it! Where is he?"

"I don't know. In the stable, I fancy. But somebody told me--"

"Who told you? It can't be the old hag--"

"Some one I don't know. Without more parleying, tell me, yes or no,

have you any reason for not waiting till the soldiers come? If you

have any, lose no time! If not, good-night to you, and forgive me for

having disturbed your slumbers!"

"Ah, your guide! Your guide! I had my doubts of him at first--but--

I'll settle with him! Farewell, senor. May God reward you for the

service I owe you! I am not quite so wicked as you think me. Yes, I

still have something in me that an honest man may pity. Farewell,

senor! I have only one regret--that I can not pay my debt to you!"

"As a reward for the service I have done you, Don Jose, promise me

you'll suspect nobody--nor seek for vengeance. Here are some cigars

for your journey. Good luck to you." And I held out my hand to him.

He squeezed it, without a word, took up his wallet and blunderbuss,

and after saying a few words to the old woman in a lingo that I could

not understand, he ran out to the shed. A few minutes later, I heard

him galloping out into the country.

As for me, I lay down again on my bench, but I did not go to sleep

again. I queried in my own mind whether I had done right to save a

robber, and possibly a murderer, from the gallows, simply and solely

because I had eaten ham and rice in his company. Had I not betrayed my

guide, who was supporting the cause of law and order? Had I not

exposed him to a ruffian's vengeance? But then, what about the laws of


"A mere savage prejudice," said I to myself. "I shall have to answer

for all the crimes this brigand may commit in future." Yet is that

instinct of the conscience which resists every argument really a

prejudice? It may be I could not have escaped from the delicate

position in which I found myself without remorse of some kind. I was

still tossed to and fro, in the greatest uncertainty as to the

morality of my behaviour, when I saw half a dozen horsemen ride up,

with Antonio prudently lagging behind them. I went to meet them, and

told them the brigand had fled over two hours previously. The old

woman, when she was questioned by the sergeant, admitted that she knew

Navarro, but said that living alone, as she did, she would never have

dared to risk her life by informing against him. She added that when

he came to her house, he habitually went away in the middle of the

night. I, for my part, was made to ride to a place some leagues away,

where I showed my passport, and signed a declaration before the

/Alcalde/. This done, I was allowed to recommence my archaeological

investigations. Antonio was sulky with me; suspecting it was I who had

prevented his earning those two hundred ducats. Nevertheless, we

parted good friends at Cordova, where I gave him as large a gratuity

as the state of my finances would permit.


I spent several days at Cordova. I had been told of a certain

manuscript in the library of the Dominican convent which was likely to

furnish me with very interesting details about the ancient Munda. The

good fathers gave me the most kindly welcome. I spent the daylight

hours within their convent, and at night I walked about the town. At

Cordova a great many idlers collect, toward sunset, in the quay that

runs along the right bank of the Guadalquivir. Promenaders on the spot

have to breathe the odour of a tan yard which still keeps up the

ancient fame of the country in connection with the curing of leather.

But to atone for this, they enjoy a sight which has a charm of its

own. A few minutes before the Angelus bell rings, a great company of

women gathers beside the river, just below the quay, which is rather a

high one. Not a man would dare to join its ranks. The moment the

Angelus rings, darkness is supposed to have fallen. As the last stroke

sounds, all the women disrobe and step into the water. Then there is

laughing and screaming and a wonderful clatter. The men on the upper

quay watch the bathers, straining their eyes, and seeing very little.

Yet the white uncertain outlines perceptible against the dark-blue

waters of the stream stir the poetic mind, and the possessor of a

little fancy finds it not difficult to imagine that Diana and her

nymphs are bathing below, while he himself runs no risk of ending like


I have been told that one day a party of good-for-nothing fellows

banded themselves together, and bribed the bell-ringer at the

cathedral to ring the Angelus some twenty minutes before the proper

hour. Though it was still broad daylight, the nymphs of the

Guadalquivir never hesitated, and putting far more trust in the

Angelus bell than in the sun, they proceeded to their bathing

toilette--always of the simplest-- with an easy conscience. I was not

present on that occasion. In my day, the bell-ringer was

incorruptible, the twilight was very dim, and nobody but a cat could

have distinguished the difference between the oldest orange woman, and

the prettiest shop-girl, in Cordova.

One evening, after it had grown quite dusk, I was leaning over the

parapet of the quay, smoking, when a woman came up the steps leading

from the river, and sat down near me. In her hair she wore a great

bunch of jasmine--a flower which, at night, exhales a most

intoxicating perfume. She was dressed simply, almost poorly, in black,

as most work-girls are dressed in the evening. Women of the richer

class only wear black in the daytime, at night they dress /a la

francesa/. When she drew near me, the woman let the mantilla which had

covered her head drop on her shoulders, and "by the dim light falling

from the stars" I perceived her to be young, short in stature, well-

proportioned, and with very large eyes. I threw my cigar away at once.

She appreciated this mark of courtesy, essentially French, and

hastened to inform me that she was very fond of the smell of tobacco,

and that she even smoked herself, when she could get very mild

/papelitos/. I fortunately happened to have some such in my case, and

at once offered them to her. She condescended to take one, and lighted

it at a burning string which a child brought us, receiving a copper

for its pains. We mingled our smoke, and talked so long, the fair lady

and I, that we ended by being almost alone on the quay. I thought I

might venture, without impropriety, to suggest our going to eat an ice

at the /neveria/.* After a moment of modest demur, she agreed. But

before finally accepting, she desired to know what o'clock it was. I

struck my repeater, and this seemed to astound her greatly.

*   A /café/ to which a depot of ice, or rather of snow, is attached.

    There is hardly a village in Spain without its /neveria/.

"What clever inventions you foreigners do have! What country do you

belong to, sir? You're an Englishman, no doubt!"*

*   Every traveller in Spain who does not carry about samples of

    calicoes and silks is taken for an Englishman (/inglesito/). It is

    the same thing in the East.

"I'm a Frenchman, and your devoted servant. And you, senora, or

senorita, you probably belong to Cordova?"


"At all events, you are an Andalusian? Your soft way of speaking makes

me think so."

"If you notice people's accent so closely, you must be able to guess

what I am."

"I think you are from the country of Jesus, two paces out of


I had learned the metaphor, which stands for Andalusia, from my friend

Francisco Sevilla, a well-known /picador/.

"Pshaw! The people here say there is no place in Paradise for us!"

"Then perhaps you are of Moorish blood--or----" I stopped, not

venturing to add "a Jewess."

"Oh come! You must see I'm a gipsy! Wouldn't you like me to tell you

/la baji/?* Did you never hear tell of Carmencita? That's who I am!"

*   Your fortune.

I was such a miscreant in those days--now fifteen years ago--that the

close proximity of a sorceress did not make me recoil in horror. "So

be it!" I thought. "Last week I ate my supper with a highway robber.

To-day I'll go and eat ices with a servant of the devil. A traveller

should see everything." I had yet another motive for prosecuting her

acquaintance. When I left college--I acknowledge it with shame--I had

wasted a certain amount of time in studying occult science, and had

even attempted, more than once, to exorcise the powers of darkness.

Though I had been cured, long since, of my passion for such

investigations, I still felt a certain attraction and curiosity with

regard to all superstitions, and I was delighted to have this

opportunity of discovering how far the magic art had developed among

the gipsies.

Talking as we went, we had reached the /neveria/, and seated ourselves

at a little table, lighted by a taper protected by a glass globe. I

then had time to take a leisurely view of my /gitana/, while several

worthy individuals, who were eating their ices, stared open-mouthed at

beholding me in such gay company.

I very much doubt whether Senorita Carmen was a pure-blooded gipsy. At

all events, she was infinitely prettier than any other woman of her

race I have ever seen. For a women to be beautiful, they say in Spain,

she must fulfil thirty /ifs/, or, if it please you better, you must be

able to define her appearance by ten adjectives, applicable to three

portions of her person.

For instance, three things about her must be black, her eyes, her

eyelashes, and her eyebrows. Three must be dainty, her fingers, her

lips, her hair, and so forth. For the rest of this inventory, see

Brantome. My gipsy girl could lay no claim to so many perfections. Her

skin, though perfectly smooth, was almost of a copper hue. Her eyes

were set obliquely in her head, but they were magnificent and large.

Her lips, a little full, but beautifully shaped, revealed a set of

teeth as white as newly skinned almonds. Her hair--a trifle coarse,

perhaps--was black, with blue lights on it like a raven's wing, long

and glossy. Not to weary my readers with too prolix a description, I

will merely add, that to every blemish she united some advantage,

which was perhaps all the more evident by contrast. There was

something strange and wild about her beauty. Her face astonished you,

at first sight, but nobody could forget it. Her eyes, especially, had

an expression of mingled sensuality and fierceness which I had never

seen in any other human glance. "Gipsy's eye, wolf's eye!" is a

Spanish saying which denotes close observation. If my readers have no

time to go to the "Jardin des Plantes" to study the wolf's expression,

they will do well to watch the ordinary cat when it is lying in wait

for a sparrow.

It will be understood that I should have looked ridiculous if I had

proposed to have my fortune told in a /café/. I therefore begged the

pretty witch's leave to go home with her. She made no difficulties

about consenting, but she wanted to know what o'clock it was again,

and requested me to make my repeater strike once more.

"Is it really gold?" she said, gazing at it with rapt attention.

When we started off again, it was quite dark. Most of the shops were

shut, and the streets were almost empty. We crossed the bridge over

the Guadalquivir, and at the far end of the suburb we stopped in front

of a house of anything but palatial appearance. The door was opened by

a child, to whom the gipsy spoke a few words in a language unknown to

me, which I afterward understood to be /Romany/, or /chipe calli/--the

gipsy idiom. The child instantly disappeared, leaving us in sole

possession of a tolerably spacious room, furnished with a small table,

two stools, and a chest. I must not forget to mention a jar of water,

a pile of oranges, and a bunch of onions.

As soon as we were left alone, the gipsy produced, out of her chest, a

pack of cards, bearing signs of constant usage, a magnet, a dried

chameleon, and a few other indispensable adjuncts of her art. Then she

bade me cross my left hand with a silver coin, and the magic

ceremonies duly began. It is unnecessary to chronicle her predictions,

and as for the style of her performance, it proved her to be no mean


Unluckily we were soon disturbed. The door was suddenly burst open,

and a man, shrouded to the eyes in a brown cloak, entered the room,

apostrophizing the gipsy in anything but gentle terms. What he said I

could not catch, but the tone of his voice revealed the fact that he

was in a very evil temper. The gipsy betrayed neither surprise nor

anger at his advent, but she ran to meet him, and with a most striking

volubility, she poured out several sentences in the mysterious

language she had already used in my presence. The word /payllo/,

frequently reiterated, was the only one I understood. I knew that the

gipsies use it to describe all men not of their own race. Concluding

myself to be the subject of this discourse, I was prepared for a

somewhat delicate explanation. I had already laid my hand on the leg

of one of the stools, and was studying within myself to discover the

exact moment at which I had better throw it at his head, when, roughly

pushing the gipsy to one side, the man advanced toward me. Then with a

step backward he cried:

"What, sir! Is it you?"

I looked at him in my turn and recognised my friend Don Jose. At that

moment I did feel rather sorry I had saved him from the gallows.

"What, is it you, my good fellow?" I exclaimed, with as easy a smile

as I could muster. "You have interrupted this young lady just when she

was foretelling me most interesting things!"

"The same as ever. There shall be an end to it!" he hissed between his

teeth, with a savage glance at her.

Meanwhile the /gitana/ was still talking to him in her own tongue. She

became more and more excited. Her eyes grew fierce and bloodshot, her

features contracted, she stamped her foot. She seemed to me to be

earnestly pressing him to do something he was unwilling to do. What

this was I fancied I understood only too well, by the fashion in which

she kept drawing her little hand backward and forward under her chin.

