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Author of " Gloria," etc. 






Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1883 

In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington 



S. Got 


THOSE who have read " Gloria " will, it is 
hoped, hail with pleasure another work by the 
same writer, Perez Galdos different it is true, 
but in its way not less delightful. 

The strongly- marked humor and darkly- 
painted tragedy of " Gloria " are not to be found 
in "Marianela;" the characters are distinct and 
crisply sketched, but with a tender hand, the 
catastrophe is pitiable, rather shocking; the whole 
tone is idyllic. 

I have not hesitated to translate literally the 
Spanish words of endearment ; for though they are 
foreign to the calmer spirit of our northern 
tongue they are too characteristic to be lost, and 
they are strangely pathetic as the only outlet 
found for the imprisoned spirit of the hapless 
little heroine. 




I. Gone Astray. - I 

II. Guided Right. IO 

III. A Dialogue which explains much. 24 

IV. Stony Hearts. 35 

V. Labor, and a Landscape with Figures. 52 

VI. Absurdities. 

VII. More Absurdities. 

VIII. And yet more. 

IX. The Brothers Golfin. 

X. Nobody's Children. 

XI. The Patriarch of Aldeacorba. 

XII. Doctor Celipin. 

XIII. Between two Baskets. 

XIV. How the Virgin Mary appeared to 

Nela. 151 

XV. The Three Children. 164 

XVI. The Vow. 172 

XVII. A Fugitive. 179 

XVIII. Nela decides that she must go. - 192 

XIX. Nela is Tamed. 201 

XX. A New World. - 220 

XXI. Eyes that Kill. 234* 

XXII. Farewell. - 260 




THE sun had set. After the brief interval of 
twilight the night fell calm and dark, and in its 
gloomy bosom the last sounds of a sleepy world 
died gently away The traveller went forward on 
his way, hastening his step as night came on ; the 
path he followed was narrow and worn by the con- 
stant tread of men and beasts, and led gently up 
a hill on whose verdant slopes grew picturesque 
clumps of wild cherry trees, beeches and oaks. 
The reader perceives that we are in the north of 

Our traveller was a man of middle age, strongly 
built, tall and broad-shouldered ; his movements 
were brisk and resolute, his step firm, his manner 
somewhat rugged, his eye bold and bright ; his 
pace was nimble, considering that he was de- 
cidedly stout, and he was the reader may at 
once be told, though somewhat prematurely as 


good a soul as you may meet with anywhere. 
He was dressed, as a man in easy circumstances 
should be dressed for a journey in spring weather, 
with one of those round shady hats, which, from 
their ugly shape, have been nicknamed mush- 
rooms (hongo), a pair of field-glasses hanging to 
a strap, and a knotted stick which, when he did 
not use it to support his steps, served to push 
aside the brambles when they flung their thorny 
branches across so as to catch his dress. 

He presently stopped, and gazing round the 
dim horizon, he seemed vexed and puzzled. He 
evidently was not sure of his way and was looking 
round for some passing native of the district who 
might give him such topographical information as 
might enable him to reach his destination. 

" I cannot be mistaken," he said to himself. 
" They told me to cross the river by the stepping- 
stones and I did so then to walk on, straight 
on. And there, to my right, I do in fact, see that 
detestable town which I should call Villafangosa 
by reason of the enormous amount of mud that 
chokes the streets. Well then, I can but go 'on, 
straight on' I rather like the phrase, and if I 
bore arms, I would adopt it for my motto in 
order to find myself at last at the famous mines of 


But before he had gone much farther, he added : 
" I have lost my way, beyond a doubt I have lost 
my way. This, Teodoro Golfin, is the result of 
your 'on, straight on.' Bah ! these blockheads do 
not know the meaning of words ; either they 
meant to laugh at you or else they did not know 
the way to the mines of Socartes. A huge min- 
ing establishment must be evident to the senses, 
with its buildings and chimneys, its noise of ham- 
mers and snorting of furnaces, neighing of horses 
and clattering of machinery and I neither see, 
nor hear, nor smell anything. I might be in a 
desert! How absolutely solitary ! If I believed 
in witches, I could fancy that Fate intended me 
this night to have the honor of making acquain- 
tance with some. Deuce take it ! why is there no 
one to be seen in these parts ? And it will be half 
an hour yet before the moon rises. Ah ! treacher- 
ous Luna, it is you who are to blame for my mis- 
adventure. If only I could see what sort of place 
I am in. However, what could I expect?" and 
he shrugged his shoulders with the air of a vigor- 
ous man who scorns danger. " What, Golfin, after 
having wandered all round the world are you go- 
ing to give in now ? The peasants were right after 
all: 'on, straight on.' The universal law of loco- 
motion cannot fail me here." 


And he bravely set out to test the law, and 
went on about a kilometre farther, following the 
paths which seemed to start from under his feet, 
crossing each other and breaking off at a short 
distance, in a thousand angles which puzzled and 
tired him. Stout as his resolution was, at last he 
grew weary of his vain efforts. The paths, which 
had at first all led upwards, began to slope down- 
wards as they crossed each other, and at last he 
came to so steep a slope that he could only hope 
to get to the bottom by rolling down it. 

" A pretty state of things !" he exclaimed, try- 
ing to console himself for this provoking situation 
by his sense of the ridiculous. " Where have you 
got to now my friend ? This is a perfect abyss. Is 
anything to be seen at the bottom. No, nothing, 
absolutely nothing the hill-side has disappeared, 
the earth has been dug away. There is nothing to 
be seen but stones and barren soil tinged red with 
iron. I have reached the mines, no doubt of that 
and yet there is not a living soul to be seen, no 
smoky chimneys ; no noise, not a train in the dis- 
tance, not even a dog barking. What am I to do? 
out there the path seems to slope up again. 
Shall I follow that? Shall I leave the beaten 
track ? Shall I go back again ? Oh ! this is ab- 
surd ! Either I am not myself or I will reach 


Socarte to-night, and be welcomed by my worthy 
Brother ! ' On, straight on.' ' 

He took a step, and his foot sank in the soft 
and crumbling soil. " What next, ye ruling 
stars ? Am I to be swallowed up alive ? If only 
that lazy moon would favor us with a little light 
we might see each other's faces and, upon my 
soul, I can hardly expect to find Paradise at the 
bottom of this hole. It seems to be the crater of 
some extinct volcano .... Nothing could be easier 
than a slide down this beautiful precipice. What 
have we here ? .... A stone ; capital a good 
seat while I smoke a cigar and wait for the moon 
to rise." 

The philosophical Golfin seated himself as 
calmly as if it were a bench by a promenade, 
and was preparing for his smoke, when he heard a 
voice yes, beyond a doubt, a human voice, at 
some little distance a plaintive air, or to speak 
more accurately, a melanchply^chant of a single 
phrase, of which the last cadence was prolonged 
into a " dying fall," and which at last sank into 
the silence of the night, so softly that the ear 
could not detect when it ceased. 

" Come," said the listener, well pleased, " there 
are some human beings about. That was a girl's 
voice ; yes, certainly a girl's, and a lovely voice 


too. I like the popular airs of this country-side. 
Now it has stopped. . . . Hark ! it will soon begin 
again. . . . Yes, I hear it once more. What a beau- 
tiful voice, and what a pathetic air ! You might 
believe that it rose front, the bowels of the earth, 
and that Senor Golfin, the most matter-of-fact and 
least superstitious man in this world, was going to 
make acquaintance with sylphs, nymphs, gnomes, 
dryads, and all the rabble rout that obey the mys- 
terious spirit of the place. But, if I am not mis- 
taken, the voice is going farther away the fair 
singer is departing .... Hi, girl, child, stop wait 
a minute !...." 

The voice which had for a few minutes so 
charmed the lost wanderer with its enchanting 
strains was dying away in the dark void, and at 
the shouts of Golfin it was suddenly silent. Be- 
yond a doubt the mysterious gnome, who was 
solacing its underground loneliness by singing its 
plaintive loves, had taken fright at this rough in- 
terruption by a human being, and fled to the 
deepest caverns of the earth, where precious gems 
lay hidden, jealous of their own splendor. 

"This is a pleasant state of things " mut- 
tered Golfin, thinking that after all he could do no 
better than light his cigar. " There seems no rea- 
son why it should. not go on for a hundred years. 


I can smoke and wait. It was a clever idea of 
mine that I could walk up alone to the mines of 
Socartes. My luggage will have got there before 
me a signal proof of the advantages of 'on, 
straight on.' ' 

A light breeze at this instant sprang up, and 
Golfin fancied he heard the sound of footsteps at 
the bottom of the unknown or imaginary 
abyss before him ; he listened sharply, and in a 
minute felt quite certain that some one was walk- 
ing below. He stood up and shouted : 

" Girl, man, or whoever you are, can I get to 
the mines of Socartes by this road ?" 

He had not done speaking when he heard a 
dog barking wildly, and then a manly voice say- 
ing : " Choto, Choto ! come here !" 

" Hi there !" cried the traveller. " My good 
friend man, boy, demon, or whatever you are, 
call back your dog, for I am a man of peace." 

" Choto, Choto ! " 

Golfin could make out the form of a large, 
black dog coming towards him, but after sniffing 
round him it retired at its master's call ; and at 
that moment the traveller could distinguish a fig- 
ure, a man, standing as immovable as a stone im- 
age, at about ten paces below him, on a slanting 
pathway which seemed to cut across the steep in- 


cline. This path, and the human form standing 
there, became quite clear now to Golfin, who, 
looking up to the sky, exclaimed : 

" Thank God ! here is the mad moon at last ; 
now we can see where we are. I had not the 
faintest notion that a path existed so close to me, 
why, it is quite a road. Tell me, my friend, do 
you know whether the mines of Socartes are 
hereabout ?" 

" Yes, Senor, these are the mines of Socartes ; 
but we are at some distance from the works." 

The voice which spoke thus was youthful and 
pleasant, with the attractive inflection that indi- 
cates a polite readiness to be of service. The 
doctor was well pleased at detecting this, and 
still better pleased at observing the soft light, 
which was spreading through the darkness and 
bringing resurrection to earth and sky, as though 
calling them forth from nothingness. 

" Fiat lux /" he said, going forward down the 
slope. " I feel as if I had just emerged into 
existence from primeval chaos .... Indeed, my 
good friend, I am truly grateful to you for the 
information you have given me, and for the far- 
ther information you no doubt will give me. I 
left Villamojada as the sun was setting. They 
told me to go on, straight on . ..." 


"Are you going to the works?" asked the 
strange youth, without stirring from the spot or 
looking up towards the doctor, who was now quite 
near him. 

"Yes, Senor; but I have certainly lost my 

" Well, this is not the entrance to the mines. 
The entrance is by the steps at Rabagones, from 
which the road runs and the tram-way that they 
are making. If you had gone that way you 
would have reached the works in ten minutes. 
From here it is a long way, and a very bad road. 
We are at the outer circle of the mining galleries, 
and shall have to go through passages and tun- 
nels, down ladders, through cuttings, up slopes, 
and then down the inclined plane ; in short, cross 
the mines from this side to the other, where the 
workshops are and the furnaces, the machines and 
the smelting-house." 

" Well, I seem to have been uncommonly stu- 
pid," said Golfin, laughing. 

" I will guide you with much pleasure, for I 
know every inch of the place." 

Golfin, whose feet sank in the loose earth, 
slipping here and tottering there, had at last 
reached the solid ground of the path, and his first 
idea was to look closely at the good-natured lad 


who addressed him. For a minute or two he was 
speechless with surprise. 

" You !" he said, in a low voice. 

" I am blind, it is true, Senor," said the boy. 
" But I can run without seeing from one end to 
the other of the mines of Socartes. This stick I 
carry prevents my stumbling, and Choto is always 
with me, when I have not got Nela with me, who 
is my guide. So, follow me, Senor, and allow me 
to guide you." 



" AND were you born blind ?" asked Golfin, 
with eager interest, arising not only from compas- 

"Yes, Senor, born blind," replied the lad, with 
perfect simplicity. " I only know the world by 
fancy, feeling and hearing. I have learned to un- 
derstand that the most wonderful portion of the 
universe is that which is unknown to me. I know 
that the eyes of other people are not like mine, 
since they are able to distinguish things by them 
but the power seems to me so extraordinary, 


that I cannot even imagine the possibility of its 

" Who knows " Golfin began. " But what 

strange scene is this, my friend ? What a won- 
derful place we are in !" 

The traveller, who had been walking by the 
side of his companion, stood still in astonishment 
at the weird view which lay before him. They 
were in a deep basin resembling the crater of a 
volcano; the ground at the bottom was broken 
and rough, and the sloping sides still more so. 
Round the margin and in the middle of the vast 
caldron, which looked even larger than it was in 
the deceptive chiaroscuro of the moonlit night, 
stood colossal figures, deformed caricatures of 
humanity, monsters lying prone with their feet in 
the air, with arms spread in despair, stunted 
growths, distorted faces such as we see in the 
whimsical wreathing of floating clouds but all 
still, silent, and turned to stone. In color they 
were mummy-like, a reddish bistre ; 'their action 
suggested the delirium of fever arrested by sud- 
den death. It was as though giant forms had 
petrified in the midst of some demoniacal orgy, 
and their gestures and the burlesque grimaces of 
the monstrous heads had been stricken into fixity, 
like the motionless attitudes of sculpture. The 


silence which prevailed in this volcanic-looking 
hollow was itself terrifying. One might fancy 
that the cries and shrieks of a thousand voices 
had been petrified too, and had been held there 
locked in stone for ages. 

" Where are we, my young friend ?" asked 
Golfin. " This place is like a nightmare." 

"This part of the mine is called La Terrible," 
replied the blind boy, not appreciating his com- 
panion's frame of mind. " It was worked till 
about two years ago when the ore was exhausted, 
and now the mining is carried on in other parts 
which are more profitable. The strange objects 
that surprise you so much are the blocks of stone 
which we call cretdcea, and which consist of 
hardened ferruginous clay, after the ore has been 
extracted. I have been told that the effect is 
sublime, particularly in the moonlight ; but I do 
not understand such things." 

" A wonderful effect, yes " said the stran- 
ger, who still stood gazing at the scene, " but 
which to me is more terrible than pleasing, for it 
reminds me of the horrors of neuralgia. Shall I 
tell you what it is like ? It is as if I were stand- 
ing inside a monstrous brain suffering from a fear- 
ful headache. Those figures are like the images 
which present themselves to the tortured brain, 


and become confounded with the hideous fancies 
and visions created by a fevered mind." 

" Choto, Choto, here !" called the blind lad. 
" Take care now, Senor, how you walk ; we are 
going into a gallery." And, in fact, Golfin saw 
that his guide, feeling with his stick, was making 
his way towards a narrow entrance distinguished 
by three stout posts. 

The dog went in first, snuffing at the black 
cavern; the blind boy followed him with the calm 
indifference of a man who dwells in perpetual 
darkness. Golfin followed, not without some in- 
stinctive trepidation and repugnance at an under- 
ground expedition. 

" It is really wonderful," he said, " that you 
should go in and out of such a place without 

" I have lived all my life in these places, and 
know them as well as my own home. Here it is 
very cold ; wrap yourself up if have you a cloak 
with you. We shall soon be out at the other 
end." He walked on, feeling his way with his 
hand along the wall, which was formed of upright 
beams, and saying: 

" Mind you do not stumble over the ruts in 
the path ; they bring the mineral along here from 
the diggings above. Are you cold ?" 


" Tell me," said the doctor, gaily. " Are you 
quite certain that the earth has not swallowed us 
up ? This passage is the gullet of some mon- 
strous insectivorous brute into whose stomach we 
miserable worms have inadvertently crept. Do 
you often take a walk in this delectable spot ?" 

" Yes, often, and at all hours, and I think the 
place delightful. Now we are in the most arid 
part the ground here is pure sand now we are 
on the stones again. Here there is a constant 
drip of sulphurous water, and down there we have 
a block of rock in which there are petrified shells. 
There are layers of slate over there. Do you hear 
that toad croaking? we are near the opening 
now ; the rascal sits there every night ; I know 
him quite well. He has a hoarse, slow voice." 

Who the toad ?" 

"Yes, Senor ; we are near the end now." 

" So I see ; it looks like an eye staring at us 
that is the mouth of the corridor." 

No sooner were they out in the air again, than 
the first thing that struck the doctor's ear was the 
same melancholy song as he had heard before. 
The blind boy heard it too ; he turned round to 
his companion and said, smiling with pride and 
pleasure : 

" Do you hear her ?" 


" I heard that voice before and it charmed me 
wonderfully. Who is the singer ?" 

Instead of answering, the blind boy stopped 
and shouted with all the force of his lungs : " Nela ! 
Nela !" and the name was repeated by a hundred 
echoes, some quite close, others faint and distant. 
Then, putting his hands to his mouth for a speak- 
ing-trumpet, he called out : 

" Do not come to me, I am going that way. 
Wait for me at the forge at the forge !" 

He turned to the doctor again and explained : 

" Nela is a girl who goes about with me ; she 
is my guide my Lazarillo. When it was dusk 
we were coming home together from the great 
meadow it was rather cool, so, as my father 
forbids my walking out at night without a cloak, 
I waited in Romolinos' cabin, and Nela ran home 
to fetch it for me. After staying some little time 
in the hut, I remembered that I had a friend com- 
ing to see me at home and I had not patience to 
wait for Nela, so I set out with Choto. I was just 
going down La Terrible when I met you. We 
shall soon be at the forge now and there we must 
part, for my father is not pleased when I go home 
late, and Nela will show you the way to the 

" Many thanks, my little friend." 


The tunnel had brought them out at a spot 
even more wonderful than that they had left. It 
was an enormous gulf or chasm in the earth, look- 
ing like the result of an earthquake ; but it had 
not been rent by the fierce throbs of planetary fires, 
but slowly wrought by the laborious pick of the 
miner. It looked like the interior of a huge ship- 
wrecked vessel, stranded on the shore, and broken 
across the waist by the breakers, so as to bend it 
at an obtuse angle. You could fancy you saw its 
ribs laid bare, and their ends standing up in an 
irregular file on one side. Within the hollow hull 
lay huge stones, like the relics of a cargo tossed 
about by the waves, and the deceptive light of the 
moon lent so much aid to the fancy that Golfin 
could have believed that he saw among the relics 
of a ship's fittings, corpses half devoured by fishes, 
mummies, skeletons all dead, silent, half-de- 
stroyed and still, as if they had long been lying in 
the infinite sepulchre of the ocean And the illu- 
sion was perfect when he presently heard a sound 
of waters, and a regular splash like the dash of 
ripples in the hollow of a rock, or through the 
skeleton timbers of a wrecked vessel. 

"There is water hereabouts," he said to his 

"The noise you hear," replied the other, 


stopping, " and which sounds like what shall I 
say like the gurgle you make when you gargle 
your throat ?...." 

" Exactly and where is that gurgle ? Is it 
some rivulet that runs near here ?" 

" No, Senor ; over there to the left there is a 
slope, and beyond it a wide mouth opens in the 
ground, a cavern, an abyss without any known 
bottom. La Trascava they call it. Some say 
that it runs down to the sea at Ficobriga, and 
others think that a river flows at the bottom of it 
which goes round and round, like a wheel, and 
never comes out anywhere. I fancy it must be 
like a whirlpool. Some again say that down 
there is a constant gust of air coming out of the 
interior of the earth as we blow when we whistle 
and that this blast meets a current of water; 
then they quarrel, and struggle, and fight, and pro- 
duce that noise that we hear up here." 

" And has no one ever been down into this 
cavern ?" 

" It can only be got into in one way." 

" How ?" 

" By jumping into it. Those who have gone 
in have never come out again ; and it is a great 
pity, for they might have told us what goes on in 
there. The other end of the cavern is a long way 


off from this, for two years ago, when some miners 
were working they came upon a rift in the rock 
where they heard the very same sound of water 
as you hear now. This rift must, no doubt, com- 
municate with the inside galleries, out of which 
the blast blows and into which the water rushes. 
By daylight you can see it plainly, for you need 
only go a few steps to the left to reach the spot 
and there is a comfortable seat there. Some 
people are frightened to go there, but Nela and I 
sit there to listen to the voice down inside the 
cavern for really, Sefior, we can fancy we hear 
it talking. Nela declares and swears that she 
hears words, and can distinguish them quite plainly. 
I must confess I never heard any words ; but it 
goes on murmuring like a soliloquy or a medita- 
tion, and sometimes it is sad and sometimes gay 
sometimes angry, and sometimes good-hu- 
mored and jolly." 

" And yet I can make nothing of it but a 
gurgle," said the doctor laughing. 

" It sounds so from this spot. But we must 
not stop now, it is getting late. You must be 
prepared to go through another gallery." 

" Another ?" 

" Yes and this one branches off into two in 
the middle. Beyond that there is a labyrinth of 


turns and zigzags, because the miners have to 
make galleries which, when they are worked out, 
are deserted and left to their fate. Go on Choto." 

Choto slipped into a little opening that looked 
scarcely bigger than a rabbit-hole, followed by the 
doctor and his guide, who felt his way along the 
dark, narrow, crooked passage with his stick. 
There could be no better evidence of the delicacy 
and subtlety of the sense of touch, extending be- 
yond the skin of a human hand through a piece 
of senseless wood. They went forwards, at first 
in a curve, and then round corner after corner, and 
all the way between walls of damp, and half-rot- 
ten planking. 

" Do you know what this reminds me of?" said 
the doctor, perceiving that his guide took pleasure 
in similes and comparisons. " Of nothing so much 
as the thoughts of perverse man. We represent 
the consciousness of evil, when he looks into his 
conscience and sees himself in all his vileness." 

Golfin fancied that he had used a metaphor 
rather above his companion's comprehension; but 
the blind boy proved that he was mistaken, for he 
said at once : 

" For those to whom that inner world looks 
dark and gloomy, these galleries must be dismal 
indeed ; but I, who live in perpetual darkness, find 


here something which has an affinity with my own 
nature. I can walk here as you would in the 
broadest road. If it were not for the want of air 
in some parts and the excessive damp in others, I 
should prefer these subterranean passages to any 
place I know." 

"That is an idea of brooding fancy." 

" I feel as if there were in my brain a narrow 
passage a rabbit-hole like this that we are 
walking in, and there my ideas run riot grandly." 

" Ah ! what a pity that you should never have 
seen the azure vault of the sky at mid-day !" the 
doctor exclaimed involuntarily. "Tell me, does 
this dark hole in which your ideas run riot so 
grandly lead out anywhere?" 

" Oh yes ! we shall be outside quite soon now. 
The vault of the sky you said I fancy it must be 
a perfect, equal curve, which looks as if we could 
touch it with our hands, but we cannot really." 

As he spoke they got out of the tunnel ; Gol- 
fin drawing a deep breath of relief, like a man 
who has cast off a burthen, exclaimed as ha looked 
up at the heavens : 

"Thank God that I see you once more stars 
of the firmament. Never have you seemed to me 
more beautiful than at this moment." 

" As I was going along," said the blind boy, 


holding out his hand which held a stone, " I picked 
up this piece of crystal now do you mean to 
say that these crystals, which to my touch are so 
sharply cut, so smooth and so neatly packed side 
by side, are not a very beautiful thing ? They 
seem so to me at any rate." And as he spoke he 
broke off some of the crystals. 

" My dear fellow," said the doctor with great 
feeling and compassion, " it is sad indeed that you 
should not be able to know that this stone is hardly 
worth looking at, while over our heads there hang 
the myriads of marvellous lamps that sparkle in 
the heavens." The boy threw back his head and 
said in a voice of deep regret : 

" Is it true that you are there, you little 
stars ?" 

" God is infinitely great and merciful," said 
Golfin, laying his hand on his young companion's 
shoulder. "Who knows who can say much 
stranger things have happened are happening 
every day." As he spoke, he looked close into 
his face, trying to see the lad's eyes by the 
dim light; fixed and sightless, he turned them 
in the direction in which he heard the speaker's 

" There is no hope," Golfin muttered. 

They had come out on an open space. The 


moon, rising higher and higher, illuminated un- 
dulating meadows and high slopes, which looked 
like the ramparts of some immense fortification. 
To the left, on a level plateau, the doctor saw 
a group of white houses crowning the slope. 

" There, to the left," said the boy, " is my 
home up at the top. Do you know that those 
three houses are what remain of the village of 
Aldeacorba de Suso. All the rest has been pulled 
down at different times in order to dig mines; 
all the soil underneath is iron ore, and our fore- 
fathers lived over millions of wealth without 
knowing it." 

He was still speaking when a girl came run- 
ning to meet them, a tiny scrap of a child, swift 
of foot and slightly built. 

" Nela, Nela !" cried the blind boy. " Have 
you brought me a cloak ?" 

" Here it is," said the girl, putting it over his 

" Is this the songstress ? Do you know you 
have a lovely voice ?" 

" Oh !" exclaimed the boy, in a tone of inno- 
cent admiration, " she sings beautifully ! Now, 
Mariquilla, you must show this gentleman the way 
to the works, and I must go home. I can hear 
my father's voice already; he is coming to look 


for me, and he will be sure to scold me .... I am 
here, I am coming !" 

" Make haste in, my boy !" said Golfin, shak- 
ing hands with him. " The air is fresh, and you 
might take cold. Many thanks for your company. 
I hope we may be good friends, for I shall be here 
some little time. I am the brother of Carlos Gol- 
fin, the engineer of the mines." 

" Oh ! indeed .... Don Carlos is a great friend 
of my father's. He has been expecting you these 
two days." 

" I arrived this evening at the station at Villa- 
mojada, and they told me that Socartes was not 
far, and that I could come up on foot. So, as I 
like to see the country and get exercise, and as 
they told me it was ' on, straight on,' I set out, 
and sent my luggage in a cart. You saw how I 
had lost my way but there is no evil out of 
which good does not come .... I have made your 
acquaintance, and we shall be friends, very good 
friends perhaps. Go in, good-bye; get home 
quickly, for the autumn evenings are not good for 
you. The little Senora here will be so good as to 
guide me." 

" It is not more than a quarter of an hour's 
walk to the works, quite a short way. But take 
care not to stumble over the rails, and look out 


as you cross the inclined plane. There often are 
trucks on the road, and in this damp weather the 
ground is like soap. Good-bye, Caballero, and 
my very good friend. Good-night" He went 
up the slope by a narrow flight of steps cut in the 
soil and squared by beams of wood ; Golfin went 
straight on, guided by Nela. Does what they 
said deserve a separate chapter ? In case it 
should, I will give it one. 



"WAIT a moment my child, do not go so 

fast," said Golfin, himself standing still. " I want 


to light a cigar. 

The night was so still, that no precautions were 
needed in striking the light to guard it from the 
wind, and when the doctor had lighted his cigar 
he held the wax match in front of Nela, saying 
kindly : 

"Show me your face, little one." 

He looked in the child's face with astonish- 
ment ; her black eyes shone with a red spot, like 
a spark, for the instant while the match lasted. She 
looked a child, for she was but a tiny creature, ex- 


tremely thin and undeveloped ; but she seemed 
like a little woman, for her eyes had not a childlike 
expression, and her face had the mature look of a 
nature which has gone through experience and 
acquired judgment or will have acquired it soon. 
In spite of this anomaly, she was well-proportioned 
and her small head sat gracefully on her lean little 
body. You might have said she was a woman 
seen through a diminishing-glass ; or, again, that 
she was a child with the eyes and expression of a 
grown-up person. In your uncertainty, it was hard 
to say whether she was astonishingly forward or 
lamentably backward. 

" How old are you ?" asked Golfin, shaking his 
ringers free of the match which was beginning to 
burn them. 

"They say I am sixteen," said Nela, gazing in 
her turn at the doctor. 

" Sixteen !" exclaimed Golfin. " Much less 
than that, child ! You are twelve at most to judge 
by appearances." 

" Holy Virgin ! They say I am quite a phe- 
nomenon," said the girl in a tone of weariness of 
the subject. 

"A phenomenon!" repeated Golfin laying his 
hand on her hair. " Well, perhaps so. Now, 
come along show me the way." 


Nela set out resolutely, keeping but a little way 
in front of the traveller but rather on one side 
of him, to show her just appreciation of such illus- 
trious company. Her nimble little feet, which were 
bare, were evidently familiar with the ground they 
trod, with the stones, the puddles and the thistles. 
She wore a plain frock of scanty breadth, and the 
rudimentary simplicity of her garb, as well as the 
loose flow of her thick, short hair, which fell in 
natural waves, had a stamp of savage indepen- 
dence rather than of abject poverty. Her speech, 
on the other hand, struck Golfin by its modest 
propriety,, indicating a formed and thoughtful 
mind. Her voice had a gentle inflection of kind- 
liness, which could not be the result of education, 
and her glance was restless and shy, whenever she 
was not looking at the sky or the earth. 

"Tell me," said Golfin. "Do you live in the 
mines ? Are you the child of any of the work- 
men employed here ?" 