I was inclined to think she wanted to have somebody's throat cut, and

I had a fair suspicion the throat in question was my own. To all her

torrent of eloquence Don Jose's only reply was two or three shortly

spoken words. At this the gipsy cast a glance of the most utter scorn

at him, then, seating herself Turkish-fashion in a corner of the room,

she picked out an orange, tore off the skin, and began to eat it.

Don Jose took hold of my arm, opened the door, and led me into the

street. We walked some two hundred paces in the deepest silence. Then

he stretched out his hand.

"Go straight on," he said, "and you'll come to the bridge."

That instant he turned his back on me and departed at a great pace. I

took my way back to my inn, rather crestfallen, and considerably out

of temper. The worst of all was that, when I undressed, I discovered

my watch was missing.

Various considerations prevented me from going to claim it next day,

or requesting the /Corregidor/ to be good enough to have a search made

for it. I finished my work on the Dominican manuscript, and went on to

Seville. After several months spent wandering hither and thither in

Andalusia, I wanted to get back to Madrid, and with that object I had

to pass through Cordova. I had no intention of making any stay there,

for I had taken a dislike to that fair city, and to the ladies who

bathed in the Guadalquivir. Nevertheless, I had some visits to pay,

and certain errands to do, which must detain me several days in the

old capital of the Mussulman princes.

The moment I made my appearance in the Dominican convent, one of the

monks, who had always shown the most lively interest in my inquiries

as to the site of the battlefield of Munda, welcomed me with open

arms, exclaiming:

"Praised be God! You are welcome! My dear friend. We all thought you

were dead, and I myself have said many a /pater/ and ave/ (not that I

regret them!) for your soul. Then you weren't murdered, after all?

That you were robbed, we know!"

"What do you mean?" I asked, rather astonished.

"Oh, you know! That splendid repeater you used to strike in the

library whenever we said it was time for us to go into church. Well,

it has been found, and you'll get it back."

"Why," I broke in, rather put out of countenance, "I lost it--"

"The rascal's under lock and key, and as he was known to be a man who

would shoot any Christian for the sake of a /peseta/, we were most

dreadfully afraid he had killed you. I'll go with you to the

/Corregidor/, and he'll give you back your fine watch. And after that,

you won't dare to say the law doesn't do its work properly in Spain."

"I assure you," said I, "I'd far rather lose my watch than have to

give evidence in court to hang a poor unlucky devil, and especially


"Oh, you needn't be alarmed! He's thoroughly done for; they might hang

him twice over. But when I say hang, I say wrong. Your thief is an

/Hidalgo/. So he's to be garrotted the day after to-morrow, without

fail.* So you see one theft more or less won't affect his position.

Would to God he had done nothing but steal! But he has committed

several murders, one more hideous than the other."

*   In 1830, the noble class still enjoyed this privilege. Nowadays,

    under the constitutional /regime/, commoners have attained the

    same dignity.

"What's his name?"

"In this country he is only known as Jose Navarro, but he has another

Basque name, which neither your nor I will ever be able to pronounce.

By the way, the man is worth seeing, and you, who like to study the

peculiar features of each country, shouldn't lose this chance of

noting how a rascal bids farewell to this world in Spain. He is in

jail, and Father Martinez will take you to him."

So bent was my Dominican friend on my seeing the preparations for this

"neat little hanging job" that I was fain to agree. I went to see the

prisoner, having provided myself with a bundle of cigars, which I

hoped might induce him to forgive my intrusion.

I was ushered into Don Jose's presence just as he was sitting at

table. He greeted me with a rather distant nod, and thanked me civilly

for the present I had brought him. Having counted the cigars in the

bundle I had placed in his hand, he took out a certain number and

returned me the rest, remarking that he would not need any more of


I inquired whether by laying out a little money, or by applying to my

friends, I might not be able to do something to soften his lot. He

shrugged his shoulders, to begin with, smiling sadly. Soon, as by an

after-thought, he asked me to have a mass said for the repose of his


Then he added nervously: "Would you--would you have another said for a

person who did you a wrong?"

"Assuredly I will, my dear fellow," I answered. "But no one in this

country has wronged me so far as I know."

He took my hand and squeezed it, looking very grave. After a moment's

silence, he spoke again.

"Might I dare to ask another service of you? When you go back to your

own country perhaps you will pass through Navarre. At all events

you'll go by Vittoria, which isn't very far off."

"Yes," said I, "I shall certainly pass through Vittoria. But I may

very possibly go round by Pampeluna, and for your sake, I believe I

should be very glad to do it."

"Well, if you do go to Pampeluna, you'll see more than one thing that

will interest you. It's a fine town. I'll give you this medal," he

showed me a little silver medal that he wore hung around his neck.

"You'll wrap it up in paper"--he paused a moment to master his emotion

--"and you'll take it, or send it, to an old lady whose address I'll

give you. Tell her I am dead--but don't tell her how I died."

I promised to perform his commission. I saw him the next day, and

spent part of it in his company. From his lips I learned the sad

incidents that follow.


"I was born," he said, "at Elizondo, in the valley of Baztan. My name

is Don Jose Lizzarrabengoa, and you know enough of Spain, sir, to know

at once, by my name, that I come of an old Christian and Basque stock.

I call myself Don, because I have a right to it, and if I were at

Elizondo I could show you my parchment genealogy. My family wanted me

to go into the church, and made me study for it, but I did not like

work. I was too fond of playing tennis, and that was my ruin. When we

Navarrese begin to play tennis, we forget everything else. One day,

when I had won the game, a young fellow from Alava picked a quarrel

with me. We took to our /maquilas/,* and I won again. But I had to

leave the neighbourhood. I fell in with some dragoons, and enlisted in

the Almanza Cavalry Regiment. Mountain folks like us soon learn to be

soldiers. Before long I was a corporal, and I had been told I should

soon be made a sergeant, when, to my misfortune, I was put on guard at

the Seville Tobacco Factory. If you have been to Seville you have seen

the great building, just outside the ramparts, close to the

Guadalquivir; I can fancy I see the entrance, and the guard room just

beside it, even now. When Spanish soldiers are on duty, they either

play cards or go to sleep. I, like an honest Navarrese, always tried

to keep myself busy. I was making a chain to hold my priming-pin, out

of a bit of wire: all at once, my comrades said, 'there's the bell

ringing, the girls are coming back to work.' You must know, sir, that

there are quite four or five hundred women employed in the factory.

They roll the cigars in a great room into which no man can go without

a permit from the /Veintiquatro/,** because when the weather is hot

they make themselves at home, especially the young ones. When the

work-girls come back after their dinner, numbers of young men go down

to see them pass by, and talk all sorts of nonsense to them. Very few

of those young ladies will refuse a silk mantilla, and men who care

for that sort of sport have nothing to do but bend down and pick their

fish up. While the others watched the girls go by, I stayed on my

bench near the door. I was a young fellow then--my heart was still in

my own country, and I didn't believe in any pretty girls who hadn't

blue skirts and long plaits of hair falling on their shoulders.*** And

besides, I was rather afraid of the Andalusian women. I had not got

used to their ways yet; they were always jeering one--never spoke a

single word of sense. So I was sitting with my nose down upon my

chain, when I heard some bystanders say, 'Here comes the /gitanella/!'

Then I lifted up my eyes, and I saw her! It was that very Carmen you

know, and in whose rooms I met you a few months ago.

*   Iron-shod sticks used by the Basques.

**  Magistrate in charge of the municipal police arrangements, and

    local government regulations.

*** The costume usually worn by peasant women in Navarre and the

    Basque Provinces.

"She was wearing a very short skirt, below which her white silk

stockings--with more than one hole in them--and her dainty red morocco

shoes, fastened with flame-coloured ribbons, were clearly seen. She

had thrown her mantilla back, to show her shoulders, and a great bunch

of acacia that was thrust into her chemise. She had another acacia

blossom in the corner of her mouth, and she walked along, swaying her

hips, like a filly from the Cordova stud farm. In my country anybody

who had seen a woman dressed in that fashion would have crossed

himself. At Seville every man paid her some bold compliment on her

appearance. She had an answer for each and all, with her hand on her

hip, as bold as the thorough gipsy she was. At first I didn't like her

looks, and I fell to my work again. But she, like all women and cats,

who won't come if you call them, and do come if you don't call them,

stopped short in front of me, and spoke to me.

" '/Compadre/,' said she, in the Andalusian fashion, 'won't you give

me your chain for the keys of my strong box?'

" 'It's for my priming-pin,' said I.

" 'Your priming-pin!' she cried, with a laugh. 'Oho! I suppose the

gentleman makes lace, as he wants pins!'

"Everybody began to laugh, and I felt myself getting red in the face,

and couldn't hit on anything in answer.

" 'Come, my love!' she began again, 'make me seven ells of lace for my

mantilla, my pet pin-maker!'

"And taking the acacia blossom out of her mouth she flipped it at me

with her thumb so that it hit me just between the eyes. I tell you,

sir, I felt as if a bullet had struck me. I didn't know which way to

look. I sat stock-still, like a wooden board. When she had gone into

the factory, I saw the acacia blossom, which had fallen on the ground

between my feet. I don't know what made me do it, but I picked it up,

unseen by any of my comrades, and put it carefully inside my jacket.

That was my first folly.

"Two or three hours later I was still thinking about her, when a

panting, terrified-looking porter rushed into the guard-room. He told

us a woman had been stabbed in the great cigar-room, and that the

guard must be sent in at once. The sergeant told me to take two men,

and go and see to it. I took my two men and went upstairs. Imagine,

sir, that when I got into the room, I found, to begin with, some three

hundred women, stripped to their shifts, or very near it, all of them

screaming and yelling and gesticulating, and making such a row that

you couldn't have heard God's own thunder. On one side of the room one

of the women was lying on the broad of her back, streaming with blood,

with an X newly cut on her face by two strokes of a knife. Opposite

the wounded woman, whom the best-natured of the band were attending, I

saw Carmen, held by five or six of her comrades. The wounded woman was

crying out, 'A confessor, a confessor! I'm killed!' Carmen said

nothing at all. She clinched her teeth and rolled her eyes like a

chameleon. 'What's this?' I asked. I had hard work to find out what

had happened, for all the work-girls talked at once. It appeared that

the injured girl had boasted she had money enough in her pocket to buy

a donkey at the Triana Market. 'Why,' said Carmen, who had a tongue of

her own, 'can't you do with a broom?' Stung by this taunt, it may be

because she felt herself rather unsound in that particular, the other

girl replied that she knew nothing about brooms, seeing she had not

the honour of being either a gipsy or one of the devil's godchildren,

but that the Senorita Carmen would shortly make acquaintance with her

donkey, when the /Corregidor/ took her out riding with two lackeys

behind her to keep the flies off. 'Well,' retorted Carmen, 'I'll make

troughs for the flies to drink out of on your cheeks, and I'll paint a

draught-board on them!'* And thereupon, slap, bank! She began making

St. Andrew's crosses on the girl's face with a knife she had been

using for cutting off the ends of the cigars.

*   /Pintar un javeque/, "paint a xebec," a particular type of ship.

    Most Spanish vessels of this description have a checkered red and

    white stripe painted around them.

"The case was quite clear. I took hold of Carmen's arm. 'Sister mine,'

I said civilly, 'you must come with me.' She shot a glance of

recognition at me, but she said, with a resigned look: 'Let's be off.