"They say I have neither father nor mother." 
"Poor little girl! and you work in the mines?" 
" No, Senor. I am of no use at all," she re- 
plied without raising her eyes. 

" Well, you are modest, at any rate." 
The doctor bent down to look closely at her 
face ; it was small and freckled all over with little 


mole-like spots. Her forehead was narrow, her 
nose sharp but not ill-shaped, her eyes black and 
brilliant, but their light shone but sadly. Her hair, 
naturally of a golden brown, was dull for want of 
care, and from exposure to the sun, wind and 
dust. Her lips were so thin as to be hardly visible, 
and always wore a smile, but it was like the faint 
smile of the dead who have died dreaming of 
Heaven. Nela's mouth was, strictly speaking, 
ugly, still it deserved a word of praise from the 
point of view expressed in the line from Polo de- 
Medina : " A mouth is sweet that asks for noth- 
ing."* In fact, neither in word, look, or smile, did 
the poor child betray any of the degrading habits of 
the beggar. Golfin stroked the sad little face, hold- 
ing it under the chin and almost encircling it with 
his big fingers. 

" Poor little body !" he said. " Providence has 
not been over-generous to you. Who do you live 
with ?" 

"With Senor Centeno, the overseer of the 
beasts belonging to the mines ?" 

"You do not seem to have been born in 
luxury. Who were your parents?" 

"They say my mother sold peppers in the 
market at Villamojada. She was not married. 

* " Es tan linda su boca que no pide." 


She had me one All-Saints' day, and then she 
went to be wet-nurse at Madrid." 

" A highly estimable woman !" muttered Gol- 
fin ironically. 

" And no one knows who your father was ?" 

"Yes, Sefior," said Nela with some pride. 
" My father was the first who ever lighted the 
lamps of Villamojada." 


"I ought to tell you," said the little girl with 
the gravity befitting the dignity of history, " that 
when the town council first had lamps hung 
up in the streets, my father was entrusted with the 
care of lighting and cleaning them. I was nursed 
by a sister of my mother's not that she was 
married either, as they tell me. My father had 
quarrelled with her they all lived together as I 
have heard and when he went out to light the 
lamps he used to put me in his basket, with his 
lamp-chimneys and cottons and oil. One day 
when he went up to light the lamp on the bridge, 
he put the basket on the parapet, and I rolled out 
and fell into the river." 

" And you were not drowned !" 

" No, Senor ; for I fell on the stones. Holy 
Mother of God ! I was a dear little thing before 
that, they tell me." 


"Yes, I am sure you were," said the stranger 
with an impulse of loving-kindness. " And so you 
are still. But tell me what next. Have you lived 
long in the mines ?" 

" Thirteen years, they say. My motfrer took 
me back after my tumble. My father fell ill, and 
as my mother would not do anything for him, be- 
cause he was wicked to her, he was taken to the 
hospital where they say he died. Meanwhile my 
mother came to work in the mines. They say 
the overseer discharged her one day because she 
drank so much." 

" And your mother went .... Go on, I take a 
real interest in the good woman ; she went. ..." 

" She went to a very big hole over there," said 
the child, standing still and speaking with intense 
pathos, " and she threw herself in." 

" The devil she did ! That was coming to a 
bad end. I suppose she did not come out again ?" 

" No, Senor," said Nela with perfect simplicity. 
" She is there still." 

" And since that catastrophe, poor child," said 
Golfin kindly, " you have stayed at work here. 
Mining work is very hard labor and you have 
taken the hue of the soil ; you are thin and ill- 
nourished. This life is enough to ruin the strong- 
est constitution." 


" No, Senor ; I do not labor. They say I am 
not good for anything and never shall be." 

" God forbid, silly child ! why you are a 

" N<5 indeed," insisted the girl, " I cannot work 
at all. If I take up ever so small a load, I fall 
down, and if I am set to any hard work I faint 
away before long." 

"You are as God made you and if you fell 
into the hands of any one who knew how to treat 
you, you would work very well." 

" No, Sefior, no indeed," she repeated as en- 
ergetically as though it were in her own praise 
that she spoke, " I am no good to any one only 
in the way." 

" Then you are a mere vagabond ?" 

" No, Senor, for I attend on Pablo." 

" And who is Pablo ?" 

" That young blind gentleman, whom you met 
in La Terrible. I have been his guide for the last 
year and a half. I take him everywhere ; we go 
for long walks in the fields." 

" He seems a good fellow, this Pablo." 

Nela again stood still and looked up at the 
doctor, and her face glowed with enthusiasm as 
she exclaimed : 

" Holy Virgin ! He is the best and dearest 


creature in the whole world ! Poor fellow! and 
he is cleverer without eyes than all those who can 

" Yes, I liked your master. Does he belong 
to the place ?" 

" Yes, Senor ; he is the only son of Don 
Francisco Penaguilas, a very kind and very rich 
gentleman who lives in the houses at Aldea- 

" Tell me, why are you called Nela ? What 
does it mean ?" 

The child shrugged her shoulders, and after a 
pause, she said : 

" My mother's name was Maria Canela, and 
so she was called Nela; they say it is a dog's 
name. My name is Maria." 


" Maria Nela they call me, or sometimes Ca- 
nela's girl, and some say Marianela, and some 
merely Nela." 

" And your master, is he fond of you ?" 

" Yes, Senor ; he is very good to me. He 
says he sees with my eyes, for I take him every- 
where, and tell him what everything is like." 

' Everything that he cannot see ?" The 
stranger seemed much interested in this conver- 


" Yes I tell him everything. He asks me 
what a star is like, and I tell him all about it in 
such a way that it is the same to him as if he 
could see it. I explain it all what the planets 
are like, and the clouds, and the sky, and the 
water, and the lightning, the weather- cocks, the 
butterflies, the mists, the snails, and the shapes 
and faces of men and animals. I tell him what is 
ugly and what is pretty, and so he gets to under- 
stand everything." 

" I see ; your work is no trifle. What is ugly 
and what is pretty ! There is nothing .... You 
decide upon that question ? Tell me, can you 
read ?" 

"No, Senor. I tell you I am good for noth- 


She said this in a tone of perfect conviction, 
and the gesture that emphasized her protestation 
seemed to add : " You must be a great blockhead 
to fancy that I am good for anything." 

" Would you not be glad if your friend, by 
the grace of God, should recover his sight ?" 

The girl did not answer at once, but after a 
pause she said : 

" It is impossible." 

" No, not impossible, only difficult and doubt- 


/ " The engineer who manages the mines did 
give my master's father some hope of it." 

" Don Carlos Golfin ?" 

" Yes, Senor. Don Carlos has a brother who 
is an eye- doctor, and they say he gives sight to 
the blind, and makes those who squint look 

" What a clever man !" 

" Yes ; and when the eye-doctor wrote to Don 
Carlos that he was coming to see him, his brother 
wrote to him to bring his instruments with him to 
try if he could make Pablo see." 

" And has this good man been here yet ?" 

" No, sir ; for he is always travelling about in 
England and America, and it seems it will be 
some time yet -before he comes. Pablo laughs 
at it all, and says no man can give him what 
the Holy Virgin has denied him from his 

"Well perhaps he is right. But are we not 
nearly there ? For I see some chimneys which 
pour forth smoke darker than the bottomless pit, 
and a light too, which looks like a forge." 

" Yes here we are. Those are the roasting 
furnaces, which burn day and night. There, in 
front, are the machines for washing the ore ; they 
only work by day. To the right-hand is the 


chemical workshop, and down there, last of all, 
the counting-house and offices." 

The place seemed to lie in fact as Marianela 
indicated. In the absence of any wind a mist 
hung over the spot, shrouding the buildings in 
heavy, gaseous fog, and giving them a confused 
and fantastic outline against the moonlit sky. 

" This is a pleasanter place to see for once 
than to live in," said Golfin, hastening onwards. 
" The cloud of vapor wraps round everything, and 
the lights have dim circles round them, like the 
moon on a sultry night. Which is the office ?" 

" Here, we are almost there." 

After passing in front of the furnaces, where 
the heat made them hurry on, the doctor per- 
ceived a house which was no less dingy and 
smoky than the others, and at the same instant he 
heard a piano being played with a vigor border- 
ing on frenzy. 

" We have music here. I recognize my sister- 
in-law's touch and execution." 

" It is Senorita Sofia who is playing," said 

The lights of a busy household shone in the 
windows, and the balcony on the ground-floor 
was wide open. A small spark was visible, the 
spark of a cigar. Before the doctor could reach 



the spot, the spark flew off, describing a parabola 
of fire, and breaking into a thousand twinkling 
specks the smoker had shaken the end off. 

"There is that everlasting smoker!" cried the 
doctor, in a tone of affectionate delight. " Carlos, 
Carlos !" 

" Teodoro !" exclaimed a voice from the bal- 
cony. The piano ceased like a singing-bird scared 
by a noise. Steps sounded through the house. 
The doctor gave his guide a silver coin, and ran 
up to the door. 



RETRACING her steps and jumping over the 
obstacles in her path, Nela made her way to a 
house on the left of the machine-sheds, and close 
to the stables where the sixty mules belonging to 
the establishment stood in grave meditation. The 
residence of the overseer, though of modern con- 
struction, was neither elegant nor even commodi- 
ous. The roof was low, and it was too small by 
far to give adequate shelter to the parent couple 
of the Centenos to their four children to their 
cat and to Nela into the bargain ; but it figured, 


nevertheless, on the parchment plans of the settle- 
ment under the ostentatious name of " overseer's 

Inside, the house seemed to afford a practical 
illustration of the saying which we have already 
heard so emphatically stated by Marianela ; 
namely, that she, Marianela, was of no good to 
anyone, only in the way. Somehow, in there, 
room was found for everything for the father 
and mother, for their sons and their sons' tools, 
for a heap of rubbish, of the use of which no irref- 
ragable proof has been found, for the cat, for the 
dish off which the cat was fed, for Tanasio's 
guitar, for the materials of which Tanasio made 
his garrotes a kind of lidless hamper for half 
a dozen old mule-halters, for the blackbird's cage, 
for two useless old boilers, for an altar at which 
Dame Centeno worshipped the Divinity with offer- 
ings of artificial flowers and some patriarchal ta- 
pers, a perennial settlement for flies in short, for 
everything and everybody excepting little Maria 
Canela. Constantly some one was heard to say : 
" You cannot take a step without falling over that 
confounded child, Nela I" or else : 

" Get into your corner, do. What a plague 
the creature is ; she does nothing, and lets no one 
else do anything." 


The house consisted of three rooms and a loft. 
The first of these served not only as dining-room 
and drawing-room, but also as the bedroom of 
the two elders ; in the second slept the two young 
ladies, already grown-up women, and named La 
Mariuca and La Pepina. Tanasio, the eldest of 
all, stored himself in the garret, and Celipin, the 
youngest of the family and nearly twelve years 
old, had a bed in the kitchen the innermost 
room, the dingiest, dampest and least habitable 
of the three rooms which composed the mansion 
of the Centenos. 

Nela, during the many years of her residence 
there, had inhabited various nooks and corners, 
going from one to another, according to the exi- 
gencies of the moment, to make way for the thou- 
sand objects which served only to curtail the last 
scanty accommodation left for human beings. On 
some occasion the precise facts are unknown to 
history Tanasio, whose feet were as crippled as 
his brain, and who devoted himself to the manu- 
facture of large hampers made of hazel rods, had 
placed in the kitchen a pile of at least half a dozen 
of these bulky trophies of his art Marianela 
looked on, casting her eyes sadly around, and 
rinding no corner left into which to creep ; but 
the predicament itself inspired her with a happy 


idea, which she at once acted upon. She simply 
got into one of the baskets, and there passed the 
night in sound and blissful sleep. In fact, it was 
comfortable enough, and when it was cold she 
pulled another basket on the top. From that time, 
so long as there were garrotcs (a local name for 
these coarse, open baskets) to be found, she never 
was at a loss for a crib, and the others would say 
of the child : " She sleeps like a jewel." 

During meals, in the midst of a noisy discus- 
sion on the morning's work, a voice would sud- 
denly say in rough tones : " Here !" and Nela 
would have a plate given her by one of the family, 
big or small, and would seat herself against the big 
chest to eat what she had got, in silence. But tow- 
ards the end of the meal sometimes the master's 
harsh bleating voice would be lifted up saying, 
with a perfunctory air of benevolence : " Mothe* ', 
you have given poor Nela nothing." And then 
Senana, a compound name abbreviated from 
Senora Ana, would move her head about as if try- 
ing to see some minute and remote object be- 
tween the bodies of her own children, saying as 
she did so : " What, are you there ? I thought 
you had stayed at Aldeacorba." 

At night, after supper, the family repeated the 
Paternoster over, their beads and then, staggering 


like bacchantes, and rubbing their eyes with their 
fists, Mariuca and Pepina went to their beds, 
which were snug and comfortable and covered 
with patchwork quilts. In a few minutes a duet 
of contralto snoring was heard which lasted with- 
out intermission till morning dawned. Tanasio 
went up to the higher regions and Celipin curled 
himself round on a heap of rags, not far from the 
basket into which Nela disappeared from sight. 

The family thus being disposed of, the parents 
sat up for a while in the living-room, and while 
Centeno, seating himself with a stretch close to 
the little table and taking up a newspaper, made a 
series of grimaces to convey his bold intention of 
reading it, his wife took a stocking full of money 
out of the family chest, and after counting it and 
adding or taking out a few pieces, carefully re- 
stored it to its place. Then she took out sundry 
paper packets containing gold pieces and transfer- 
red some from one parcel to another. Meanwhile 
such remarks as these were made. " Mariuca's 
petticoat cost thirty-two reales. I gave Tanasio 
the six reales he had to pay. We only want eleven 
duros* to make up the five hundred." 

Or, on the other hand : 

* A Spanish silver coin, equal in value to the U. S. dollar. 


"The deputies agreed." "Yesterday a con- 
ference was held, etc. ..." 

Senana's fingers did her sums, while her hus- 
band's forefinger passed doubtfully and waver- 
ingly along the lines, to guide his eye and mind 
through the labyrinth of letters. And these sen- 
tences gradually died away into monosyllables ; 
one yawned, then the other, and at last all sunk 
into silence, after extinguishing the lamp by which 
the overseer of the^mules had been cultivating his 

One night, when all was quiet, a creaking of 
baskets became audible in the kitchen. It was 
not perfectly dark there, for the shutters of the 
little window were never shut, and Celipin Cen- 
teno, who was not yet asleep, saw the topmost 
baskets, which were packed one inside the other, 
rising slowly like a gaping oyster-shell, and out 
of the opening peeped the nose and black eyes of 

" Celipin," she said, " Celipinillo, are you 
asleep ?" and she put a hand out. 