Where is my mantilla?' She put it over her head so that only one of

her great eyes was to be seen, and followed my two men, as quiet as a

lamb. When we got to the guardroom the sergeant said it was a serious

job, and he must send her to prison. I was told off again to take her

there. I put her between two dragoons, as a corporal does on such

occasions. We started off for the town. The gipsy had begun by holding

her tongue. But when we got to the /Calle de la Serpiente/--you know

it, and that it earns its name by its many windings--she began by

dropping her mantilla on to her shoulders, so as to show me her

coaxing little face, and turning round to me as well as she could, she


" '/Oficial mio/, where are you taking me to?'

" 'To prison, my poor child,' I replied, as gently as I could, just as

any kind-hearted soldier is bound to speak to a prisoner, and

especially to a woman.

" 'Alack! What will become of me! Senor Oficial, have pity on me! You

are so young, so good-looking.' Then, in a lower tone, she said, 'Let

me get away, and I'll give you a bit of the /bar lachi/, that will

make every woman fall in love with you!'

"The /bar lachi/, sir, is the loadstone, with which the gipsies

declare one who knows how to use it can cast any number of spells. If

you can make a woman drink a little scrap of it, powdered, in a glass

of white wine, she'll never be able to resist you. I answered, as

gravely as I could:

" 'We are not here to talk nonsense. You'll have to go to prison.

Those are my orders, and there's no help for it!'

"We men from the Basque country have an accent which all Spaniards

easily recognise; on the other hand, not one of them can ever learn to

say /Bai, jaona/!*

*   Yes, sir.

"So Carmen easily guessed I was from the Provinces. You know, sir,

that the gipsies, who belong to no particular country, and are always

moving about, speak every language, and most of them are quite at home

in Portugal, in France, in our Provinces, in Catalonia, or anywhere

else. They can even make themselves understood by Moors and English

people. Carmen knew Basque tolerably well.

" '/Laguna ene bihotsarena/, comrade of my heart,' said she suddenly.

'Do you belong to our country?'

"Our language is so beautiful, sir, that when we hear it in a foreign

country it makes us quiver. I wish," added the bandit in a lower tone,

"I could have a confessor from my own country."

After a silence, he began again.

" 'I belong to Elizondo,' I answered in Basque, very much affected by

the sound of my own language.

" 'I come from Etchalar,' said she (that's a district about four

hours' journey from my home). 'I was carried off to Seville by the

gipsies. I was working in the factory to earn enough money to take me

back to Navarre, to my poor old mother, who has no support in the

world but me, besides her little /barratcea/* with twenty cider-apple

trees in it. Ah! if I were only back in my own country, looking up at

the white mountains! I have been insulted here, because I don't belong

to this land of rogues and sellers of rotten oranges; and those

hussies are all banded together against me, because I told them that

not all their Seville /jacques/,** and all their knives, would

frighten an honest lad from our country, with his blue cap and his

/maquila/! Good comrade, won't you do anything to help your own


*   Field, garden.

**  Bravos, boasters.

"She was lying then, sir, as she has always lied. I don't know that

that girl ever spoke a word of truth in her life, but when she did

speak, I believed her--I couldn't help myself. She mangled her Basque

words, and I believed she came from Navarre. But her eyes and her

mouth and her skin were enough to prove she was a gipsy. I was mad, I

paid no more attention to anything, I thought to myself that if the

Spaniards had dared to speak evil of my country, I would have slashed

their faces just as she had slashed her comrade's. In short, I was

like a drunken man, I was beginning to say foolish things, and I was

very near doing them.

" 'If I were to give you a push and you tumbled down, good fellow-

countryman,' she began again in Basque, 'those two Castilian recruits

wouldn't be able to keep me back.'

"Faith, I forgot my orders, I forgot everything, and I said to her,

'Well, then, my friend, girl of my country, try it, and may our Lady

of the Mountain help you through.'

"Just at that moment we were passing one of the many narrow lanes one

sees in Seville. All at once Carmen turned and struck me in the chest

with her fist. I tumbled backward, purposely. With a bound she sprang

over me, and ran off, showing us a pair of legs! People talk about a

pair of Basque legs! but hers were far better--as fleet as they were

well-turned. As for me, I picked myself up at once, but I stuck out my

lance* crossways and barred the street, so that my comrades were

checked at the very first moment of pursuit. Then I started to run

myself, and they after me--but how were we to catch her? There was no

fear of that, what with our spurs, our swords, and our lances.

*   All Spanish cavalry soldiers carry lances.

"In less time than I have taken to tell you the story the prisoner had

disappeared. And besides, every gossip in the quarter covered her

flight, poked scorn at us, and pointed us in the wrong direction.

After a good deal of marching and countermarching, we had to go back

to the guard-room without a receipt from the governor of the jail.

"To avoid punishment, my men made known that Carmen had spoken to me

in Basque; and to tell the truth, it did not seem very natural that a

blow from such a little creature should have so easily overthrown a

strong fellow like me. The whole thing looked suspicious, or, at all

events, not over-clear. When I came off guard I lost my corporal's

stripes, and was condemned to a month's imprisonment. It was the first

time I had been punished since I had been in the service. Farewell,

now, to the sergeant's stripes, on which I had reckoned so surely!

"The first days in prison were very dreary. When I enlisted I had

fancied I was sure to become an officer, at all events. Two of my

compatriots, Longa and Mina, are captains-general, after all.

Chapalangarra was a colonel, and I have played tennis a score of times

with his brother, who was just a needy fellow like myself. 'Now,' I

kept crying to myself, 'all the time you served without being punished

has been lost. Now you have a bad mark against your name, and to get

yourself back into the officers' good graces you'll have to work ten

times as hard as when you joined as a recruit.' And why have I got

myself punished? For the sake of a gipsy hussy, who made game of me,

and who at this moment is busy thieving in some corner of the town.

Yet I couldn't help thinking about her. Will you believe it, sir,

those silk stockings of hers with the holes in them, of which she had

given me such a full view as she took to her heels, were always before

my eyes? I used to look through the barred windows of the jail into

the street, and among all the women who passed I never could see one

to compare with that minx of a girl--and then, in spite of myself, I

used to smell the acacia blossom she had thrown at me, and which, dry

as it was, still kept its sweet scent. If there are such things as

witches, that girl certainly was one.

"One day the jailer came in, and gave me an Alcala roll.*

*   /Alcala de los Panaderos/, a village two leagues from Seville,

    where the most delicious rolls are made. They are said to owe

    their quality to the water of the place, and great quantities of

    them are brought to Seville every day.

" 'Look here,' said he, 'this is what your cousin has sent you.'

"I took the loaf, very much astonished, for I had no cousin in

Seville. It may be a mistake, thought I, as I looked at the roll, but

it was so appetizing and smelt so good, that I made up my mind to eat

it, without troubling my head as to whence it came, or for whom it was

really intended.

"When I tried to cut it, my knife struck on something hard. I looked,

and found a little English file, which had been slipped into the dough

before the roll had been baked. The roll also contained a gold piece

of two piastres. Then I had no further doubt--it was a present from

Carmen. To people of her blood, liberty is everything, and they would

set a town on fire to save themselves one day in prison. The girl was

artful, indeed, and armed with that roll, I might have snapped my

fingers at the jailers. In one hour, with that little file, I could

have sawn through the thickest bar, and with the gold coin I could

have exchanged my soldier's cloak for civilian garb at the nearest

shop. You may fancy that a man who has often taken the eaglets out of

their nests in our cliff would have found no difficulty in getting

down to the street out of a window less than thirty feet above it. But

I didn't choose to escape. I still had a soldier's code of honour, and

desertion appeared to me in the light of a heinous crime. Yet this

proof of remembrance touched me. When a man is in prison he likes to

think he has a friend outside who takes an interest in him. The gold

coin did rather offend me; I should have very much liked to return it;

but where was I to find my creditor? That did not seem a very easy


"After the ceremony of my degradation I had fancied my sufferings were

over, but I had another humiliation before me. That came when I left

prison, and was told off for duty, and put on sentry, as a private

soldier. You can not conceive what a proud man endures at such a

moment. I believe I would have just as soon been shot dead--then I

should have marched alone at the head of my platoon, at all events; I

should have felt I was somebody, with the eyes of others fixed upon


"I was posted as sentry on the door of the colonel's house. The

colonel was a young man, rich, good-natured, fond of amusing himself.

All the young officers were there, and many civilians as well, besides

ladies--actresses, as it was said. For my part, it seemed to me as if

the whole town had agreed to meet at that door, in order to stare at

me. Then up drove the colonel's carriage, with his valet on the box.

And who should I see get out of it, but the gipsy girl! She was

dressed up, this time, to the eyes, togged out in golden ribbons--a

spangled gown, blue shoes, all spangled too, flowers and gold lace all

over her. In her hand she carried a tambourine. With her there were

two other gipsy women, one young and one old. They always have one old

woman who goes with them, and then an old man with a guitar, a gipsy

too, to play alone, and also for their dances. You must know these

gipsy girls are often sent for to private houses, to dance their

special dance, the /Romalis/, and often, too, for quite other


"Carmen recognised me, and we exchanged glances. I don't know why, but

at that moment I should have liked to have been a hundred feet beneath

the ground.

" '/Agur laguna/,'* said she. 'Oficial mio! You keep guard like a

recruit,' and before I could find a word in answer, she was inside the


*   Good-day, comrade!

"The whole party was assembled in the /patio/, and in spite of the

crowd I could see nearly everything that went on through the lattice.*

I could hear the castanets and the tambourine, the laughter and

applause. Sometimes I caught a glimpse of her head as she bounded

upward with her tambourine. Then I could hear the officers saying many

things to her which brought the blood to my face. As to her answers, I

knew nothing of them. It was on that day, I think, that I began to

love her in earnest--for three or four times I was tempted to rush

into the /patio/, and drive my sword into the bodies of all the

coxcombs who were making love to her. My torture lasted a full hour;

then the gipsies came out, and the carriage took them away. As she

passed me by, Carmen looked at me with those eyes you know, and said

to me very low, 'Comrade, people who are fond of good /fritata/ come

to eat it at Lillas Pastia's at Triana!'

*   In most of the houses in Seville there is an inner court

    surrounded by an arched portico. This is used as a sitting-room in

    summer. Over the court is stretched a piece of tent cloth, which

    is watered during the day and removed at night. The street door is

    almost always left open, and the passage leading to the court

    (/zaguan/) is closed by an iron lattice of very elegant


"Then, light as a kid, she stepped into the carriage, the coachman

whipped up his mules, and the whole merry party departed, whither I

know not.

"You may fancy that the moment I was off guard I went to Triana; but

first of all I got myself shaved and brushed myself up as if I had

been going on parade. She was living with Lillas Pastia, an old fried-

fish seller, a gipsy, as black as a Moor, to whose house a great many

civilians resorted to eat /fritata/, especially, I think, because

Carmen had taken up her quarters there.

" 'Lillas,' she said, as soon as she saw me. 'I'm not going to work

any more to-day. To-morrow will be a day, too.* Come, fellow-

countryman, let us go for a walk!'

*   /Manana sera otro dia./--A Spanish proverb.

"She pulled her mantilla across her nose, and there we were in the

street, without my knowing in the least whither I was bound.

" 'Senorita,' said I, 'I think I have to thank you for a present I had

while I was in prison. I've eaten the bread; the file will do for

sharpening my lance, and I keep it in remembrance of you. But as for

the money, here it is.'

" 'Why, he's kept the money!' she exclaimed, bursting out laughing.

'But, after all, that's all the better--for I'm decidedly hard up!

What matter! The dog that runs never starves!* Come, let's spend it

all! You shall treat.'

*   /Chuquel sos pirela, cocal terela. "The dog that runs finds a

    bone."--Gipsy proverb.

"We had turned back toward Seville. At the entrance of the /Calle de

la Serpiente/ she bought a dozen oranges, which she made me put into

my handkerchief. A little farther on she bought a roll, a sausage, and

a bottle of manzanilla. Then, last of all, she turned into a

confectioner's shop. There she threw the gold coin I had returned to

her on the counter, with another she had in her pocket, and some small

silver, and then she asked me for all the money I had. All I possessed

was one peseta and a few cuartos, which I handed over to her, very

much ashamed of not having more. I thought she would have carried away

the whole shop. She took everything that was best and dearest,

/yemas/,* /turon/,** preserved fruits--as long as the money lasted.

And all these, too, I had to carry in paper bags. Perhaps you know the

/Calle del Candilejo/, where there is a head of Don Pedro the

Avenger.*** That head ought to have given me pause. We stopped at an

old house in that street. She passed into the entry, and knocked at a

door on the ground floor. It was opened by a gipsy, a thorough-paced

servant of the devil. Carmen said a few words to her in Romany. At

first the old hag grumbled. To smooth her down Carmen gave her a

couple of oranges and a handful of sugar-plums, and let her have a

taste of wine. Then she hung her cloak on her back, and led her to the

door, which she fastened with a wooden bar. As soon as we were alone

she began to laugh and caper like a lunatic, singing out, 'You are my

/rom/, I'm your /romi/.'****

*   Sugared yolks of eggs.

**  A sort of nougat.

*** This king, Don Pedro, whom we call "the Cruel," and whom Queen

    Isabella, the Catholic, never called anything but "the Avenger,"

    was fond of walking about the streets of Seville at night in

    search of adventures, like the Caliph Haroun al Raschid. One

    night, in a lonely street, he quarrelled with a man who was

    singing a serenade. There was a fight, and the king killed the

    amorous /caballero/. At the clashing of their swords, an old woman

    put her head out of the window and lighted up the scene with a

    tiny lamp (candilejo) which she held in her hand. My readers must

    be informed that King Don Pedro, though nimble and muscular,

    suffered from one strange fault in his physical conformation.

    Whenever he walked his knees cracked loudly. By this cracking the

    old woman easily recognised him. The next day the /veintiquatro/

    in charge came to make his report to the king. "Sir, a duel was

    fought last night in such a street--one of the combatants is

    dead." "Have you found the murderer?" "Yes, sir." "Why has he not

    been punished already?" "Sir, I await your orders!" "Carry out the

    law." Now the king had just published a decree that every duellist

    was to have his head cut off, and that head was to be set up on

    the scene of the fight. The /veintiquatro/ got out of the

    difficulty like a clever man. He had the head sawed off a statue

    of the king, and set that up in a niche in the middle of the

    street in which the murder had taken place. The king and all the

    Sevillians thought this a very good joke. The street took its name

    from the lamp held by the old woman, the only witness of the

    incident. The above is the popular tradition. Zuniga tells the

    story somewhat differently. However that may be, a street called

    /Calle del Candilejo/ still exists in Seville, and in that street

    there is a bust which is said to be a portrait of Don Pedro. This

    bust, unfortunately, is a modern production. During the

    seventeenth century the old one had become very much defaced, and

    the municipality had it replaced by that now to be seen.

**** /Rom/, husband. /Romi/, wife.

"There I stood in the middle of the room, laden with all her

purchases, and not knowing where I was to put them down. She tumbled

them all onto the floor, and threw her arms round my neck, saying:

" 'I pay my debts, I pay my debts! That's the law of the /Cales/.'*

*   /Calo/, feminine /calli/, plural /cales/. Literally "black," the

    name the gipsies apply to themselves in their own language.

"Ah, sir, that day! that day! When I think of it I forget what

to-morrow must bring me!"

For a moment the bandit held his peace, then, when he had relighted

his cigar, he began afresh.

"We spent the whole day together, eating, drinking, and so forth. When

she had stuffed herself with sugar-plums, like any child of six years

old, she thrust them by handfuls into the old woman's water-jar.

'That'll make sherbet for her,' she said. She smashed the /yemas/ by

throwing them against the walls. 'They'll keep the flies from

bothering us.' There was no prank or wild frolic she didn't indulge

in. I told her I should have liked to see her dance, only there were

no castanets to be had. Instantly she seized the old woman's only

earthenware plate, smashed it up, and there she was dancing the

/Romalis/, and making the bits of broken crockery rattle as well as if

they had been ebony and ivory castanets. That girl was good company, I

can tell you! Evening fell, and I heard the drums beating tattoo.

" 'I must get back to quarters for roll-call,' I said.

" 'To quarters!' she answered, with a look of scorn. 'Are you a negro

slave, to let yourself be driven with a ramrod like that! You are as

silly as a canary bird. Your dress suits your nature.* Pshaw! you've

no more heart than a chicken.'

*   Spanish dragoons wear a yellow uniform.

"I stayed on, making up my mind to the inevitable guard-room. The next

morning the first suggestion of parting came from her.

" 'Hark ye, Joseito,' she said. 'Have I paid you? By our law, I owed

you nothing, because you're a /payllo/. But you're a good-looking

fellow, and I took a fancy to you. Now we're quits. Good-day!'

"I asked her when I should see her again.

" 'When you're less of a simpleton,' she retorted, with a laugh. Then,

in a more serious tone, 'Do you know, my son, I really believe I love

you a little; but that can't last! The dog and the wolf can't agree

for long. Perhaps if you turned gipsy, I might care to be your /romi/.

But that's all nonsense, such things aren't possible. Pshaw! my boy.

Believe me, you're well out of it. You've come across the devil--he

isn't always black--and you've not had your neck wrung. I wear a

woollen suit, but I'm no sheep.* Go and burn a candle to your

/majari/,** she deserves it well. Come, good-by once more. Don't think

any more about /La Carmencita/, or she'll end by making you marry a

widow with wooden legs.'***

*   /Me dicas vriarda de jorpoy, bus ne sino braco/.--A gipsy proverb.

**  The Saint, the Holy Virgin.

*** The gallows, which is the widow of the last man hanged upon it.

"As she spoke, she drew back the bar that closed the door, and once we

were out in the street she wrapped her mantilla about her, and turned

on her heel.

"She spoke the truth. I should have done far better never to think of

her again. But after that day in the /Calle del Candilejo/ I couldn't

think of anything else. All day long I used to walk about, hoping I

might meet her. I sought news of her from the old hag, and from the

fried-fish seller. They both told me she had gone away to /Laloro/,

which is their name for Portugal. They probably said it by Carmen's

orders, but I soon found out they were lying. Some weeks after my day

in the /Calle del Candilejo/ I was on duty at one of the town gates. A

little way from the gate there was a breach in the wall. The masons

were working at it in the daytime, and at night a sentinel was posted

on it, to prevent smugglers from getting in. All through one day I saw

Lillas Pastia going backward and forward near the guard-room, and

talking to some of my comrades. They all knew him well, and his fried-

fish and fritters even better. He came up to me, and asked if I had

any news of Carmen.

" 'No,' said I.

" 'Well,' said he, 'you'll soon hear of her, old fellow.'

"He was not mistaken. That night I was posted to guard the breach in

the wall. As soon as the sergeant had disappeared I saw a woman coming

toward me. My heart told me it was Carmen. Still I shouted:

" 'Keep off! Nobody can pass here!'

" 'Now, don't be spiteful,' she said, making herself known to me.

" 'What! you here, Carmen?'

" 'Yes, /mi payllo/. Let us say few words, but wise ones. Would you

like to earn a douro? Some people will be coming with bundles. Let

them alone.'

" 'No,' said I, 'I must not allow them through. These are my orders.'

" 'Orders! orders! You didn't think about orders in the /Calle del


" 'Ah!' I cried, quite maddened by the very thought of that night. 'It

was well worth while to forget my orders for that! But I won't have

any smuggler's money!'

" 'Well, if you won't have money, shall we go and dine together at old


" 'No,' said I, half choked by the effort it cost me. 'No, I can't.'

" 'Very good! If you make so many difficulties, I know to whom I can

go. I'll ask your officer if he'll come with me to Dorotea's. He looks

good-natured, and he'll post a sentry who'll only see what he had

better see. Good-bye, canary-bird! I shall have a good laugh the day

the order comes out to hang you!'

"I was weak enough to call her back, and I promised to let the whole

of gipsydom pass in, if that were necessary, so that I secured the

only reward I longed for. She instantly swore she would keep her word

faithfully the very next day, and ran off to summon her friends, who

were close by. There were five of them, of whom Pastia was one, all

well loaded with English goods. Carmen kept watch for them. She was to

warn them with her castanets the instant she caught sight of the

patrol. But there was no necessity for that. The smugglers finished

their job in a moment.

"The next day I went to the /Calle del Candilejo/. Carmen kept me

waiting, and when she came, she was in rather a bad temper.

" 'I don't like people who have to be pressed,' she said. 'You did me

a much greater service the first time, without knowing you'd gain

anything by it. Yesterday you bargained with me. I don't know why I've

come, for I don't care for you any more. Here, be off with you. Here's

a douro for your trouble.'

"I very nearly threw the coin at her head, and I had to make a violent

effort to prevent myself from actually beating her. After we had

wrangled for an hour I went off in a fury. For some time I wandered

about the town, walking hither and thither like a madman. At last I

went into a church, and getting into the darkest corner I could find,

I cried hot tears. All at once I heard a voice.

" 'A dragoon in tears. I'll make a philter of them!'

"I looked up. There was Carmen in front of me.

" 'Well, /mi payllo/, are you still angry with me?' she said. 'I must

care for you in spite of myself, for since you left me I don't know

what has been the matter with me. Look you, it is I who ask you to

come to the /Calle del Candilejo/, now!'

"So we made it up: but Carmen's temper was like the weather in our

country. The storm is never so close, in our mountains, as when the

sun is at its brightest. She had promised to meet me again at

Dorotea's, but she didn't come.

"And Dorotea began telling me again that she had gone off to Portugal

about some gipsy business.

"As experience had already taught me how much of that I was to

believe, I went about looking for Carmen wherever I thought she might

be, and twenty times in every day I walked through the /Calle del

Candilejo/. One evening I was with Dorotea, whom I had almost tamed by

giving her a glass of anisette now and then, when Carmen walked in,

followed by a young man, a lieutenant in our regiment.

" 'Get away at once,' she said to me in Basque. I stood there,

dumfounded, my heart full of rage.

" 'What are you doing here?' said the lieutenant to me. 'Take yourself

off--get out of this.'

"I couldn't move a step. I felt paralyzed. The officer grew angry, and

seeing I did not go out, and had not even taken off my forage cap, he

caught me by the collar and shook me roughly. I don't know what I said

to him. He drew his sword, and I unsheathed mine. The old woman caught

hold of my arm, and the lieutenant gave me a wound on the forehead, of

which I still bear the scar. I made a step backward, and with one jerk

of my elbow I threw old Dorotea down. Then, as the lieutenant still

pressed me, I turned the point of my sword against his body and he ran

upon it. Then Carmen put out the lamp and told Dorotea, in her own

language, to take to flight. I fled into the street myself, and began

running along, I knew not whither. It seemed to me that some one was

following me. When I came to myself I discovered that Carmen had never

left me.

" 'Great stupid of a canary-bird!' she said, 'you never make anything

but blunders. And, indeed, you know I told you I should bring you bad

luck. But come, there's a cure for everything when you have a Fleming

from Rome* for your love. Begin by rolling this handkerchief round

your head, and throw me over that belt of yours. Wait for me in this

alley--I'll be back in two minutes.

*   /Flamenco de Roma/, a slang term for the gipsies. Roma does not

    stand for the Eternal City, but for the nation of the /romi/, or

    the married folk--a name applied by the gipsies to themselves. The

    first gipsies seen in Spain probably came from the Low Countries,

    hence their name of /Flemings/.