" No, I am awake ; Nela, you look like a mus- 
sel in its shell. What do you want ?" 

" Here, take this, it is a peseta* that a gentle- 
man gave me this evening the brother of Don 

* A silver coin containing two reales. 


Carlos. How much have you got now ? This 
is something like a present ; now I have given 
you something better than coppers !" 

" Give it here and thank you very much, 
Nela," said the boy, sitting up to reach the money. 
"You have given me nearly thirty-two reales 
now, a copper at a time.* I have it all safe here, 
inside my shirt, in the little bag you gave me. 
You are a real good girl." 

" I do not want money for anything ; but 
take good care of it, for if Senana were to find it, 
she would think you would get into some mischief 
xvith it and thrash you with the big stick." 

" No, no, it is not to get into mischief," said 
the boy vehemently, and clenching the money to 
his breast with one hand, while he supported him- 
self on the other. " It is to make myself a rich 
man, Nela, a clever man like some I know. On 
Sunday, if they will let me go to Villamojada, I 
must buy a spelling-book to learn to read, although 
they will not teach me here. Who cares ! I will 
learn by myself. Do you know, Nela, they say 
that Don Carlos is the son of a man who swept 
the streets in Madrid, and he, all by himself, learnt 
everything he knows." 

* The copper piece is a cttarto. A real contains 34 maravedis 
and is worth about the same as the U. S. dime. The smallest Spanish 
coin is the maravedi. Four maravedis make a cuarto. 


" And so you think you can do the same, 

" I believe you ! If father will not take me 
away from these confounded mines, I will find 
some other way ; ah ! you shall see what sort of 
a man I am. I was never meant for that Nela. 
You just wait till I have collected a good sum, and 
then you will see you will see how I will find a 
place in the town there, or take the train to 
Madrid, or a steamboat to carry me over to the 
islands out there, or get a place as a servant to 
some one who will let me study." 

" Dear Mother of Heaven !" exclaimed Nela, 
opening her oyster-shell still wider and putting 
out her whole head. " How quiet you have kept 
all these sly plans." 

" Do you take me for a fool ? I tell you what 
Nela, I am in a mad rage. I cannot live like this; 
I shall die in the mines. Drat it all ! Why, I 
spend my nights in crying, and my hands are all 
knocked to pieces and but do not be frightened, 
Nela, at what I am going to say, and do not think 
me wicked I would not say it to any other living 
soul. ..." 

" Well ?" 

"I do not love father and mother not as I 


" Oh ! if you say such things I will never give 
you another real. Celipin, for God's sake, think 
of what you are saying." 

" I cannot help it. Why, just look how we 
go on here. We are not human beings, we are 
brutes. Sometimes I almost "think we are less 
than the mules, and I ask myself if I am in any way 
better than a donkey fetching a basket of the 
ore and pitching it into a truck ; shoving the 
truck up to the furnaces ; stirring the mineral 
with a stick to wash it ! Oh dear, oh dear !" . . . 
and the hapless boy began to sob bitterly. " Drat 
drat it all ! but if you spend years upon years 
in work like this, you are bound to go to the 
bad at last, your very brains turn to iron-stone. 
No, I was never meant for this. I tell my father 
to let me go away and learn something, and he 
answers that we are poor, and that I am too full of 
fancies. We are nothing, nothing but brutes 
grinding out a living day by day. Why do you 
say nothing?" 

But Nela did not answer perhaps she was 
comparing the boy's hard lot with her own, and 
finding her own' much the worse of the two. 

" What do you want me to say ?" she replied 
at last. " I can never be any good to any one 
I am nobody. I can say , nothing to you. . . . 


But do not think such wicked things about your 
father I mean." 

" You only say so to comfort me ; but you 
know quite well it is true, and I do believe you 
are crying." 

"I no." 

"Yes, you are, I am sure." 

"Everyone has something to cry for," said 
Maria in a broken voice. " But it is very late, 
Celipin ; we must go to sleep." 

" No indeed, not if I know it !" 

" Yes, child ; go to sleep and do not think of 
such miserable things. Good- night." 

The shell closed and all was silent. 

We hear a great deal said about the hard and 
narrow materialism of cities, a dry rot which, amid 
all the splendor and pleasures of civilization, eats 
into the moral cohesion of society ; but there is a 
worse and deeper disease ; thg parochial material- 
ism of country villages which ossifies millions of 
living beings, crushes every noble ambition in 
their souls and shuts them into the petty round of 
a mechanical existence, reducing them to the 
meanest animal instincts. There are many more 
blatant evils in the social order as, for instance, 
speculation, usury, the worship of mammon 
among men of high culture ; but above all these, 


broods a monster which secretly and silently ruins 
more than all else, and that is the greed of the 
peasant. The covetous peasant acknowledges-. no .. 
moral law, has no religion, no clear notions of 
right ana wrong ; they are all inextricably mixed 
up in his mind with a strange compound of super- 
stition and calculating avarice. Behind an air of 
hypocritical simplicity, there lies a sinister arithme- 
tic which, for keenness and intelligibility, far 
transcends the methods of the best mathematicians. 
A peasant who has taken a fancy to hoard copper 
coin, and dreams of changing it presently into silver 
and then the silver into gold, is the most ignoble 
creature in creation ; he is capable of every form 
and device of malice known to man, combined 
with an absence of feeling that is appalling. His 
soul shrinks and shrivels till it is nothing more 
than a minim measure. Ignorance, coarseness, 
and squalor complete the abominable compound 
and deprive it of all the means of veiling the deso- 
lation within. He can only count on his fingers, 
but he is capable of reducing to figures all moral 
sense, conscience and the soul itself. 

Senana and Centeno, who, after many strug- 
gles, had contrived to earn their " morsel of bread" 
in the mines of Socartes, were able to make, with 
the added toil of their four children, a daily wage 


which they would have regarded as a princely for- 
tune in the days when they wandered from fair to 
fair selling pots and pipkins. It should be men- 
tioned with regard to the intellectual powers 
of Centeno, that his head, in the opinion' of many 
persons, rivalled the steam-hammer in the work- 
shops for sheer hardness ; with no disparagement 
to that of dame Ana, his wife, who seemed to 
be a woman of much prudence and discrimination, 
and who governed her household as carefully as 
the wisest prince could govern his dominions. She 
bagged the wages, earned by her husband and 
children, with the best grace in the world, and they 
amounted to a neat little sum ; and each time the 
money was brought home, she felt as if the very 
sacrament itself were being carried in, so intense 
was her delight at the mere sight of coin. 

Senana afforded her children very little com- 
fort in return for the fortune she was accumulating 
by the labor of their hands ; however, as they 
never complained of the utter and debasing 
misery in which they lived, as they betrayed no 
wish for emancipation, nor for a breath of any 
nobler life worthier of intelligent beings, Senana 
let the days slip on. Many indeed had slipped 
away before her children slept in beds, and many, 
many more before their brawny limbs were covered 


with decent garments. She gave them regular and 
wholesome meals, following in this respect the 
rules most in vogue ; but eating in her house was 
a melancholy ceremony nevertheless, a mere doling 
out of fodder, as it were, to human animals. 

So far as mental nourishment was concerned, 
Senana firmly believed that her husband's erudi- 
tion, acquired by much miscellaneous reading, 
was amply sufficient to credit the whole family 
with learning, and for that reason she forbore to 
cram the minds of her progeny even with the 
amount of instruction which is given in schools. 
The elder ones helped her, and the youngest lived 
free of pedagogues, buried alive for twelve hours 
out of every twenty-four in brutalizing toil in the 
mines, so that the whole family swam at large and 
at leisure in the vast and stagnant ocean of dul- 

The two girls, Mariuca and Pepina, were not 
destitute of charms, though youth and robust 
growth were the chief. One of them read fluently, 
but not the other, and, so far as knowledge of the 
world was concerned, it is easy to suppose that 
some rudimentary information, at least, was not 
lacking to girls who lived with a perfect chorus of 
nymphs of all ages and every grade of respect- 
ability or the contrary perpetually employed 


in mechanical work which left their tongues free 
to wag. Mariuca and Pepina were buxom and 
well grown, and as erect and strong as Amazons. 
They wore short petticoats, displaying half the calf 
of the leg which, as well as their broad feet, was 
bare, and their rough heads might have supported 
an architrave as stoutly as those of Caryatides. 
The russet dust of the iron ore which colored them 
from head to foot, like all in the mines, gave them 
the appearance of massive figures in terra-cotta. 

Tanasio was a lethargic being; his want of 
character and ambition verged on idiocy. Con- 
fined to the house from his earliest years, inca- 
pable of taking any exercise, of feeling either 
annoyance or pleasure, or of fulfilling any task, 
the boy, who was born to be a machine, had sunk 
into something not superior to the roughest tool. 
The day which found such a creature able to orig- 
inate an idea, would infallibly see the total subver- 
sion of the order of nature; for, hitherto, no stone 
has been known to think. 

The relation of this family to their mother was 
that of abject submission on their part, and unlim- 
ited despotism on hers. The only child who 
ever dared to show symptoms of rebellion was the 
little one. Senana, with her narrow capacities, 
could not at all understand this diabolical ambi- 


tion to be something better than a stone. Was 
there did he suppose any happier or more 
exemplary life than that of a stone ? She would 
not admit that it might be changed, even for that 
of a rolling stone. Senana loved her children 
but there are so many ways of loving. She placed 
them above every other consideration - so long 
as they submitted to work perpetually in the 
mines, to pour all their earnings into- one bowl, to 
obey her blindly, to cherish no wild aspirations 
nor wish to appear in fine clothes, not to- marry too 
young, nor to learn any mischievous trash and 
cram their heads with school-work, since " poor 
folks" she would say "must always remain poor 
and behave as such, and not be wanting to jabber 
in the style of the rich city folks, who were eaten 
up with vices and rotten with sin." 

I have described the manners and customs 
which prevailed in the Centeno's house in order 
that the reader may understand the life to which 
Nela was doomed, a helpless, forsaken creature, 
alone, useless, incapable of earning a day's wages ; 
alike without a past and without a future, with no 
right to anything on earth beyond a bare subsist- 
ence. Senana gave her this, and firmly believed 
that her generosity was nothing short of heroic. 
Many a time would she say, as she filled Nela's 


little platter : " What a reward I am laying up for 
myself hereafter in Heaven !" And she believed 
it as if it were Gospel. No true light could pene- 
trate her thick skull as to the saintly exercise of 
charity ; she could never have understood that a 
kind word, a caress, a loving and gentle action, 
which may make a wretch forget his misery, are 
infinitely more precious aye, and more heroic 
than the broken meat left from a bad meal. It 
was but a chance that she did not give them to 
the cat, who, at least, was far more kindly spoken 
to. Nela never heard herself addressed as mi- 
chita, little pet, precious darling nor by any 
other of the sweet and endearing names that were 
lavished on the cat. 

Nothing ever suggested to Nela that she was 
born of human beings, like the other inhabitants of 
the house. She was never punished ; but she felt 
that this immunity arose from their contemptuous 
pity for her feeble frame, and certainly not from 
any special esteem or care for her person. No 
one had ever taught her that she had a soul ready 
to bring forth good fruit if she cultivated it with 
care, nor that she bore within herself, like other 
mortals, that spark of the divine fire which is 
called human intelligence, and that this spark 
might be fanned to beneficent light and flame. No 


one had ever told her that her grotesque small- 
ness included in itself the germ of every noble 
and delicate sentiment, and that those tiny buds 
might open out to lovely flowers, with no more 
cultivation than a herb that we glance at now and 
again. No one had told her that she had a right, 
by the very sternness of Nature in creating her, to 
certain tender cares which the strong can dispense 
with the healthy and those who have parents 
and a home ; since under the laws of Christian 
jurisprudence the helpless, the poor, the orphan, 
and the destitute, are all alike worthy of protection. 
On the other hand, everything combined to 
impress upon her, her absolute resemblance to a 
rolling stone, which has not even a shape of its 
own, but takes that which the waters give it or 
the kick of the man that spurns it. Everything 
told her that her place in the house was something 
below the cat, whose sleek back received the only 
caresses ever bestowed on anyone, and the black- 
bird that hopped about its cage. And of them, 
at any rate, no one said in heartless compassion : 
" Poor creature ! it is a pity she did not die !" 




THE smoke of the furnaces, which all night 
through were wide awake and panting out their 
hot, hoarse breath, caught a silvery gleam as its 
wreaths rolled into the distance ; the faint smile of 
dawn fell upon the remotest peaks of the moun- 
tains, and, by degrees, the hills that guard Socartes 
came out of the darkness, the huge slopes of rust- 
colored earth and the blackened buildings. The 
bell of the works rang out shrilly its call " to work, 
to work," and hundreds of sleepy souls came out 
of the houses, huts, hovels, holes even. Doors 
creaked on their hinges ; the mules came reluc- 
tantly out of the stables, making their way to their 
watering-place, and the whole establishment, 
which had just now looked like a city of the dead 
lighted up by the infernal glare of the furnaces, 
came to life and began to stir its thousand arms. 

The steam soon was seething in the boilers 
of the great steam-engine, which supplied the 
motive power both for the workshops and 
the washing-mills. The water, which performed 
the principal part in the operations, began 


to flow through the raised conduits from 
which it fell on the cylinders. Files of men 
and women just risen from their beds, made their 
way down to the scene of labor, and at length the 
cylindrical sieves began to revolve with hideous 
groaning ; the water rushed from one to the other, 
pulverizing the dark earth which tumbled on in 
muddy eddies and cataracts, from trough to trough, 
till it settled at last in a fine chocolate-brown pow- 
der. The sound was as of a thousand hungry 
jaws chewing grit and sand ; the play of light on 
water and soil made it as dazzling as a kaleido- 
scope, and the clatter was like some enormous 
hollow drum, filled with pebbles and potsherds. 
It was impossible to look on without turning 
giddy at the incessant whirl of a vast skein, as it 
were, of threads of water, some clear and transpar- 
ent, others stained red by the ferruginous clay; nor 
could any human brain that was not accustomed 
to the spectacle, picture to itself this mad struggle 
of toothed wheels which never ceased biting at 
each other, of cogs, that .met, and caught, and 
rolled away again, of screws which, as they turned, 
shrieked in pitiless clamor for oil. 