"She disappeared, and soon came back bringing me a striped cloak which

she had gone to fetch, I knew not whence. She made me take off my

uniform, and put on the cloak over my shirt. Thus dressed, and with

the wound on my head bound round with the handkerchief, I was

tolerably like a Valencian peasant, many of whom come to Seville to

sell a drink they make out of '/chufas/.'* Then she took me to a house

very much like Dorotea's, at the bottom of a little lane. Here she and

another gipsy woman washed and dressed my wounds, better than any army

surgeon could have done, gave me something, I know not what, to drink,

and finally made me lie down on a mattress, on which I went to sleep.

*   A bulbous root, out of which rather a pleasant beverage is


"Probably the woman had mixed one of the soporific drugs of which they

know the secret in my drink, for I did not wake up till very late the

next day. I was rather feverish, and had a violent headache. It was

some time before the memory of the terrible scene in which I had taken

part on the previous night came back to me. After having dressed my

wound, Carmen and her friend, squatting on their heels beside my

mattress, exchanged a few words of '/chipe calli/,' which appeared to

me to be something in the nature of a medical consultation. Then they

both of them assured me that I should soon be cured, but that I must

get out of Seville at the earliest possible moment, for that, if I was

caught there, I should most undoubtedly be shot.

" 'My boy,' said Carmen to me, 'you'll have to do something. Now that

the king won't give you either rice or haddock* you'll have to think

of earning your livelihood. You're too stupid for stealing /a

pastesas/.** But you are brave and active. If you have the pluck, take

yourself off to the coast and turn smuggler. Haven't I promised to get

you hanged? That's better than being shot, and besides, if you set

about it properly, you'll live like a prince as long as the

/minons/*** and the coast-guard don't lay their hands on your collar.'

*   The ordinary food of a Spanish soldier.

**  /Ustilar a pastesas/, to steal cleverly, to purloin without


*** A sort of volunteer corps.

"In this attractive guise did this fiend of a girl describe the new

career she was suggesting to me,--the only one, indeed, remaining, now

I had incurred the penalty of death. Shall I confess it, sir? She

persuaded me without much difficulty. This wild and dangerous life, it

seemed to me, would bind her and me more closely together. In future,

I thought, I should be able to make sure of her love.

"I had often heard talk of certain smugglers who travelled about

Andalusia, each riding a good horse, with his mistress behind him and

his blunderbuss in his fist. Already I saw myself trotting up and down

the world, with a pretty gipsy behind me. When I mentioned that notion

to her, she laughed till she had to hold her sides, and vowed there

was nothing in the world so delightful as a night spent camping in the

open air, when each /rom/ retired with his /romi/ beneath their little

tent, made of three hoops with a blanket thrown across them.

" 'If I take to the mountains,' said I to her, 'I shall be sure of

you. There'll be no lieutenant there to go shares with me.'

" 'Ha! ha! you're jealous!' she retorted, 'so much the worse for you.

How can you be such a fool as that? Don't you see I must love you,

because I have never asked you for money?'

"When she said that sort to thing I could have strangled her.

"To shorten the story, sir, Carmen procured me civilian clothes,

disguised in which I got out of Seville without being recognised. I

went to Jerez, with a letter from Pastia to a dealer in anisette whose

house was the smugglers' meeting-place. I was introduced to them, and

their leader, surnamed /El Dancaire/, enrolled me in his gang. We

started for Gaucin, where I found Carmen, who had told me she would

meet me there. In all these expeditions she acted as spy for our gang,

and she was the best that ever was seen. She had now just returned

from Gibraltar, and had already arranged with the captain of a ship

for a cargo of English goods which we were to receive on the coast. We

went to meet it near Estepona. We hid part in the mountains, and laden

with the rest, we proceeded to Ronda. Carmen had gone there before us.

It was she again who warned us when we had better enter the town. This

first journey, and several subsequent ones, turned out well. I found

the smuggler's life pleasanter than a soldier's: I could give presents

to Carmen, I had money, and I had a mistress. I felt little or no

remorse, for, as the gipsies say, 'The happy man never longs to

scratch his itch.' We were made welcome everywhere, my comrades

treated me well, and even showed me a certain respect. The reason of

this was that I had killed my man, and that some of them had no

exploit of that description on their conscience. But what I valued

most in my new life was that I often saw Carmen. She showed me more

affection than ever; nevertheless, she would never admit, before my

comrades, that she was my mistress, and she had even made me swear all

sorts of oaths that I would not say anything about her to them. I was

so weak in that creature's hands, that I obeyed all her whims. And

besides, this was the first time she had revealed herself as

possessing any of the reserve of a well-conducted woman, and I was

simple enough to believe she had really cast off her former habits.

"Our gang, which consisted of eight or ten men, was hardly ever

together except at decisive moments, and we were usually scattered by

twos and threes about the towns and villages. Each one of us pretended

to have some trade. One was a tinker, another was a groom; I was

supposed to peddle haberdashery, but I hardly ever showed myself in

large places, on account of my unlucky business at Seville. One day,

or rather one night, we were to meet below Veger. /El Dancaire/ and I

got there before the others.

" 'We shall soon have a new comrade,' said he. 'Carmen has just

managed one of her best tricks. She has contrived the escape of her

/rom/, who was in the /presidio/ at Tarifa.'

"I was already beginning to understand the gipsy language, which

nearly all my comrades spoke, and this word /rom/ startled me.

"What! her husband? Is she married, then?' said I to the captain.

" 'Yes!' he replied, 'married to Garcia /el Tuerto/*--as cunning a

gipsy as she is herself. The poor fellow has been at the galleys.

Carmen has wheedled the surgeon of the /presidio/ to such good purpose

that she has managed to get her /rom/ out of prison. Faith! that

girl's worth her weight in gold. For two years she has been trying to

contrive his escape, but she could do nothing until the authorities

took it into their heads to change the surgeon. She soon managed to

come to an understanding with this new one.'

*   One-eyed man.

"You may imagine how pleasant this news was for me. I soon saw Garcia

/el Tuerto/. He was the very ugliest brute that was ever nursed in

gipsydom. His skin was black, his soul was blacker, and he was

altogether the most thorough-paced ruffian I ever came across in my

life. Carmen arrived with him, and when she called him her /rom/ in my

presence, you should have seen the eyes she made at me, and the faces

she pulled whenever Garcia turned his head away.

"I was disgusted, and never spoke a word to her all night. The next

morning we had made up our packs, and had already started, when we

became aware that we had a dozen horsemen on our heels. The braggart

Andalusians, who had been boasting they would murder every one who

came near them, cut a pitiful figure at once. There was a general

rout. /El Dancaire/, Garcia, a good-looking fellow from Ecija, who was

called /El Remendado/, and Carmen herself, kept their wits about them.

The rest forsook the mules and took to the gorges, where the horses

could not follow them. There was no hope of saving the mules, so we

hastily unstrapped the best part of our booty, and taking it on our

shoulders, we tried to escape through the rocks down the steepest of

the slopes. We threw our packs down in front of us and followed them

as best we could, slipping along on our heels. Meanwhile the enemy

fired at us. It was the first time I had ever heard bullets whistling

around me and I didn't mind it very much. When there's a woman looking

on, there's no particular merit in snapping one's fingers at death. We

all escaped except the poor /Remendado/, who received a bullet wound

in the loins. I threw away my pack and tried to lift him up.

" 'Idiot!' shouted Garcia, 'what do we want with offal! Finish him

off, and don't lose the cotton stockings!'

" 'Drop him!' cried Carmen.

"I was so exhausted that I was obliged to lay him down for a moment

under a rock. Garcia came up, and fired his blunderbuss full into his

face. 'He'd be a clever fellow who recognised him now!' said he, as he

looked at the face, cut to pieces by a dozen slugs.

"There, sir; that's the delightful sort of life I've led! That night

we found ourselves in a thicket, worn out with fatigue, with nothing

to eat, and ruined by the loss of our mules. What do you think that

devil Garcia did? He pulled a pack of cards out of his pocket and

began playing games with /El Dancaire/ by the light of a fire they

kindled. Meanwhile I was lying down, staring at the stars, thinking of

/El Remendado/, and telling myself I would just as lief be in his

place. Carmen was squatting down near me, and every now and then she

would rattle her castanets and hum a tune. Then, drawing close to me,

as if she would have whispered in my ear, she kissed me two or three

times over almost against my will.

" 'You are a devil,' said I to her.

" 'Yes,' she replied.

"After a few hours' rest, she departed to Gaucin, and the next morning

a little goatherd brought us some food. We stayed there all that day,

and in the evening we moved close to Gaucin. We were expecting news

from Carmen, but none came. After daylight broke we saw a muleteer

attending a well-dressed woman with a parasol, and a little girl who

seemed to be her servant. Said Garcia, 'There go two mules and two

women whom St. Nicholas has sent us. I would rather have had four

mules, but no matter. I'll do the best I can with these.'

"He took his blunderbuss, and went down the pathway, hiding himself

among the brushwood.

"We followed him, /El Dancaire/ and I keeping a little way behind. As

soon as the woman saw us, instead of being frightened--and our dress

would have been enough to frighten any one--she burst into a fit of

loud laughter. 'Ah! the /lillipendi/! They take me for an /erani/!'*

*   "The idiots, they take me for a smart lady!"

"It was Carmen, but so well disguised that if she had spoken any other

language I should never have recognised her. She sprang off her mule,

and talked some time in an undertone with /El Dancaire/ and Garcia.

Then she said to me:

" 'Canary-bird, we shall meet again before you're hanged. I'm off to

Gibraltar on gipsy business--you'll soon have news of me.'

"We parted, after she had told us of a place where we should find

shelter for some days. That girl was the providence of our gang. We

soon received some money sent by her, and a piece of news which was

still more useful to us--to the effect that on a certain day two

English lords would travel from Gibraltar to Granada by a road she

mentioned. This was a word to the wise. They had plenty of good

guineas. Garcia would have killed them, but /El Dancaire/ and I

objected. All we took from them, besides their shirts, which we

greatly needed, was their money and their watches.

"Sir, a man may turn rogue in sheer thoughtlessness. You lose your

head over a pretty girl, you fight another man about her, there is a

catastrophe, you have to take to the mountains, and you turn from a

smuggler into a robber before you have time to think about it. After

this matter of the English lords, we concluded that the neighbourhood

of Gibraltar would not be healthy for us, and we plunged into the

/Sierra de Ronda/. You once mentioned Jose-Maria to me. Well, it was

there I made acquaintance with him. He always took his mistress with

him on his expeditions. She was a pretty girl, quiet, modest, well-

mannered, you never heard a vulgar word from her, and she was quite

devoted to him. He, on his side, led her a very unhappy life. He was

always running after other women, he ill-treated her, and then

sometimes he would take it into his head to be jealous. One day he

slashed her with a knife. Well, she only doted on him the more! That's

the way with women, and especially with Andalusians. This girl was

proud of the scar on her arm, and would display it as though it were

the most beautiful thing in the world. And then Jose-Maria was the

worst of comrades in the bargain. In one expedition we made with him,

he managed so that he kept all the profits, and we had all the trouble

and the blows. But I must go back to my story. We had no sign at all

from Carmen. /El Dancaire/ said: 'One of us will have to go to

Gibraltar to get news of her. She must have planned some business. I'd

go at once, only I'm too well known at Gibraltar.' /El Tuerto/ said:

" 'I'm well known there too. I've played so many tricks on the

crayfish*--and as I've only one eye, it is not overeasy for me to

disguise myself.'

*   Name applied by the Spanish populace to the British soldiers, on

    account of the colour of their uniform.

" 'Then I suppose I must go,' said I, delighted at the very idea of

seeing Carmen again. 'Well, how am I to set about it?'

"The others answered:

" 'You must either go by sea, or you must get through by San Rocco,

whichever you like the best; once you are in Gibraltar, inquire in the

port where a chocolate-seller called /La Rollona/ lives. When you've

found her, she'll tell you everything that's happening.'

"It was settled that we were all to start for the Sierra, that I was

to leave my two companions there, and take my way to Gibraltar, in the

character of a fruit-seller. At Ronda one of our men procured me a

passport; at Gaucin I was provided with a donkey. I loaded it with

oranges and melons, and started forth. When I reached Gibraltar I

found that many people knew /La Rollona/, but that she was either dead

or had gone /ad finibus terroe/,* and, to my mind, her disappearance

explained the failure of our correspondence with Carmen. I stabled my

donkey, and began to move about the town, carrying my oranges as

though to sell them, but in reality looking to see whether I could not

come across any face I knew. The place is full of ragamuffins from

every country in the world, and it really is like the Tower of Babel,

for you can't go ten paces along a street without hearing as many

languages. I did see some gipsies, but I hardly dared confide in them.

I was taking stock of them, and they were taking stock of me. We had

mutually guessed each other to be rogues, but the important thing for

us was to know whether we belonged to the same gang. After having

spent two days in fruitless wanderings, and having found out nothing

either as to /La Rollona/ or as to Carmen, I was thinking I would go

back to my comrades as soon as I had made a few purchases, when,

toward sunset, as I was walking along a street, I heard a woman's

voice from a window say, 'Orange-seller!'

*   To the galleys, or else to all the devils in hell.

"I looked up, and on a balcony I saw Carmen looking out, beside a

scarlet-coated officer with gold epaulettes, curly hair, and all the

appearance of a rich /milord/. As for her, she was magnificently

dressed, a shawl hung on her shoulders, she'd a gold comb in her hair,

everything she wore was of silk; and the cunning little wretch, not a

bit altered, was laughing till she held her sides.

"The Englishman shouted to me in mangled Spanish to come upstairs, as

the lady wanted some oranges, and Carmen said to me in Basque:

" 'Come up, and don't look astonished at anything!'

"Indeed, nothing that she did ought ever to have astonished me. I

don't know whether I was most happy or wretched at seeing her again.

At the door of the house there was a tall English servant with a

powdered head, who ushered me into a splendid drawing-room. Instantly

Carmen said to me in Basque, 'You don't know one word of Spanish, and

you don't know me.' Then turning to the Englishman, she added:

" 'I told you so. I saw at once he was a Basque. Now you'll hear what

a queer language he speaks. Doesn't he look silly? He's like a cat

that's been caught in the larder!'

" 'And you,' said I to her in my own language, 'you look like an

impudent jade--and I've a good mind to scar your face here and now,

before your spark.'

" 'My spark!' said she. 'Why, you've guessed that all alone! Are you

jealous of this idiot? You're even sillier than you were before our

evening in the /Calle del Candilejo/! Don't you see, fool, that at

this moment I'm doing gipsy business, and doing it in the most

brilliant manner? This house belongs to me--the guineas of that

crayfish will belong to me! I lead him by the nose, and I'll lead him

to a place that he'll never get out of!'

" 'And if I catch you doing any gipsy business in this style again,

I'll see to it that you never do any again!' said I.

" 'Ah! upon my word! Are you my /rom/, pray that you give me orders?

If /El Tuerto/ is pleased, what have you to do with it? Oughtn't you

to be very happy that you are the only man who can call himself my


*   My "lover," or rather my "fancy."

" 'What does he say?' inquired the Englishman.

" 'He says he's thirsty, and would like a drink,' answered Carmen, and

she threw herself back upon a sofa, screaming with laughter at her own


"When that girl begins to laugh, sir, it was hopeless for anybody to

try and talk sense. Everybody laughed with her. The big Englishman

began to laugh too, like the idiot he was, and ordered the servant to

bring me something to drink.

"While I was drinking she said to me:

" 'Do you see that ring he has on his finger? If you like I'll give it

to you.'

"And I answered:

" 'I would give one of my fingers to have your /milord/ out on the

mountains, and each of us with a /maquila/ in his fist.'

" '/Maquila/, what does that mean?' asked the Englishman.

" 'Maquila,' said Carmen, still laughing, 'means an orange. Isn't it a

queer word for an orange? He says he'd like you to eat /maquila/.'

" 'Does he?' said the Englishman. 'Very well, bring more /maquila/


"While we were talking a servant came in and said dinner was ready.

Then the Englishman stood up, gave me a piastre, and offered his arm

to Carmen, as if she couldn't have walked alone. Carmen, who was still

laughing, said to me:

" 'My boy, I can't ask you to dinner. But to-morrow, as soon as you

hear the drums beat for parade, come here with your oranges. You'll

find a better furnished room than the one in the /Calle del

Candilejo/, and you'll see whether I am still your /Carmencita/. Then

afterwards we'll talk about gipsy business.'

"I gave her no answer--even when I was in the street I could hear the

Englishman shouting, 'Bring more /maquila/ to-morrow,' and Carmen's

peals of laughter.

"I went out, not knowing what I should do; I hardly slept, and next

morning I was so enraged with the treacherous creature that I made up

my mind to leave Gibraltar without seeing her again. But the moment

the drums began to roll, my courage failed me. I took up my net full

of oranges, and hurried off to Carmen's house. Her window-shutters had

been pulled apart a little, and I saw her great dark eyes watching for

me. The powdered servant showed me in at once. Carmen sent him out

with a message, and as soon as we were alone she burst into one of her

fits of crocodile laughter and threw her arms around my neck. Never

had I seen her look so beautiful. She was dressed out like a queen,

and scented; she had silken furniture, embroidered curtains--and I

togged out like the thief I was!

" '/Minchorro/,' said Carmen, 'I've a good mind to smash up everything

here, set fire to the house, and take myself off to the mountains.'

And then she would fondle me, and then she would laugh, and she danced

about and tore up her fripperies. Never did monkey gambol nor make

such faces, nor play such wild tricks, as she did that day. When she

had recovered her gravity--

" 'Hark!' she said, 'this is gipsy business. I mean him to take me to

Ronda, where I have a sister who is a nun' (here she shrieked with

laughter again). 'We shall pass by a particular spot which I shall

make known to you. Then you must fall upon him and strip him to the

skin. Your best plan would be to do for him, but,' she added, with a

certain fiendish smile of hers, which no one who saw it ever had any

desire to imitate, 'do you know what you had better do? Let /El

Tuerto/ come up in front of you. You keep a little behind. The

crayfish is brave, and skilful too, and he has good pistols. Do you


"And she broke off with another fit of laughter that made me shiver.

" 'No,' said I, 'I hate Garcia, but he's my comrade. Some day, maybe,

I'll rid you of him, but we'll settle our account after the fashion of

my country. It's only chance that has made me a gipsy, and in certain

things I shall always be a thorough Navarrese,* as the proverb says.

*   /Navarro fino/.

" 'You're a fool,' she rejoined, 'a simpleton, a regular /payllo/.

You're just like the dwarf who thinks himself tall because he can spit

a long way.* You don't love me! Be off with you!'

*   /Or esorjle de or marsichisle, sin chisnar lachinguel/. "The

    promise of a dwarf is that he will spit a long way."--A gipsy


"Whenever she said to me 'Be off with you," I couldn't go away. I

promised I would start back to my comrades and wait the arrival of the

Englishman. She, on her side, promised she would be ill until she left

Gibraltar for Ronda.

"I remained at Gibraltar two days longer. She had the boldness to

disguise herself and come and see me at the inn. I departed, I had a

plan of my own. I went back to our meeting-place with the information

as to the spot and the hour at which the Englishman and Carmen were to

pass by. I found /El Dancaire/ and Garcia waiting for me. We spent the

night in a wood, beside a fire made of pine-cones that blazed

splendidly. I suggested to Garcia that we should play cards, and he

agreed. In the second game I told him he was cheating; he began to

laugh; I threw the cards in his face. He tried to get at his

blunderbuss. I set my foot on it, and said, 'They say you can use a

knife as well as the best ruffian in Malaga; will you try it with me?'

/El Dancaire/ tried to part us. I had given Garcia one or two cuffs,

his rage had given him courage, he drew his knife, and I drew mine. We

both of us told /El Dancaire/ he must leave us alone, and let us fight

it out. He saw there was no means of stopping us, so he stood on one

side. Garcia was already bent double, like a cat ready to spring upon

a mouse. He held his hat in his left hand to parry with, and his knife

in front of him--that's their Andalusian guard. I stood up in the

Navarrese fashion, with my left arm raised, my left leg forward, and

my knife held straight along my right thigh. I felt I was stronger

than any giant. He flew at me like an arrow. I turned round on my left

foot, so that he found nothing in front of him. But I thrust him in

the throat, and the knife went in so far that my hand was under his

chin. I gave the blade such a twist that it broke. That was the end.

The blade was carried out of the wound by a gush of blood as thick as

my arm, and he fell full length on his face.

" 'What have you done?' said /El Dancaire/ to me.

" 'Hark ye,' said I, 'we couldn't live on together. I love Carmen and

I mean to be the only one. And besides, Garcia was a villain. I

remember what he did to that poor /Remendado/. There are only two of

us left now, but we are both good fellows. Come, will you have me for

your friend, for life or death?'

"/El Dancaire/ stretched out his hand. He was a man of fifty.

" 'Devil take these love stories!' he cried. 'If you'd asked him for

Carmen he'd have sold her to you for a piastre! There are only two of

us now--how shall we manage for to-morrow?'

" 'I'll manage it all alone,' I answered. 'I can snap my fingers at

the whole world now.'

"We buried Garcia, and we moved our camp two hundred paces farther on.

The next morning Carmen and her Englishman came along with two

muleteers and a servant. I said to /El Dancaire/:

" 'I'll look after the Englishman, you frighten the others--they're

not armed!'

"The Englishman was a plucky fellow. He'd have killed me if Carmen

hadn't jogged his elbow.

"To put it shortly, I won Carmen back that day, and my first words

were to tell her she was a widow.

"When she knew how it had all happened--

" 'You'll always be a /lillipendi/,' she said. 'Garcia ought to have

killed you. Your Navarrese guard is a pack of nonsense, and he has

sent far more skilful men than you into the darkness. It was just that

his time had come--and yours will come too.'

" 'Ay, and yours too!--if you're not a faithful /romi/ to me.'

" 'So be it,' said she. 'I've read in the coffee grounds, more than

once, that you and I were to end our lives together. Pshaw! what must

be, will be!' and she rattled her castanets, as was her way when she

wanted to drive away some worrying thought.

"One runs on when one is talking about one's self. I dare say all

these details bore you, but I shall soon be at the end of my story.

Our new life lasted for some considerable time. /El Dancaire/ and I

gathered a few comrades about us, who were more trustworthy than our

earlier ones, and we turned our attention to smuggling. Occasionally,

indeed, I must confess we stopped travellers on the highways, but

never unless we were at the last extremity, and could not avoid doing

so; and besides, we never ill-treated the travellers, and confined

ourselves to taking their money from them.

"For some months I was very well satisfied with Carmen. She still

served us in our smuggling operations, by giving us notice of any

opportunity of making a good haul. She remained either at Malaga, at

Cordova, or at Granada, but at a word from me she would leave

everything, and come to meet me at some /venta/ or even in our lonely

camp. Only once--it was at Malaga--she caused me some uneasiness. I

heard she had fixed her fancy upon a very rich merchant, with whom she

probably proposed to play her Gibraltar trick over again. In spite of

everything /El Dancaire/ said to stop me, I started off, walked into

Malaga in broad daylight, sought for Carmen and carried her off

instantly. We had a sharp altercation.