The washing was all done in the open air. 
The connecting belts came humming down from 
the machinery sheds ; other belts began to re- 


volve, and at the same time a rhythmical stamp- 
ing was heard, a slow and awful tramp like a 
giant's step, or a fearful throbbing inside mother 
earth. This was the great hammer which had be- 
gun to beat ; its stupendous blows moulded the 
iron like a paste, and those huge wheels, and 
beams, which look as if made to last forever, be- 
gan to twist and writhe like the limbs of men in 
torment, while the hammer, with its monotonous 
impact, created new forms as strong as the rocks 
which are the work of ages. For the results of labor 
have a strange resemblance to the results of patience. 
Men so black, that they look like hewn and 
animated coal, gathered round the fiery objects 
that were taken from the forges, and seizing them 
with those prolonged hands known as tongs, 
set to work to hammer them. It is a strange 
kind of sculpture, this, which has fire for its in- 
spiring genius and a steam-hammer for its chisel. 
Wheels and axle-trees for thousands of trucks, and 
the damaged portions of the washing-machinery, 
were repaired here, and picks, spades and barrows 
were made. At the back of the workshops saws 
hissed through blocks of timber, and the iron, 
which had been formed for labor by fire of wood, 
now cut through the sturdy fibre of trees hewn by 
the axe from their native spot. 


Meanwhile, the mules had been harnessed to 
long trains of trucks which carried off the waste 
earth to add it to the slopes already made, or 
fetched the mineral to be washed. They looked 
like immense reptiles, crawling up and down to 
meet each other, and always passing close but with- 
out any jar or collision. They crept into the 
mouths- of the tunnels, and their resemblance was 
really perfect to the wriggling creatures that shel- 
ter in such damp clefts and caves ; and when the 
recalcitrant mules kicked and shied in the bowels 
of the earth, it was easy to fancy the Saurians were 
fighting and screaming at each other. In the 
deepest recesses of all, hundreds of men were 
tearing up the earth with picks, inch by inch, to 
win the hidden treasure ; these were the sculptors 
of the strange and enormous figures which stood 
in awful gravity and silence to confront the man 
who should venture to invade their mysterious do- 
main. The miners hewed down here, bored holes 
there, dug farther on in one place, scraped down 
the wall in another, broke up the limestone, chip- 
ped out the pretty flakes of mica and shale, 
pounded down the calcareous clay, picked out the 
hematite and pyrites, crushed the fine, white 
marble rolling and stirring it incessantly till it 
should yield zinc silicate for zinc may be called 


the silver of Europe, which, being a metal of 
which you cannot make saucepans, is destined 
to become the fount of wealth and civilization. 
Is it not on zinc that Belgium has hoisted her 
standard of moral and political greatness ? Aye, 
tin even has its epic ! 

The sky was clear and bright ; the sun rose 
unclouded on the scene, and the wide settlement 
of Socartes flashed from dark neutrality into red- 
ness. The sculptured rocks, the heaps of ore, the 
hillocks of waste soil that rose on every side like 
Babylonian mounds, were red ; the ground, the 
trucks and carts, the machinery, the water and the 
laborers that gave life to Socartes. The brick- 
colored tone was universal, with faint shades of 
difference in the earth and the houses, the metal 
and the people's garments. The women at work 
at the washing looked like a crowd of nymphs, 
come down in the world, and cast in red iron- 
stone. A rivulet of crimson fluid ran through the 
bottom conduit to join a crimson river you 
might fancy it the sweat of these toiling men and 
machines, of muscles and of iron. 

Nela stepped out of the house. Even she, 
though she did not work in the mines, was faintly 
tinged with the universal ruddle, for the finely- 
powdered metal spared no one. In her hand she 


held a hunch of bread which Senana had given 
her for breakfast, and as she eat it she walked on 
quickly, lost in thought and not lingering to amuse 
herself. She had soon passed the workshops and, 
going up the inclined plane and the steps before 
mentioned, she reached the houses of Aldeacorba. 
The first of these was a handsome and stately 
mansion, large, well-built, and cheerful looking, 
but lately restored and painted ;" with stone 
boundary walls, decorated eaves and a broad 
escutcheon surrounded by granite foliage. And 
the escutcheon itself would be less missed than the 
climbing vine, whose long and leafy branches 
looked like whiskers growing, as whiskers do, 
on each side of a face, of which the two windows 
served as eyes, while the escutcheon was the nose 
and the long balcony the mouth, always widely 
grinning. And to complete this whimsical air of 
personality, a beam stuck out from the balcony in- 
tended to attach a rope to support an awning, and 
with this addition the face was seen as smoking a 
cigar. The roof was in the shape of a cap and in it 
there was a window that might represent the tas- 
sel. The chimneys could only be the ears. It was 
one of those faces in which a physiognomist reads 
plainly, peace of mind, ease of circumstance and a 
quiet conscience. 


In front of it was a little court-yard en- 
closed by a wall of adobe, and on one side was 
a pretty orchard. As Nela went in she met the cows 
coming out to pasture, and after exchanging a few 
words with their driver a formidable youth, 
about four feet high and ten years old she went 
straight up to a stout gentleman, whiskered, grey- 
haired and florid, with a kind face and pleasant 
smile, and a half-military and half-rustic air; 
he was in his shirt sleeves and braces, and his 
hairy arms were bared to the elbow. Before the 
little girl addressed him, he looked up at the house 
and called out : " Here is Nela, my boy !" 

A lad at once made his appearance, remarka- 
bly tall, grave and erect, his head held somewhat 
stiffly and his eyes fixed and vacant like lenses. 
His face was like marble, carved with exquisite 
sharpness, and his skin was as fine and soft as a 
girl's ; there was not a feature or a line which was 
not of that supremely beautiful type of manliness 
which was the outcome of a thousand years of 
Hellenic thought. Those eyes even, so purely 
sculpturesque in their lack of sight, were large, 
grand and brilliant. Their fixity lost its strange- 
ness when you remembered that behind them all 
was night. In the absence of the faculty which is 
the cause and origin of facial expression, this blind 


Antinous had the cold serenity of marble, endowed 
with form by the genius of sculpture and with life by 
a vital spark. A breath, a ray of warmth, a mere 
sensation would suffice to animate the beautiful 
stone which, while it possessed every charm of 
form, was devoid of that consciousness of its own 
beauty, which is born of the faculty of seeing it 
He looked about twenty, and his strong and 
graceful frame was in every respect worthy of the 
incomparable head that crowned it. Never was a 
more lamentable injustice done by Nature, than to 
this perfect example of humanity as to beauty, 
blest, on one hand, with every gift, and bereft, on 
the other, of the sense by which man has most 
in common with his fellow-man and gains familiar- 
ity with all the marvels of creation at large. The 
injustice was such, that these splendid gifts were 
useless it was as though after creating all things 
the Creator had left them in darkness, so that he 
could not himself take pleasure in his works. And 
to make the privation more conspicuous, the young 
man had mental lights of the highest order and a 
very superior intelligence. To have this and to 
lack the faculty of conceiving the idea of visibility, 
of form as distinct from mere matter, and at the 
same time to be as beautiful as an angel ; to have 
all the faculties of a man and be as blind as a 


vegetable ! It was strange and hard. We, alas ! 
know not the secret of these terrible injustices ; if 
we did, then- -indeed the_gates would be open to us 
which hide the primordial secrets of moral and 
physical duty; we should understand the fathom- 
less mysteries of inherited woe, of evil and of 
death, and might take measure of the dark shadow 
which always haunts life and all that is good in it. 

Don Francisco Penaguilas, the young man's 
father, was more than good, he was admirable ; 
judicious, kind, genial, honorable and magnani- 
mous, and well educated too. No one disliked 
him ; he was the most respected of all the .rich 
land-owners in the country side, and more than 
one delicate question had been settled by the 
mediation always equitable and intelligent of 
the Sefwr de Aldeacorba de Suso. The house in 
which we now find him had been the home of his 
infancy. In his youth he had been to America, 
and on returning to Spain without having made 
his fortune, he had joined the National Guard. He 
then returned to his native town where, having 
inherited a good fortune, he devoted himself to 
husbandry and to breeding cattle, and at the 
period of our story he had just come into another 
and even larger sum. 

His wife, who was an Andalusian, had died 


very young, leaving him the one son who, from 
his birth, was found to be deprived of the most 
precious of the five senses. This was the one 
drop which embittered the tender father's cup. 
What was the use of reminding him that he was 
wealthy, that fortune favored all his undertakings 
and smiled on his house ? For whose sake did he 
care about it all ? For one who could see neither 
the thriving beasts, the flowery meadows, the 
overflowing granaries, nor the orchard with its 
abundant crop. Don Francisco would gladly 
have given his own eyes to his son, and have re- 
mained blind for the rest of his days, if such an 
act of generosity were possible in this work-a-day 
world ; but, as it was not, Don Francisco could 
only carry his devotion into practice by giving the 
hapless youth every pleasure which could alleviate 
the gloom of the darkness in which he lived. For 
him he was indefatigable in the cares and the end- 
less trifling details of forethought and affection of 
which mothers have the secret and fathers some- 
times, when the mother is no more. He never 
contradicted his son in anything which might con- 
sole or entertain him within the limits of propriety 
and morality. He amused him with narratives and 
reading, watched him with studious anxiety, con- 
sidering his health, his legitimate amusements, his 


instruction and his Christian education ; for, said 
Senor de Penaguilas, whose principles were strictly 
orthodox : " I would not have my son doubly 

Now, as he came out of the house, he said 
affectionately : 

" Do not go too far to-day, and do not run 

He watched them from the gate till they had 
turned the corner of the garden wall, and then he 
went indoors, for he had many things to do ; to 
write to his brother Manuel, to buy a cow, to 
prune a tree, and to see whether the guinea-hen 
had laid. 



PABLO and Marianela went out into the coun- 
try, preceded by Choto, who ran on and danced 
round them, leaping with delight, and sharing his 
caresses with great impartiality between his master 
and his master's guide. 

" Nela," said Pablo, " it is a lovely day ; the 
air is soft and fresh, and the sun warm without 
being scorching. Where shall we go ?" 


" Let us go straight on through the meadows," 
replied Nela, poking her hand into one of the 
pockets of the lad's coat. "What have you 
brought me to-day ?" 

" Search and you will find," said Pablo 

" Ah ! Holy Virgin ! chocolate ! how I love 
chocolate! nuts and something done up in 
paper. What is it ? Oh, Blessed Virgin ! a 
sweetie ! Do not I like sweeties ! How rich I am ! 
We do not have such good things to eat at home, 
Pablo. There is no luxury in our food ; there is 
no luxury in our clothes either, to be sure. In fact, 
no luxury of any sort." 

" Where shall we go to-day ?" repeated the 
blind lad. 

" Wherever you like, child of my heart," re- 
plied Nela, eating the sugar-plum and tearing up 
the paper it had been wrapped in. " I hear and 
obey, king of the world." 

The child's black eyes sparkled with happiness; 
her sprightly little bird-like face smiled and wrink- 
led with satisfaction, and was not still for an in- 
stant, as though fitful flashes came and went there 
like dimpling light on wavelets in a pool. This 
helpless little creature, whose spirit seemed im- 
prisoned and confined in the feeble body, ex- 


panded and rose elastic when she was alone with 
her master and friend. With him she at once be- 
came original, bright and intelligent; she had 
feeling, grace, refinement and fancy. When she 
left him, the dark doors of a prison seemed to close 
on her once more. 

" But I tell you we will go wherever you 
like," remarked the blind youth. "I like to do 
what you like. If you wish we will go to the 
clump of trees beyond Saldeoro but just as you 

"Yes, yes, delightful!" exclaimed Nela, clap- 
ping her hands. "And as there is no hurry, we can 
sit down whenever we are tired." 

" There is a nice place near the spring do you 
remember, Nela? And there are some large tree- 
trunks, which seem to have been left there on pur- 
pose for us to sit upon, and we hear so many, 
many birds singing, that it is quite glorious." 

" And we can go past the mill-stream that, you 
say, talks and mumbles the words out like a tipsy 
man. Oh ! what a lovely day and how happy I 

" Is the sun very bright, Nela ? Though if you 
say ' yes,' I shall be none the wiser, since bright 
has no meaning for me." 

" It is very bright indeed, Seiiorito mio. But 


what does it matter that you cannot see it ? The 
sun is not at all pretty ; you cannot look in its 

" Why not ?" 

" Because it hurts." 

" Hurts what ?" 

" Hurts the eyes. How do you feel when you 
are happy ?" 

"When I am out with you, just we two to- 
gether in the fields ?" 


" Oh ! I feel inside me a sort of freshness, a 
springing up of something sweet and sooth- 
ing. . . ," 

" That is just it ; now you know how the sun 
shines bright." 

" What with freshness ?" 

"No, no silly boy." 

"What then?" 

" Oh, like that" 

" Like that ? But what is that ?" 

" Like that," Nela insisted again. 

" I see, it is a thing that cannot be explained 
in words. Do you know I used to have a notion 
of day and of night. It was daytime when people 
talked, it was night when people were silent and 
the cocks crowed. Now I estimate it differently ; it 
''*.:" V 5 


is day when you and I are together, and it is 
night when we are apart." 

" Ah, Holy Mother !" exclaimed the girl, shak- 
ing back the elf-locks that hung over her forehead. 
"To me, who can see, it is exactly the same." 

" I mean to ask my father to let you come and 
live in our house, so that I may always have you 
with me." 

" Good, good !" cried Marianela clapping her 
hands once more. And as she spoke, she skipped 
on a little way in front and picking up her skirts 
with a great deal of grace began to dance. 

" What are you about ?" asked the blind boy. 

" Child of my heart, I am dancing, I felt so 
happy that I thought I must dance." 

However, they now had to get over a little fence, 
and she slipped her hand into his. After surmount- 
ing this obstacle, they went along a lane hedged in 
on each side by luxuriant ivy and brambles. Nela 
held the branches back that they might not scratch 
her companion's face, and at last, after going down- 
hill for a considerable time, they went up a slope 
shaded by chestnut and walnut trees. When they 
had reached the top Pablo said : 

" If you do not mind we will sit down here. I 
hear some people going past." 

" They are the people returning from the mar- 


ket at Homedes. To-day is Wednesday. The 
high-road runs just below and we can rest here be- 
fore going on." 

" It is the best thing we can do. Choto, come 

The trio seated themselves. 

"The place is full of flowers," said Nela. 
"What beauties!" 

" Pick me some. Though I cannot see them, 
I like to hold them in my hand. I fancy I can 
hear them." 

" Here are some lovely ones." 

" As I hold them in my hand I fancy that they 
make me feel and understand I cannot tell you 
how that they are pretty and gay. There is 
something inside me, that they seem to belong to, 
and that answers to them. Do you know, Nela, 
I fancy that I can really see, inside, as it were." 

" Oh ! yes, I quite understand we have every- 
thing inside us there. The sun, the flowers, the 
moon and wide blue sky, with all the stars we 
have them all there ; I mean that besides all the 
beautiful things outside us, and around us, we carry 
others with us in our minds. Here you have a 
flower and another, and another six, all quite 
different. Now, what do you think flowers are ?" 

" Flowers," said the blind youth, puzzled and 

5 * 


lifting them to his face. "Flowers are I fancy as 
if the_ earth _ .smiled; but, in truth, I know very 
little about plants and flowers." 

" Merciful Mother ! what terrible ignorance !" 
cried Nela, stroking her friend's hands. " Flowers 
are the stars of the earth." 

" What an extravagant fancy ! And what are 
the stars then ?" 

" The stars are the eyes of those who have 
gone to Heaven and look down on us." 

" Well, but then the flowers. ..." 

" Are the eyes of those who are dead and 
have not gone straight to Heaven," said the girl, 
with all the decision and conviction of a Doctor 
of Theology. " The dead are buried in the ground ; 
but as they cannot lie still there without just peep- 
ing out at the world, they put forth something 
which takes the form of a flower. When, in a 
field there are many, many flowers, it is because 
once upon a time, long ago, a great many people 
were buried there." 

" No, no," said Pablo very seriously. " Do 
not believe such nonsense. Our holy religion 
teaches us that the spirit quits the flesh and that 
our mortal life comes to an end. What is buried, 
Nela, is a mere shell of useless clay which can 
neither think, nor feel, nor even see." 


" The books say so but Senana says that 
books are full of lies." 

" But faith and reason say so too, dear Nela. 
Your imagination makes you believe a number of 
foolish things, but by degrees I will show you 
your errors, and you will have true and right 
ideas about everything in this world and the 

" Aye, aye ! I know, lessons at three for a 
penny! And you wanted to make me believe 
that the sun stands still and the earth spins round 
and round it ! How can you know, you who can- 
not see. Merciful Heaven ! May I die on the 
spot, if the earth is not as steady as a rock and the 
sun running on. Seiiorito mio, I do not set up 
for learning, but I have spent many hours of the 
day and night in looking at the sky, and I know 
how the machine works. The earth is below and 
full of islands, some large and some small. The 
sun comes up on this side and goes down out there. 
It is God Almighty's palace." 

" Foolish child !" 

" But why not ? Ah ! you have never seen a 
fine day and clear sky; why, child, you could 
fancy blessing was dropping down from it. I do 
not think there could be wicked people nobody 
could be wicked if they would only turn up 


their faces and see the great eye that looks down 
upon us." 

" Your religion is full of superstition, my little 
Nela. I will teach you something better." 

" Nobody has taught me anything," said Maria 
very simply. " But I myself, whoever may object, 
have found out in my own head a great many 
ideas that comfort me, and so when a good idea 
occurs to me, I say : ' Of course, it must be so ; it 
cannot be otherwise.' At night, when I am alone 
at home, I wonder what will become of us when 
we die, and I think how much the Holy Virgin 
loves us." 

"Yes, she is our loving Mother." 

" And I look up at the sky and I feel her close 
over my head, just as when you go up to any one, 
you feel the warmth of their breath. She looks 
at us night and day through all the lovely things 
there are in the world do not laugh at me." 

" Those lovely things. . . . ?" 

" Are her eyes, of course. Oh ! you would 
understand it if you had eyes yourself. You have 
not seen a white cloud, a tree, a flower, running 
water, a little child, a little lamb, the sparkling 
dew, the moon sailing across the sky, and the stars, 
which are the eyes of the good men who are 
dead. . . " 


" They would not want to go up there if they 
lie under the ground throwing out flowers." 

" Only hear this all-knowing fellow ! Why 
they stay down there only till they are purified of 
sin, and then they mount and fly up there. Yes, 
I believe it, simpleton. Why, what can the stars 
be if they are not the souls of those who are 
saved ? Do not you know that stars sometimes 
come down ? 1,1 myself, have seen them fall ; 
down, down, leaving a ray of light behind them. 
Yes, Senor, the stars come down when they have 
something to tell us here below." 

" Oh, Nela !" Pablo exclaimed eagerly. "Your 
wild imaginings, absurd as they are, charm and 
captivate me, for they betray the innocence of 
your soul and the strength of your fancy. All 
your errors even are part of an earnest disposition 
to know the truth, and of great gifts, which would 
be very superior talents if they were cultivated by 
reason and education. You must acquire one 
precious accomplishment of which I am deprived 
you must positively learn to read." 

" To read ! And who is to teach me ?" 

" My father will ; I will ask him to teach you. 
You know he never refuses me anything. What a 
pity it is you should live in such a wretched way; 
your mind is a mine of treasures. You are good- 


ness and sweetness itself and have a lovely imagi- 
nation. God has given you a large share of all 
the gifts that are in his store and part of himself; 
I know it well I cannot see what is outside, but I 
can see within, and I know all the wonders of your 
spirit that you have shown me since you have 
been my guide. It is a year and a half now, and 
it seems like yesterday, that we first began our 
walks together and yet, no ; I have known you 
a thousand years. How is it that there is such a 
close relationship between your feelings and mine ? 
Just now, for instance, you have talked all sorts 
of extravagant nonsense, and I, who know the 
truth about the world and religion, I was stirred 
to enthusiasm as I listened to you. I feel as if it 
were a voice speaking in my own heart." 

" Holy Mother !" exclaimed the girl, folding 
her hands.. " And can he see something else that 
I feel ?" 

" What is that ?" 

" That I was put into the world expressly to 
be your lazarillo, and that my eyes would be of 
no use at all, if it were not to guide you and to 
tell you how beautiful the world is." 

The blind boy turned his head suddenly and 
eagerly, and putting out his hands to touch the 
child by his side, he said anxiously : 


" Tell me, Nela what are you like ?" 
But Nela did not answer ; the question was a 
stab to her heart. 



BY this time they were rested, and they went 
on till they reached the beginning of the grove 
beyond Saldeoro. Here they turned off into a 
clump of ancient walnut trees, of which the trunks 
and roots made a sort of step-ladder in the soil, 
with mossy hollows and backs so perfect for seats, 
that the hand of man could have made no better. 
From the top of the slope trickled a thread of 
water, tumbling from stone to stone, till it fell ex- 
hausted into a little basin constructed to be a 
reservoir to feed the conduit by which the neigh- 
boring houses were supplied. Before them the 
land sloped gently away, affording a lovely pano- 
rama of green hills with scattered groves and 
villas, and meadow plains where hundreds of 
cattle grazed and wandered peacefully. Quite in 
the background, between two lofty heights which 
were the farthest limit of the land, lay a wide seg- 
ment of purely blue sea. It was such a landscape 


as makes a man feel to the utmost his relations to 
infinity and eternity. 

Pablo had seated himself on the trunk of a 
tree, resting his left arm on the edge of the basin ; 
with his right hand he pulled at the boughs which 
hung low enough to touch his forehead, on which 
now and again the sunbeams played, as the boughs 

" What are you doing, Nela ?" asked he, after 
a pause, not hearing the steps, the voice, nor even 
the breathing of his companion. " What are you 
about, and where are you ?" 

" Here I am," said Nela, laying her hand on 
his shoulder. " I was looking at the sea." 

" Ah !. it must be a long way off." 

" It is visible between the hills of Ficobriga." 

" Very large immensely large so wide that 
you might look all day, and not have done looking 
is it not ?" 

" There is only a piece to be seen from here 
like the bit you cut off with your teeth when 
you put a slice of bread in your mouth." 

"Yes, yes I understand. Every one says 
there is nothing in the world so beautiful as the 
sea, because it is so grandly simple. Listen, 
Nela, to what I am going to say but what are 
you doing ?" Nela had grasped a bough of the 


tree with both hands, and was swinging by it 
lightly and gracefully. 

" Here I am, Senorito mio, I was wondering 
why God should not give us human creatures 
wings to fly like birds. How delightful it would 
be just to give a flap and a whisk, and up we 
should go, and in one flight we should be at the 
top of that peak between Ficobriga and the sea." 

" But though God has not given us wings he 
has given us thought instead, which flies faster 
than any bird, since it can fly up to God himself. 
Tell me, child, of what good would wings be to 
me, if God had denied me the gift of thought ?" 

" But I should like to have both. And if I 
had wings I would pick you up in my little beak 
to take you out of this world, and carry you up 
ever so much higher than the clouds." The blind 
lad put out his hand to stroke Nela's hair. 

" Sit down by me ; are you not tired ?" 

" Just a little," she said, sitting down and lay- 
ing her head with childlike confidence on her 
master's shoulder. 

" You are breathing fast, Nelilla, you are very 
tired ; it is with trying to fly. Well, what I want 
to say to you is this : Talking of the sea put me. 
in mind of a thing my father read to me last night. 
You know that ever since I was old enough, my 


father has been in the habit of reading to me 
every evening different books of science, or his- 
tory, or art, or mere amusement. I might say 
that these readings make up all I know of life. 
The Lord, to compensate me for being blind, has 
given me a very good memory, and it has turned 
these readings to good account ; for though there 
has been no regular method in them, I have con- 
trived to put some order into the ideas that have 
penetrated to my understanding. How I have 
enjoyed listening and learning about the admirable 
laws and order of the universe, the harmonious 
circling of the stars, the motion of atoms, and 
above all, those grand principles which govern our 
souls and minds. I have enjoyed history too, 
which is a true account of all the things men have 
done in former times ; for though, my child, they 
have always done the same wicked and foolish 
things, they have nevertheless gone on improving, 
some of them doing their utmost but without 
ever succeeding to attain that perfection which 
belongs to God alone. And finally, my father has 
read me some deeper and more mysterious things 
that cannot be understood at once, but when they 
are thought over and considered they occupy and 
charm the mind. He does not enjoy that sort of 
reading very much, as he does not altogether fol- 


low it, and it has tired me sometimes, while at 
other times it has delighted me. And there is no 
doubt that when you have an author who explains 
himself clearly, such subjects are very interesting. 
They deal with cause and effect, the rationale of all 
we think, and how we think, and teach us about 
the essential nature of things." 

Nela did not seem to understand a single 
word of what her friend was saying, but she lis- 1 
tened attentively with her mouth wide open ; to 
inhale, if possible, the essences and causes of 
which her master was discoursing, opening her 
beak like a bird watching the movements of a fly 
he wants to catch. 

" Well, then," he went on, " last night he was 
reading me some pages about Beauty. The 
author, in discussing Beauty, said that it was the 
outcome and radiance of goodness and truth, with 
many other ingenious comparisons so well thought 
out and expressed, that it was a pleasure to 

" And was that book," said Nela, anxious to 
prove herself equal to the occasion, " like one 
father Centeno has. . . . The thousand and I don't 
know how many nights ?" 

" No, no, goose-cap ; it is a book on Beauty 
in the abstract, you will not understand on ideal 


Beauty and yet you must understand that there 
is a sort of Beauty which cannot be seen, nor 
touched, nor perceived by any of our senses." 

" For example, like the Virgin Mary," inter- 
rupted Nela, " whom we cannot see nor touch, 
because her pictures are not herself, but only her 

" You are quite right ; it is just like that. 
Thinking over this, my father shut the book, and 
talked of one thing and another. We spoke then 
of beauty of form, and my father said : ' This 
unfortunately you can never understand.' But I 
said I could. I said that there could only be one 
type, and that would apply to all." 

Nela, caring little enough for such subtleties, 
had taken -the flowers out of her companion's 
hands, and was arranging their colors to her taste, 

"I have a clear idea about this," the blind 
lad went on, vehemently, "an idea that I have 
been quite in love with for some months. Yes, I 
am sure, quite sure of it ; I want no eyes to see 
that, and I said to my father, I have an ideal of 
enchanting beauty, a type which includes every 
possible perfection, and that type is Nela. My 
father began to laugh, and said 'yes.' ' 

Nela turned as scarlet as a poppy, and could 
not answer a word. During a short spasm of ter- 


ror and pain, she felt as if the blind boy were 
looking at her. 

" Yes, you are the most perfect beauty imagi- 
nable," Pablo went on, eagerly. " How could it be 
possible that your goodness, and innocence, and 
freshness and grace your imagination, your sweet 
and lovely soul, which have all combined to enliven 
and comfort my dark and melancholy life how, 
I say, could it be possible that they should not be 
embodied in a person as lovely ? Nela, Nela," 
and his voice trembled with anxiety. "Tell me 
are you not beautiful very pretty?" 

Nela was silent ; she instinctively put her 
hands up, and stuck into her hair some of the 
half-faded flowers she had gathered in the mead- 

" You will not say ? You are modest. In- 
deed, if*you were not, you would not be the sweet 
little soul that you are ; the logic of Beauty would 
be at fault, and that cannot be. You do not an- 
swer ?" 

"I . ..." murmured Nela timidly, not ceasing 
her occupation, " I do not know they say that I 
was very pretty as a baby but now . . . ." 

" You are still ?" 

Maria, in her utter confusion, could only say : 

" Now well, you know that people talk non- 


sense and make stupid mistakes sometimes 
those who have eyes see least." 

" Yes indeed, well said ! Come here and kiss 

Nela did not instantly obey, for having suc- 
ceeded in fixing a sort of garland of flowers in her 
hair, she now felt an eager wish to see the effect 
of the adornment in the clear mirror of the reser- 
voir. For the first time in her life she felt an im- 
pulse of vanity, and leaning on her hands, she bent 
over the basin. 

" What are you doing ?" asked the blind lad. 

" I am looking at myself in the water, which is 
just like a looking-glass," she replied, confessing 
her vanity with perfect simplicity. 

" You need not do that. You are as lovely as 
the angels round the throne of God." He had 
fired himself with enthusiastic imaginings. * 

" The water is ruffled now," said the girl, 
" and I cannot see myself plainly. It is trembling 
as much as I am. There, now it is quieter, now 
it is still again. I can see myself now, very well." 

" And see how pretty you are ! Come here, 
my child ?" added the blind youth, holding out his 

"I .... pretty !" she said, in anxious confusion. 
" Well, what I see in the pool is not so ugly as 


they say. The fact is, there are a great many 
people who do not know how to see." 

" Aye, a great many." 

" If only I were dressed as other girls are !" 
exclaimed Nela, with a touch of pride. 

"You shall be." 

" And the book said I was beautiful ?" asked 
Nela, appealing to every source of conviction. 

" I say so, and I always speak the truth !" cried 
the boy, carried away by his eager imagination. 