" 'Do you know,' said she, 'now that you're my /rom/ for good and all,

I don't care for you so much as when you were my /minchorro/! I won't

be worried, and above all, I won't be ordered about. I choose to be

free to do as I like. Take care you don't drive me too far; if you

tire me out, I'll find some good fellow who'll serve you just as you

served /El Tuerto/.'

"/El Dancaire/ patched it up between us; but we had said things to

each other that rankled in our hearts, and we were not as we had been

before. Shortly after that we had a misfortune: the soldiers caught

us, /El Dancaire/ and two of my comrades were killed; two others were

taken. I was sorely wounded, and, but for my good horse, I should have

fallen into the soldiers' hands. Half dead with fatigue, and with a

bullet in my body, I sought shelter in a wood, with my only remaining

comrade. When I got off my horse I fainted away, and I thought I was

going to die there in the brushwood, like a shot hare. My comrade

carried me to a cave he knew of, and then he sent to fetch Carmen.

"She was at Granada, and she hurried to me at once. For a whole

fortnight she never left me for a single instant. She never closed her

eyes; she nursed me with a skill and care such as no woman ever showed

to the man she loved most tenderly. As soon as I could stand on my

feet, she conveyed me with the utmost secrecy to Granada. These gipsy

women find safe shelter everywhere, and I spent more than six weeks in

a house only two doors from that of the /Corregidor/ who was trying to

arrest me. More than once I saw him pass by, from behind the shutter.

At last I recovered, but I had thought a great deal, on my bed of

pain, and I had planned to change my way of life. I suggested to

Carmen that we should leave Spain, and seek an honest livelihood in

the New World. She laughed in my face.

" 'We were not born to plant cabbages,' she cried. 'Our fate is to

live /payllos/! Listen: I've arranged a business with Nathan Ben-

Joseph at Gibraltar. He has cotton stuffs that he can not get through

till you come to fetch them. He knows you're alive, and reckons upon

you. What would our Gibraltar correspondents say if you failed them?'

"I let myself by persuaded, and took up my vile trade once more.

"While I was hiding at Granada there were bull-fights there, to which

Carmen went. When she came back she talked a great deal about a

skilful /picador/ of the name of Lucas. She knew the name of his

horse, and how much his embroidered jacket had cost him. I paid no

attention to this; but a few days later, Juanito, the only one of my

comrades who was left, told me he had seen Carmen with Lucas in a shop

in the Zacatin. Then I began to feel alarmed. I asked Carmen how and

why she had made the /picador's/ acquaintance.

" 'He's a man out of whom we may be able to get something,' said she.

'A noisy stream has either water in it or pebbles. He has earned

twelve hundred reals at the bull-fights. It must be one of two things:

we must either have his money, or else, as he is a good rider and a

plucky fellow, we can enroll him in our gang. We have lost such an one

an such an one; you'll have to replace them. Take this man with you!'

" 'I want neither his money nor himself,' I replied, 'and I forbid you

to speak to him.'

" 'Beware!' she retorted. 'If any one defies me to do a thing, it's

very quickly done.'

"Luckily the /picador/ departed to Malaga, and I set about passing in

the Jew's cotton stuffs. This expedition gave me a great deal to do,

and Carmen as well. I forgot Lucas, and perhaps she forgot him too--

for the moment, at all events. It was just about that time, sir, that

I met you, first at Montilla, and then afterward at Cordova. I won't

talk about that last interview. You know more about it, perhaps, than

I do. Carmen stole your watch from you, she wanted to have your money

besides, and especially that ring I see on your finger, and which she

declared to be a magic ring, the possession of which was very

important to her. We had a violent quarrel, and I struck her. She

turned pale and began to cry. It was the first time I had ever seen

her cry, and it affected me in the most painful manner. I begged her

to forgive me, but she sulked with me for a whole day, and when I

started back to Montilla she wouldn't kiss me. My heart was still very

sore, when, three days later, she joined me with a smiling face and as

merry as a lark. Everything was forgotten, and we were like a pair of

honeymoon lovers. Just as we were parting she said, 'There's a /fete/

at Cordova; I shall go and see it, and then I shall know what people

will be coming away with money, and I can warn you.'

"I let her go. When I was alone I thought about the /fete/, and about

the change in Carmen's temper. 'She must have avenged herself

already,' said I to myself, 'since she was the first to make our

quarrel up.' A peasant told me there was to be bull-fighting at

Cordova. Then my blood began to boil, and I went off like a madman

straight to the bull-ring. I had Lucas pointed out to me, and on the

bench, just beside the barrier, I recognised Carmen. One glance at her

was enough to turn my suspicion into certainty. When the first bull

appeared Lucas began, as I had expected to play the agreeable; he

snatched the cockade off the bull and presented it to Carmen, who put

it in her hair at once.*

*   /La divisa/. A knot of ribbon, the colour of which indicates the

    pasturage from which each bull comes. This knot of ribbon is

    fastened into the bull's hide with a sort of hook, and it is

    considered the very height of gallantry to snatch it off the

    living beast and present it to a woman.

"The bull avenged me. Lucas was knocked down, with his horse on his

chest, and the bull on top of both of them. I looked for Carmen, she

had disappeared from her place already. I couldn't get out of mine,

and I was obliged to wait until the bull-fight was over. Then I went

off to that house you already know, and waited there quietly all that

evening and part of the night. Toward two o'clock in the morning

Carmen came back, and was rather surprised to see me.

" 'Come with me,' said I.

" 'Very well,' said she, 'let's be off.'

"I went and got my horse, and took her up behind me, and we travelled

all the rest of the night without saying a word to each other. When

daylight came we stopped at a lonely inn, not far from a hermitage.

There I said to Carmen:

" 'Listen--I forget everything, I won't mention anything to you. But

swear one thing to me--that you'll come with me to America, and live

there quietly!'

" 'No,' said she, in a sulky voice, 'I won't go to America--I am very

well here.'

" 'That's because you're near Lucas. But be very sure that even if he

gets well now, he won't make old bones. And, indeed, why should I

quarrel with him? I'm tired of killing all your lovers; I'll kill you

this time.'

"She looked at me steadily with her wild eyes, and then she said:

" 'I've always thought you would kill me. The very first time I saw

you I had just met a priest at the door of my house. And to-night, as

we were going out of Cordova, didn't you see anything? A hare ran

across the road between your horse's feet. It is fate.'

" 'Carmencita,' I asked, 'don't you love me any more?'

"She gave me no answer, she was sitting cross-legged on a mat, making

marks on the ground with her finger.

" 'Let us change our life, Carmen,' said I imploringly. 'Let us go

away and live somewhere we shall never be parted. You know we have a

hundred and twenty gold ounces buried under an oak not far from here,

and then we have more money with Ben-Joseph the Jew.'

"She began to smile, and then she said, 'Me first, and then you. I

know it will happen like that.'

" 'Think about it,' said I. 'I've come to the end of my patience and

my courage. Make up your mind--or else I must make up mine.'

"I left her alone and walked toward the hermitage. I found the hermit

praying. I waited till his prayer was finished. I longed to pray

myself, but I couldn't. When he rose up from his knees I went to him.

" 'Father,' I said, 'will you pray for some one who is in great


" 'I pray for every one who is afflicted,' he replied.

" 'Can you say a mass for a soul which is perhaps about to go into the

presence of its Maker?'

" 'Yes,' he answered, looking hard at me.

"And as there was something strange about me, he tried to make me


" 'It seems to me that I have seen you somewhere,' said he.

"I laid a piastre on his bench.

" 'When shall you say the mass?' said I.

" 'In half an hour. The son of the innkeeper yonder is coming to serve

it. Tell me, young man, haven't you something on your conscience that

is tormenting you? Will you listen to a Christian's counsel?'

"I could hardly restrain my tears. I told him I would come back, and

hurried away. I went and lay down on the grass until I heard the bell.

Then I went back to the chapel, but I stayed outside it. When he had

said the mass, I went back to the /venta/. I was hoping Carmen would

have fled. She could have taken my horse and ridden away. But I found

her there still. She did not choose that any one should say I had

frightened her. While I had been away she had unfastened the hem of

her gown and taken out the lead that weighted it; and now she was

sitting before a table, looking into a bowl of water into which she

had just thrown the lead she had melted. She was so busy with her

spells that at first she didn't notice my return. Sometimes she would

take out a bit of lead and turn it round every way with a melancholy

look. Sometimes she would sing one of those magic songs, which invoke

the help of Maria Padella, Don Pedro's mistress, who is said to have

been the /Bari Crallisa/--the great gipsy queen.*

*   Maria Padella was accused of having bewitched Don Pedro. According

    to one popular tradition she presented Queen Blanche of Bourbon

    with a golden girdle which, in the eyes of the bewitched king,

    took on the appearance of a living snake. Hence the repugnance he

    always showed toward the unhappy princess.

" 'Carmen,' I said to her, 'will you come with me?' She rose, threw

away her wooden bowl, and put her mantilla over her head ready to

start. My horse was led up, she mounted behind me, and we rode away.

"After we had gone a little distance I said to her, 'So, my Carmen,

you are quite ready to follow me, isn't that so?'

"She answered, 'Yes, I'll follow you, even to death--but I won't live

with you any more.'

"We had reached a lonely gorge. I stopped my horse.

" 'Is this the place?' she said.

"And with a spring she reached the ground. She took off her mantilla

and threw it at her feet, and stood motionless, with one hand on her

hip, looking at me steadily.

" 'You mean to kill me, I see that well,' said she. 'It is fate. But

you'll never make me give in.'

"I said to her: 'Be rational, I implore you; listen to me. All the

past is forgotten. Yet you know it is you who have been my ruin--it is

because of you that I am a robber and a murderer. Carmen, my Carmen,

let me save you, and save myself with you.'

" 'Jose,' she answered, 'what you ask is impossible. I don't love you

any more. You love me still, and that is why you want to kill me. If I

liked, I might tell you some other lie, but I don't choose to give

myself the trouble. Everything is over between us two. You are my

/rom/, and you have the right to kill your /romi/, but Carmen will

always be free. A /calli/ she was born, and a /calli/ she'll die.'

" 'Then, you love Lucas?' I asked.

" 'Yes, I have loved him--as I loved you--for an instant--less than I

loved you, perhaps. But now I don't love anything, and I hate myself

for ever having loved you.'

"I cast myself at her feet, I seized her hands, I watered them with my

tears, I reminded her of all the happy moments we had spent together,

I offered to continue my brigand's life, if that would please her.

Everything, sir, everything--I offered her everything if she would

only love me again.

"She said:

" 'Love you again? That's not possible! Live with you? I will not do


"I was wild with fury. I drew my knife, I would have had her look

frightened, and sue for mercy--but that woman was a demon.

"I cried, 'For the last time I ask you. Will you stay with me?'

" 'No! no! no!' she said, and she stamped her foot.

"Then she pulled a ring I had given her off her finger, and cast it

into the brushwood.

"I struck her twice over--I had taken Garcia's knife, because I had

broken my own. At the second thrust she fell without a sound. It seems

to me that I can still see her great black eyes staring at me. Then

they grew dim and the lids closed.

"For a good hour I lay there prostrate beside her corpse. Then I

recollected that Carmen had often told me that she would like to lie

buried in a wood. I dug a grave for her with my knife and laid her in

it. I hunted about a long time for her ring, and I found it at last. I

put it into the grave beside her, with a little cross--perhaps I did

wrong. Then I got upon my horse, galloped to Cordova, and gave myself

up at the nearest guard-room. I told them I had killed Carmen, but I

would not tell them where her body was. That hermit was a holy man! He

prayed for her--he said a mass for her soul. Poor child! It's the

/calle/ who are to blame for having brought her up as they did."