" Maybe it is so," said Nela, moving away 
from her not too flattering contemplation. " May- 
be that men are very stupid, and do not see 
things as they really are." 

" Human nature is liable to a thousand 

" I do believe it," said Mariquilla, greatly com- 
forted by her friend's words. " What can they 
see to laugh at in me ?" 

" Oh ! how miserable is the lot of man !" cried 
the blind boy, driven to wild absurdity by his rav- 
ing fancy. " The gift of sight may lead him into 
many errors may betray him into a misappre- 
hension of abstract truth and abstract truth 
proves that you are beautiful, without any stain 
or blemish of ugliness. If any one. tells me the 
contrary, I will give him the lie. Away with their 


theories of form. Oh, fool ! into what sins your 
eyes may mislead you ! Nela, come here, I want 
to have you by my side and kiss your beloved 

She threw herself into his arms. 

" Sweet, lovely darling !" he exclaimed, clasp- 
ing her passionately to his breast " With all my 
soul I love you !" 

Nela did not speak. Her heart was full of in- 
nocent and tender devotion, overflowing with pure 
delight. The youth, trembling and throbbing, 
held her more closely than ever, saying : 

" I love you more than my life. Angel of 
God, love me too or I shall die !" 

Maria freed herself from his embrace, and he 
remained lost in bewilderment. She, the tiny 
woman, felt an overwhelming and irresistible im- 
pulse to look at her face once more in the water. 
She gently stole up to the edge, and there against 
the green background she saw the insignificant 
little face, with its black eyes, its dull coloring, its 
sharp nose not altogether ugly that nose the 
short, unkempt hair, and the birdlike, eager ex- 
pression. She leaned farther over the stone brim 
to see her body ; it was pitiably made and mean. 
The flowers in her hair fell into the water, mak- 
ing circles in it, and the image wavered. She, 


poor child, felt as if her heart were being torn up 
by the roots, and she staggered backwards, mur- 

" -Mother of God ! how hideous I am !" 

" What are you saying, Nela ? I thought you 

" I did not say anything son of my soul. 
I was only thinking. Yes, it is high time we 
should turn homewards. It will soon be dinner- 

" Well, come along, you shall dine with me, 
and bye-and-by we will go out again. Give me 
your hand ; I will not have you leave me." 

When they reached home, Don Francisco was 
in the forecourt with two other gentlemen ; Maria- 
nela recognized the engineer of the mines and the 
stranger who had lost his way in La Terrible the 
night before. 

" Here are the Senor ingeniero," said she, 
" and his brother the gentleman of last even- 

All three men gazed with evident interest at 
the blind youth as he approached. 

" We have been expecting you some time, my 
son," said the father, taking his hand and intro- 
ducing him to the doctor. 

" Let us go indoors," said the engineer. 

'-.-.. 6* 


" Blessings on all men of science with good 
hearts !" exclaimed Don Francisco, turning to the 
doctor. " Walk in, gentlemen ; happy is the 
hour when you enter my house." 

" Now, let us study the case," murmured 

When Pablo and the two visitors had gone in, 
Don Francisco turned to Mariquilla, who was stand- 
ing transfixed and doubtful in the middle of the 
court- yard, and said kindly : 

" You see, Nela, you may as well go home. 
My son will not be able to go out this afternoon." 
And then, seeing that still she did not move, he 
added : 

" You may run round to the kitchen. Doro- 
tea will give you something nice." 



THE following day Pablo and his guide set out 
at the same hour ; but, as the sky was overcast 
and a disagreeable breeze was blowing which 
threatened to become a south-westerly gale, they 
decided on making their walk a short one. Cross- 
ing the village green of Aldeacorba, they went 


along the great slope above the mines to the west, 
intending to go down into the excavations. 

" Nela, I must tell you something that will 
make you leap with joy," said the blind lad when 
they were at some distance from the house. " My 
heart is bursting with happiness. I feel as if the 
whole Universe, all the sciences, history, philoso- 
phy, natural history all that I have ever learnt 
had got inside me, and was dancing in procession. 
You saw those two gentlemen who were waiting 
for me yesterday . . . ." 

" Don Carlos and his brother . . . ." 
" He is a famous doctor who has been all over 
America, making wonderful cures. He is come 
to see his brother, and as Don Carlos is a great 
friend of my father's, he asked his brother to ex- 
amine me. How kind and gentle he is ! First he 
sat talking to me ; he asked me a number of 
questions, and told me all sorts of pleasant and 
amusing stories. Then he told me to sit quite 
still ; I felt his fingers on my eyelids, and after a 
long time he said something I did not understand 
medical terms, and my father never read me 
anything about medicine. Then he led me close 
to the window, and while he examined my eyes 
with some instrument the room was as quiet. 
Then he said to my father: " It is worth trying." 


They said more, but in a low voice that I might 
not hear, and I think they talked partly by signs. 
When the visitors were gone, my father said to 
me : ' Son of my soul, I cannot conceal from you 
the joy that is in me. This man, this angel from 
Heaven, has given me a hope a very faint hope 
but we cling most to a hope when it is smallest. 
I try to give it up by telling myself it is impos- 
sible no, almost impossible but it sticks to me 
like a burr.' This was what my father said, and 
I could hear in his voice that he was crying. 
What are you doing, Nela ? Are you dancing ?" 

" No. Here I am, close to you !" 

" But you used to dance when I told you any- 
thing that made me happy. Where shall we go 
to-day ?" 

" It is a dull day we will go as far as Tras- 
cava, that is a sheltered spot, and then go down 
into La Terrible." 

" Very well, just as you like. Oh, Nela! If 
only it could be true ; if God would have pity on 
me, and grant me the joy of seeing you. Even if 
I could only see for one day, and were blind again 
the next, how I would thank Him." 

Nela said nothing. After feeling at first in- 
tensely happy, she now walked on thoughtfully, 
with her eyes fixed on the ground. 


" Many wonderful things happen in the 
world," Pablo went on. " And God's mercy 
works in strange ways strikes as suddenly as his 
wrath. It comes upon us unexpectedly, after long 
punishment and torment, just as his anger falls on 
us in the midst of happiness which has seemed se- 
cure and eternal do you not think so ?" 

" Yes what you hope will be accom- 

" How do you know ?" 

" My heart tells me so." 

" Your heart tells you ! And why should not 
such warnings come true ?" cried Pablo, fervently. 
" Yes such chosen souls as yours can, in some 
cases, foresee the issue. I have noticed it in my- 
self, for, as I am not diverted from self-inspection 
by seeing things outside me, I have perceived 
sometimes that I had a whispered presentiment 
that was quite inexplicable. Then when some 
event or other has come to pass, I have said to 
myself with astonishment : ' I knew all this be- 
forehand.' ' 

"The same thing happens to me," replied 
Nela. " Yesterday you told me you loved me 
dearly, and when I got home I said to myself: 
' It is very strange, but I knew something of 

this.' " ;. 


" It is wonderful, .dear little one, how perfectly 
our souls are one. United by our own wish and 
will, nothing is wanting but a bond of union. That 
bond shall be tied if I really gain the precious 
sense that I have never enjoyed. The idea of 
seeing would never have taken possession of my 
mind if I did not cherish above all things the idea 
that through it I should love you better. The ac- 
quisition of that power can be nothing to me but 
the faculty of admiring in a new kind of way what 
I already admire so truly by the way of love. 
But I fancy you are sad to-day." 

" Yes, I am ; and to tell you the truth, I do 
not know why. I am very happy and very sad, 
both at once. The day is so gloomy it would 
be better if it never were day at all, always 

" Nay, nay, things are good as they are. Day 
and night ! If God ever grant me to know the 
difference, how happy I shall be ! Why are you 

" We have come to a dangerous bit. We 
must turn aside a little way to get to the path." 

" Ah ! La Trascava ! This slippery grass 
slopes down till it is lost in the chasm. Whatever 
falls down there does not come up again. Let us 
go away, Nela; I do not like this place." 


" Silly boy, it is a long way from this to the 
mouth of the chasm. And it is very pretty here 

Nela stood still and detained her companion 
by the arm, looking down at the mouth of the 
gulf which opened in the earth, in shape like a 
funnel. The sloping sides of this narrow, deep 
basin were covered by extremely fine turf; at the 
very bottom a large oblong rock lay on the grass 
among brambles, fennel shrubs and rushes, and 
an immense variety of gay-colored flowers. The 
stone looked like a large tongue. You felt, rather 
than saw, that by the side of it there was an open- 
ing, an abyss, hidden by plants, such as Don 
Quixote had to cut away when he slid into the 
cavern of Montesinos. 

Nela seemed never tired of looking. 

" Why do you say that the horrible Trascava 
looks pretty ?" asked Pablo. 

" Because it is so full of flowers. Last week 
they were all dead and over, but now they have 
bloomed afresh, and it really is lovely to look 
at. And there are such numbers of birds there, 
and of butterflies too, sucking honey from the 
flowers. Choto, Choto, come here do not 
frighten the poor little birds." 

The dog, who had run down the slope, came 


galloping back at Nela's call, and the fluttering 
republic of birds returned to take possession of 
their common property. 

" I have a perfect horror of the place," said 
Pablo, pulling the girl's arm. " Now, shall we go 
as far as the mines ? I know the way there, and 
feel on my own ground ; we will go round behind 
el Barco. Choto, go on in front, do not get 
under my feet." 

They went down a path cut into steps and soon 
reached the basin formed by digging out the earth 
and ore. Leaving the zone of vegetation, they 
suddenly crossed the boundary line of a geologi- 
cal zone, so to speak, an enormous trench, whose 
sides, wrought by the pick and shovel, displayed 
an interesting section of stratification, where the 
different layers showed the greatest variety of 
colors and earths. This was the place where 
Teodoro Golfin had fancied himself in the hull of 
a wrecked vessel, worn away by the waves and 
its popular name el Barco (the ship), had been 
suggested by that very resemblance. By day, 
however, the spectator was chiefly struck by the 
sections of the strata with their sulphurous and 
carboniferous veins, black sedimentary deposits, 
lignites, in which jet frequently occurred, streaks 
of ferruginous earth that looked as if they had 


been mixed with blood, and large, even layers of 
slate, split in a thousand places by human devices, 
bristling with splinters and riven into fissures and 
clefts, looking like wounds seen through a strong 
magnifier; while a thread of water t stained with 
oxide of iron, that flowed down the middle, might 
be taken for blood. 

"Where is our seat ?" asked the young man. 
" Let us go there ; we shall be sheltered from the 

Out of the bottom of the gre^t cutting they 
went up by a rough foot-path, that had been made 
between broken stones and earth overgrown with 
rank fennel, and at the top they sat down under the 
shelter of an enormous crag, rent across the middle. 
The two halves of the rock, standing opposite each 
other, with their jagged faces, looked for all the 
world like two yawning jaws trying to meet and 

"How pleasant it is here!" Pablo said. 
" Sometimes there is a disagreeable draught 
through this chasm, but I do not feel it to-day. 
What we hear is the trickling water down inside 
the bowels of La Trascava." 

" It is very quiet to-day," observed Nela. 
" Would you like to lie down ?" 

"That is a good idea ! Last night I could not 


sleep, for thinking of all my father had said to me, 
of the doctor, of my eyes. All night I felt as if 
a hand went into my eyes and opened a closed 
and moss-grown door." As he spoke he stretched 
himself at full length and laid his head on Nela's 

" A door," he went on, " which was quite in 
my inmost feeling, opened, as I tell you, showing 
a way into a room where the idea that haunts me 
was shut up. Oh ! Nela of my heart, best beloved, 
idolized darling, if only God would grant me the 
sense I lack. Then I should think myself the 
happiest of men for I am almost that already, 
merely from having you to be the friend and com- 
panion of my life. Very little is needed to make 
us two one nothing but to see you and rejoice in 
your beauty, with that joy in seeing which I can- 
not even comprehend, since I have only a vague 
conception of it. I have a questioning spirit only 
because I have no power to see for myself. I fancy 
it will be like a new way of loving you. I think 
of nothing but your beauty, still, there is some- 
thing in it which I cannot realize as my own." 

" Hark !" said Nela suddenly, with evident in- 
terest in something quite distinct from what her 
friend was saying. " Do not you hear ?" 

" What ?" 


"Down in there La Trascava it is talk- 

" Superstitious child ! water cannot talk, my 
Nela. What language could a driblet of water 
speak ? There are but two things which speak, 
my sweet: the tongue and the conscience." 

" And La Trascava," said Nela, turning paler. 
"It is a whisper only : 'Yes, yes, yes, 1 it says. And 
sometimes I can hear my mother's voice, saying 
quite plainly. ' My little girl, it is very pleasant 
down here.' ' 

" It is all your fancy. Well, fancy talks too ; I 
forgot that. My imagination sometimes chatters so 
fast, that I have to tell it to be silent. Its 
voice is loud, persistent, intolerable ; that of con- 
science is deep, calm, convincing ; there is no an- 
swering or refuting it." 

" Now it sounds as if it were crying," said 
Nela, still listening to the bubbling water. " It is 
dying away little by little." 

Suddenly a light gust came up from the 

"There, it sighed deeply did not you hear ? 
Now I hear the voice again ; it is speaking low, 
and it says to me in a whisper, a tiny whisper in 
my ear. ..." 

" Well, what does it say ?" 


" Nothing," said Maria shortly, after a pause. 
"You say it is all nonsense you may be 

" I will get all these absurd ideas out of your 
head," said the blind youth taking her hand. " We 
are going to live together all our lives. Oh ! 
Heavenly Father ! If I am never to enjoy the 
blessing of which Thou didst deprive me at my 
birth, why hast Thou allowed me to hope ? Hapless 
wretch that I am, if I am not born anew under the 
hands of Doctor Golfin. A new birth indeed a 
new life ! Oh ! my darling, I swear to you by the 
image of God that exists in my soul, glorious, real 
and immutable, that you and I will never part by 
my will. I shall have eyes, Nela, eyes to delight 
in your presence, and then I will marry you. You 
will be my beloved wife life of my life, and the 
joy and pride of my soul. And do you say 
nothing to this even ?" 

Nela bent her head down over the lad's hand- 
some face ; she wished to speak, but could not 
for emotion. 

" And if God will not after all vouchsafe me 
this mercy," added Pablo, " still you will not leave 
me, still you will be my wife unless it horrifies 
you to think of marrying a blind man. Indeed, my 
dearest, I ought not to inflict such a burden on you. 


You will meet some good man who will love you, and 
who will make you happy. Your wonderful kind- 
ness, your noble feelings, your sweet face, must 
win many hearts and inspire the purest love in all 
who have to do with you your future cannot fail 
to be bright and happy. I swear to you that I 
shall love you as long as I live ; seeing or blind, I 
devote myself to you before God in the fullest, 
most perfect, and most unbounded love. Will 
you not speak to me, Nela ?" 