Spain is one of the countries in which those nomads, scattered all

over Europe, and known as Bohemians, Gitanas, Gipsies, Ziegeuner, and

so forth, are now to be found in the greatest numbers. Most of these

people live, or rather wander hither and thither, in the southern and

eastern provinces of Spain, in Andalusia, and Estramadura, in the

kingdom of Murcia. There are a great many of them in Catalonia. These

last frequently cross over into France and are to be seen at all our

southern fairs. The men generally call themselves grooms, horse

doctors, mule-clippers; to these trades they add the mending of

saucepans and brass utensils, not to mention smuggling and other

illicit practices. The women tell fortunes, beg, and sell all sorts of

drugs, some of which are innocent, while some are not. The physical

characteristics of the gipsies are more easily distinguished then

described, and when you have known one, you should be able to

recognise a member of the race among a thousand other men. It is by

their physiognomy and expression, especially, that they differ from

the other inhabitants of the same country. Their complexion is

exceedingly swarthy, always darker than that of the race among whom

they live. Hence the name of /cale/ (blacks) which they frequently

apply to themselves.* Their eyes, set with a decided slant, are large,

very black, and shaded by long and heavy lashes. Their glance can only

be compared to that of a wild creature. It is full at once of boldness

and shyness, and in this respect their eyes are a fair indication of

their national character, which is cunning, bold, but with "the

natural fear of blows," like Panurge. Most of the men are strapping

fellows, slight and active. I don't think I ever saw a gipsy who had

grown fat. In Germany the gipsy women are often very pretty; but

beauty is very uncommon among the Spanish gitanas. When very young,

they may pass as being attractive in their ugliness, but once they

have reached motherhood, they become absolutely repulsive. The

filthiness of both sexes is incredible, and no one who has not seen a

gipsy matron's hair can form any conception of what it is, not even if

he conjures up the roughest, the greasiest, and the dustiest heads

imaginable. In some of the large Andalusian towns certain of the gipsy

girls, somewhat better looking than their fellows, will take more care

of their personal appearance. These go out and earn money by

performing dances strongly resembling those forbidden at our public

balls in carnival time. An English missionary, Mr. Borrow, the author

of two very interesting works on the Spanish gipsies, whom he

undertook to convert on behalf of the Bible Society, declares there is

no instance of any gitana showing the smallest weakness for a man not

belonging to her own race. The praise he bestows upon their chastity

strikes me as being exceedingly exaggerated. In the first place, the

great majority are in the position of the ugly woman described by

Ovid, "/Casta quam nemo rogavit/." As for the pretty ones, they are,

like all Spanish women, very fastidious in choosing their lovers.

Their fancy must be taken, and their favour must be earned. Mr. Borrow

quotes, in proof of their virtue, one trait which does honour to his

own, and especially to his simplicity: he declares that an immoral man

of his acquaintance offered several gold ounces to a pretty gitana,

and offered them in vain. An Andalusian, to whom I retailed this

anecdote, asserted that the immoral man in question would have been

far more successful if he had shown the girl two or three piastres,

and that to offer gold ounces to a gipsy was as poor a method of

persuasion as to promise a couple of millions to a tavern wench.

However that may be, it is certain that the gitana shows the most

extraordinary devotion to her husband. There is no danger and no

suffering she will not brave, to help him in his need. One of the

names which the gipsies apply to themselves, /Rome/, or "the married

couple," seems to me a proof of their racial respect for the married

state. Speaking generally, it may be asserted that their chief virtue

is their patriotism--if we may thus describe the fidelity they observe

in all their relations with persons of the same origin as their own,

their readiness to help one another, and the inviolable secrecy which

they keep for each other's benefit, in all compromising matters. And

indeed something of the same sort may be noticed in all mysterious

associations which are beyond the pale of the law.

*   It has struck me that the German gipsies, though they thoroughly

    understand the word /cale/, do not care to be called by that name.

    Among themselves they always use the designation /Romane tchave/.

Some months ago, I paid a visit to a gipsy tribe in the Vosges

country. In the hut of an old woman, the oldest member of the tribe, I

found a gipsy, in no way related to the family, who was sick of a

mortal disease. The man had left a hospital, where he was well cared

for, so that he might die among his own people. For thirteen weeks he

had been lying in bed in their encampment, and receiving far better

treatment than any of the sons and sons-in-law who shared his shelter.

He had a good bed made of straw and moss, and sheets that were

tolerably white, whereas all the rest of the family, which numbered

eleven persons, slept on planks three feet long. So much for their

hospitality. This very same woman, humane as was her treatment of her

guest said to me constantly before the sick man: "/Singo, singo, homte

hi mulo/." "Soon, soon he must die!" After all, these people live such

miserable lives, that a reference to the approach of death can have no

terrors for them.

One remarkable feature in the gipsy character is their indifference

about religion. Not that they are strong-minded or sceptical. They

have never made any profession of atheism. Far from that, indeed, the

religion of the country which they inhabit is always theirs; but they

change their religion when they change the country of their residence.

They are equally free from the superstitions which replace religious

feeling in the minds of the vulgar. How, indeed, can superstition

exist among a race which, as a rule, makes its livelihood out of the

credulity of others? Nevertheless, I have remarked a particular horror

of touching a corpse among the Spanish gipsies. Very few of these

could be induced to carry a dead man to his grave, even if they were

paid for it.

I have said that most gipsy women undertake to tell fortunes. They do

this very successfully. But they find a much greater source of profit

in the sale of charms and love-philters. Not only do they supply

toads' claws to hold fickle hearts, and powdered loadstone to kindle

love in cold ones, but if necessity arises, they can use mighty

incantations, which force the devil to lend them his aid. Last year

the following story was related to me by a Spanish lady. She was

walking one day along the /Calle d'Alcala/, feeling very sad and

anxious. A gipsy woman who was squatting on the pavement called out to

her, "My pretty lady, your lover has played you false!" (It was quite

true.) "Shall I get him back for you?" My readers will imagine with

what joy the proposal was accepted, and how complete was the

confidence inspired by a person who could thus guess the inmost

secrets of the heart. As it would have been impossible to proceed to

perform the operations of magic in the most crowded street in Madrid,

a meeting was arranged for the next day. "Nothing will be easier than

to bring back the faithless one to your feet!" said the gitana. "Do

you happen to have a handkerchief, a scarf, or a mantilla, that he

gave you?" A silken scarf was handed her. "Now sew a piastre into one

corner of the scarf with crimson silk--sew half a piastre into another

corner--sew a peseta here--and a two-real piece there; then, in the

middle you must sew a gold coin--a doubloon would be best." The

doubloon and all the other coins were duly sewn in. "Now give me the

scarf, and I'll take it to the Campo Santo when midnight strikes. You

come along with me, if you want to see a fine piece of witchcraft. I

promise you shall see the man you love to-morrow!" The gipsy departed

alone for the Campo Santo, since my Spanish friend was too much afraid

of witchcraft to go there with her. I leave my readers to guess

whether my poor forsaken lady ever saw her lover, or her scarf, again.

In spite of their poverty and the sort of aversion they inspire, the

gipsies are treated with a certain amount of consideration by the more

ignorant folk, and they are very proud of it. They feel themselves to

be a superior race as regards intelligence, and they heartily despise

the people whose hospitality they enjoy. "These Gentiles are so

stupid," said one of the Vosges gipsies to me, "that there is no

credit in taking them in. The other day a peasant woman called out to

me in the street. I went into her house. Her stove smoked and she

asked me to give her a charm to cure it. First of all I made her give

me a good bit of bacon, and then I began to mumble a few words in

/Romany/. 'You're a fool,' I said, 'you were born a fool, and you'll

die a fool!' When I had got near the door I said to her, in good

German, 'The most certain way of keeping your stove from smoking is

not to light any fire in it!' and then I took to my heels."

The history of the gipsies is still a problem. We know, indeed, that

their first bands, which were few and far between, appeared in Eastern

Europe towards the beginning of the fifteenth century. But nobody can

tell whence they started, or why they came to Europe, and, what is

still more extraordinary, no one knows how they multiplied, within a

short time, and in so prodigious a fashion, and in several countries,

all very remote from each other. The gipsies themselves have preserved

no tradition whatsoever as to their origin, and though most of them do

speak of Egypt as their original fatherland, that is only because they

have adopted a very ancient fable respecting their race.

Most of the Orientalists who have studied the gipsy language believe

that the cradle of the race was in India. It appears, in fact, that

many of the roots and grammatical forms of the /Romany/ tongue are to

be found in idioms derived from the Sanskrit. As may be imagined, the

gipsies, during their long wanderings, have adopted many foreign

words. In every /Romany/ dialect a number of Greek words appear.

At the present day the gipsies have almost as many dialects as there

are separate hordes of their race. Everywhere, they speak the language

of the country they inhabit more easily than their own idiom, which

they seldom use, except with the object of conversing freely before

strangers. A comparison of the dialect of the German gipsies with that

used by the Spanish gipsies, who have held no communication with each

other for several centuries, reveals the existence of a great number

of words common to both. But everywhere the original language is

notably affected, though in different degrees, by its contact with the

more cultivated languages into the use of which the nomads have been

forced. German in one case and Spanish in the other have so modified

the /Romany/ groundwork that it would not be possible for a gipsy from

the Black Forest to converse with one of his Andalusian brothers,

although a few sentences on each side would suffice to convince them

that each was speaking a dialect of the same language. Certain words

in very frequent use are, I believe, common to every dialect. Thus, in

every vocabulary which I have been able to consult, /pani/ means

water, /manro/ means bread, /mas/ stands for meat, and /lon/ for salt.

The nouns of number are almost the same in every case. The German

dialect seems to me much purer than the Spanish, for it has preserved

numbers of the primitive grammatical forms, whereas the Gitanos have

adopted those of the Castilian tongue. Nevertheless, some words are an

exception, as though to prove that the language was originally common

to all. The preterite of the German dialect is formed by adding /ium/

to the imperative, which is always the root of the verb. In the

Spanish /Romany/ the verbs are all conjugated on the model of the

first conjugation of the Castilian verbs. From /jamar/, the infinitive

of "to eat," the regular conjugation should be /jame/, "I have eaten."

From /lillar/, "to take," /lille/, "I have taken." Yet, some old

gipsies say, as an exception, /jayon/ and /lillon/. I am not

acquainted with any other verbs which have preserved this ancient


While I am thus showing off my small acquaintance with the /Romany/

language, I must notice a few words of French slang which our thieves

have borrowed from the gipsies. From /Les Mysteres de Paris/ honest

folk have learned that the word /chourin/ means "a knife." This is

pure /Romany/--/tchouri/ is one of the words which is common to every

dialect. Monsieur Vidocq calls a horse /gres/--this again is a gipsy

word--/gras/, /gre/, /graste/, and /gris/. Add to this the word

/romanichel/, by which the gipsies are described in Parisian slang.

This is a corruption of /romane tchave/--"gipsy lads." But a piece of

etymology of which I am really proud is that of the word /frimousse/,

"face," "countenance"--a word which every schoolboy uses, or did use,

in my time. Note, in the first place, the Oudin, in his curious

dictionary, published in 1640, wrote the word /firlimouse/. Now in

/Romany/, /firla/, or /fila/, stands for "face," and has the same

meaning--it is exactly the /os/ of the Latins. The combination of

/firlamui/ was instantly understood by a genuine gipsy, and I believe

it to be true to the spirit of the gipsy language.

I have surely said enough to give the readers of Carmen a favourable

idea of my /Romany/ studies. I will conclude with the following

proverb, which comes in very appropriately: /En retudi panda nasti

abela macha/. "Between closed lips no fly can pass."

End of The Project Gutenberg Etext of Carmen, by Prosper Merimee