"Yes I love you dearly very, very dearly . ." 
said Nela, putting her face close to his. " But do 
not be anxious to see me. Perhaps I am not so 
nice as you fancy." 

As she spoke, Nela felt in her pocket and 
brought out a piece of silvered glass, a dull and 
useless fragment of a cheap mirror, which had 
heen broken a week since in the Centeno house- 
hold. In this she looked at herself. The image 
was all awry, and in consequence of the small 
size of the looking-glass she was obliged to study 
it a bit at a time, first one eye and then her fore- 
head, till, holding it farther off, she could com- 
mand a view of half her face at once. But alas ! 
the result of her investigations was sad enough 
as she looked in the glass, the tears started from 
her eyes. 


" Nela, I felt a drop on my forehead it is 

" Yes, my child, it seems to be raining," said 
Nela with a gulping sob. 

"No^ you are crying. Something in my 
heart tells me so. You are goodness itself; your 
soul and mine are united by some divine and 
mysterious bond; they can never be parted is it 
not true? they are two halves of one whole. 
Are they not ?" 

"Quite true." 

"Your tears give me a plainer answer than 
words could. You love me do you not, and 
will always love me, just the same whether I re- 
cover my sight or remain blind ?" 

"The same, just the same!" cried Nela vehe- 
mently. ^ 

" And will always stay with me ?" 


"Then listen," cried the blind lad in passionate 
rapture. " If I had to choose between remaining 
blind and losing you, I would choose. ..." 

" You would choose to remain blind ! Oh ! 
merciful Mother of Heaven ! how happy how 
happy I am !" 

" I would choose not to see your sweet face 
with these eyes, for I can see it in my soul as 


clearly as truth. You live here, in my heart, and 
to me you are more lovely and enchanting than 
anything on earth." 

" Oh ! yes, yes," cried Nela half-crazed. " I 
must be beautiful I must be lovely !" 

" Listen," said Pablo, " I have a presentiment, 
a sure anticipation. It is as though the voice of 
God within me promised me that I should have 
my sight, that I shall see you, that we shall be 
happy. Do you not feel it yourself?" 

" I yes, I feel sure you will see. ..." 

" I shall see your face what happiness !" 
cried the blind boy in the high-pitched ecstatic 
tone, which was peculiar to him in moments of 
excitement. "But I see it already, I see it now 
in my heart as plainly as the truth in my 

" Yes, yes, oh ! yes," Nela repeated wildly, 
with wide-open eyes and quivering lips. " It is 
true, I am, I must be, beautiful !" 

" Bless you, sweet one !" 

" And you," she said gravely, kissing his fore- 
head. " Now, are you not sleepy ?" 

" Yes, I am beginning to be sleepy. I did not 
sleep all night. And I am so comfortable here." 

" Then sleep, my child. ..." 

And she began to sing a lullaby. In a few 



minutes he was asleep ; but Nela sat listening to 
the voice of La Trascava, which said : " Daugh- 
ter come . . . daughter come." 



TEODORO GOLFIN did not waste his time at 
Socarte. The first day after his arrival he spent 
several hours in his brother's laboratory, and dur- 
ing the following days he went from one part of 
the mines to another, examining and admiring all 
he saw here the awful might of natural forces, 
and there the power and enterprise of human skill. 
At night, when all was still in the busy village, 
and nothing was awake but the snorting furnaces, 
the worthy doctor, who was an enthusiastic musi- 
cian, listened with delight to his sister-in-law's 
piano ; Senora Sofia, was Don Carlos' wife, but 
their children were all dead. 

The two brothers were devotedly attached to 
each other. Born in the humblest rank of life, 
they had struggled hard in early youth to rise 
above ignorance and poverty, often on the point of 
giving way to the difficulties that beset them ; but 
the impetus of manly determination was so strong 


in them, that at length, gasping for breath, they 
reached the longed-for land, rising superior to the 
beating waves in which vulgar souls splash and 
struggle in a perpetual state of shipwreck. 

Teodoro, who was the eldest, was a medical 
man before Carlos was qualified as an engineer, 
and he helped him to the utmost so long as the 
younger brother needed it, and when he saw him 
fairly started, he took the step to which his enter- 
prising spirit had long aspired, and set out for 
South America. There he practised with other 
celebrated physicians, gaining fame and wealth. 
After a short visit at home, in Spain, he returned 
to the New World, and even after a second voyage 
home he went back again ; but during each of 
these expeditions he made a short tour in Europe 
to avail himself of the advances made in ophthal- 
mic science which he particularly cultivated. 

He was a man of unpolished manners, 
dark and with an expression at once intelli- 
gent and sensual ; his lips were thick, his 
skin opaque and hairy, his eyes bright and 
keen ; his frame was robust and his constitution 
sound, though somewhat injured by the South 
American climate. His large, round face, his 
prominent brow, his short, rebellious hair, the flash 
of his eyes and his thick, square hands, had led to 



his being spoken of as "the black lion." In truth, 
he was like a lion, and like the king of beasts, he 
never lost an opportunity of asserting the estima- 
tion in which he held himself. However, this 
vanity of a really distinguished man was the most 
pardonable of vanities, for it consisted chiefly 
in his persistently displaying his two great 
titles of fame and honor, namely : his devotion 
to surgery and the lowness of his origin. He spoke 
incorrectly, from his utter inability to elaborate 
phrases with ease and elegance. His rapid and 
broken sentences followed the course of his ideas, 
which were as swift as the electric spark. 

" We," Teodoro would say, " although we 
have sprung from the grass by the way-side, which 
is the lowest origin conceivable, have grown into 
stalwart trees. Long live labor and human enter- 
prise ! I cannot but think that we Golfins, though 
Heaven knows where we came from, must have 
some English blood in our veins. Even our name 
seems to me to be of purely Saxon origin. I give 
it this etymology, Gold-find, or, as you may say, 
Gold-finders. Well, and my brother finds it in 
the bowels of the earth, while I find it in that 
marvellous miniature universe : the human eye." 

At the period of our story he had just arrived 
via New York and Liverpool, and, as he declared, 


he now meant to remain at home ; but no one be- 
lieved it, for he had said so many times before and 
had not kept his word. 

His brother Carlos was a gentler being, placid, 
studious, a slave to his duties, and devoted to 
mineralogy and metallurgy to the point of caring 
far more for these two branches of learning than 
for his wife's society. But the couple lived, never- 
theless, in perfect harmony ; or, as Teodoro said, 
in an isomorphous state, crystallizing on the same 
system. As for himself, when matrimony was 
spoken of, he would say: 

"To me, marriage would be an epigenesis, a 
pseudo-morphous crystallization, that is to say, a 
mode of crystallization which would not har- 
monize with my nature." 

Sofia was a very good woman, who had been 
very handsome, but whose beauty was daily los- 
ing character and expression from her unfortunate 
tendency to stoutness. She had been told that an 
atmosphere charged with coal smoke had a ten- 
dency to reduce fat, and for this reason she had 
come to live at the mines, without ever leaving them 
the whole year through. The horrible air, charged 
with dust, calamine and smoke, annoyed her 
much however. She had no child alive, and her 
principal occupation consisted in playing the 


piano and in organizing societies of benevolent 
ladies for giving the poor help in their homes, and 
for maintaining hospitals and schools. 

At Madrid, for many years her energy had 
been prodigious, a real model for all who feel 
prompted to acts of charity. With the help of two 
or three ladies of rank, equally devoted to their 
humble and suffering neighbors, she had organized 
more than twenty dramatic performances, and as 
many fancy balls, six bull-fights and two cock- 
fights, all for the benefit of the poor. 

Among her other manias, which were apt to 
be but transient, however, was one which perhaps 
is less commendable than that for helping the 
needy, and which consisted in surrounding herself 
with dogs and cats, devoting herself to these ani- 
mals with an affection really worthy to be calkd 
love. Lately, since she had lived at Socartes, she 
had kept a toy- terrier which had been brought 
to her as a commission from England by Ulises 
Buli, the head of the machinery department. 
This was a delicate and slender creature, as tricky 
and amusing as a child. It was called Lili, and 
had cost a small fortune in London as dogs go. 

On fine days the trio walked out together ; 
when it was wet they played and sang, for Sofia 
had a modest pipe which, at Socartes, passed for 


singing. The deputy engineer had a deep bass 
voice, and Teodoro likewise was basso profondo. 
Carlos could sing but a little higher, so that the 
whole effect was somewhat like a priestly choir, in 
which Sofia's treble came out as if she were a 
priestess being carried off to be immolated. All 
the pieces they sang were or at any rate 
sounded like priests offering a sacrifice, and a 
priestess being sacrificed. 

On the days when they walked far they took 
with them a sort of picnic afternoon meal. One 
evening it was at the end of September, and six 
days after the doctor's arrival at the mines the 
party were returning homewards in the following 
order : Lili, Sofia, Teodoro, Carlos. The path was 
too narrow to allow of their walking two and two. 
Lili wore a little sky-blue coat or gaberdine with 
his mistress's initials worked upon it; Sofia carried 
her parasol like a gun over her shoulder, and Teo- 
doro had his stick in precisely the same position 
with his hat hanging on the end of it ; it was one 
of his favorite whims to walk out bare-headed. 
They were passing above La Trascava when Lili, 
leaving the path, with his elastic little legs like 
springs, began to run on the turf that covered the 
slope to the chasm. First he ran, but then he 
slipped on the grass. Sofia gave a cry of terror. 


Her first impulse, prompted by an almost ma- 
ternal feeling, was to run after the little beast that 
was in no real danger; but her husband stopped 
her, saying : " The devil may have Lili if he 
wants him but he will come back. It is impos- 
sible to go down, the turf here is so slippery." 

" Lili, Lili," cried Sofia, hoping that her touch- 
ing appeal would arrest the creature on the road 
to perdition, and bring him back to the path of 
virtue and duty. But the tenderest adjurations 
had no effect on the rebellious soul of Lili, who 
went lower and lower. From time to time he 
looked up at his mistress with his bright, black 
eyes, which seemed to say : " For mercy's sake 
do not be so foolish." 

At the large, moss-grown, white rock, which 
lay like a lid at the very mouth of the chasm, Lili 
stopped. All stood with their eyes fixed on the 
spot, and they at once perceived something mov- 
ing there. They supposed it to be some beast of 
prey hiding behind the rock ; but Sofia gave 
another shriek of astonishment rather than of 
terror, and exclaimed : 

"It is Nela. Nela what are you doing 
there ?" 

On hearing her name called, the girl appeared 
greatly disturbed, and colored deeply. 


"What are you doing there, mad child ?" re- 
peated the lady. "Take up Lili and bring him 
back to me. Heaven have mercy on us ! but what 
next will that creature be doing ? Just look at 
the place she has put herself in ! It is all your 
fault that Lili went down there what an exam- 
ple to set the poor little animal. It is all your 
fault that he behaved in this naughty, wilful 

" That child is a perfect limb of mischief," said 
Don Carlos to his brother. " Only look at the 
place she has got to." 

While, on the top of the slope, they were thus 
discussing her, Nela, down at the bottom, was try- 
ing to catch Lili, who, more wilful and daring than 
he had ever been before in the whole course of 
his monotonous existence, constantly eluded her 
grasp. His mistress shouted to him in vain to " be 
good and behave himself," while he, ignoring the 
most elementary principles of duty, went on leap- 
ing and frisking, looking up at her, from time to 
time, with consummate impudence, as though to 
say : " My good lady, just go on with your walk 
and leave me in peace." 

At last ; however, the sportive little beast got 
entangled among the briars which grew in the hol- 
low, and there his little great-coat got him into dire 


trouble ; the poor dog, finding it impossible to es- 
cape from the brushwood, began to bark lamenta- 
bly for help. 

" He will be lost, he will be killed !" wailed the 
Senora. " Nela, Nela, if you will only save him, 
I will give you a fine, big dog. Save him go 
carefully hold fast." 

Nela went boldly to the rescue ; setting her 
foot on the brambles and stout-stemmed creepers 
that grew over the rift, and holding on by one 
hand to the rock, she put out the other to take 
hold of Lili's tail, by which she pulled him out of 
the tangle in which he had been caught Then, 
patting and coaxing him, she mounted in triumph 
to the top of the slope. 

" It is your fault, all your fault," said Sofia 
crossly, and boxing the dog's ears very gently. 
" What on earth made you go down into that hole 
you know he goes after you wherever he finds 
you hussy that you are !" 

And then she kissed her recovered treasure 
and gave him one or two mild slaps, and after 
having assured herself that his precious skin was 
whole, she pulled his little coat straight, which had 
got dragged over his head, and gave him to Nela, 
saying : 

" Take him, and carry him in your arms, for he 


must be tired, and such a long scamper may do 
him harm. But take care of him go on in front. 
Take great care of him you see I am close 
behind to keep an eye on you." 

The family party set out again, with Nela 
leading the way. Lili looked at his mistress over 
Nela's shoulder, and seemed to say : " My good 
mistress, what a simpleton you are !" 

Teodoro Golfin had said not a word during the 
whole of Lili's agitating escapade, but when they 
had started on their way once more and were 
crossing the fields, where the three could walk 
abreast without inconvenience, the doctor said to 
his brother's wife : 

" I cannot but think, dear Sofia, that you are 
unreasonably devoted to the little dog. To be 
sure a dog that cost two hundred duros, is indeed 
a dog among dogs. Still, I cannot but ask my- 
self how it is that you have spent time and money 
in making a great-coat for his highness the terrier, 
while it has never occurred to you to buy a pair of 
shoes for Nela." 

" Shoes for Nela !" exclaimed Sofia laughing. 
" What for, I should like to know. She would have 
worn them through in two days. You may laugh 
at me as much as you please well, I admit that 
my affection for Lili amounts to an extravagance ; 


still, you cannot accuse me of want of charity. 
Noiv indeed, I must say, should I ever allow you 
to take such a liberty," and as she spoke she drew 
herself up with a solemn look of offended dignity. 
" As to knowing how to exercise charity with due 
prudence and judgment, I believe I may hold my 
own with any one, be it whom it may for charity 
does not consist merely in giving without rhyme 
or reason, not knowing whether your alms are 
well or ill-bestowed. Do you suppose you can 
teach me anything ? My dear Teodoro, I am quite 
as experienced in such matters as you are in the 
treatment of eyes." 

"I know, I know, my dear. You have done 
wonders. You need not tell me for the fiftieth time 
of all the dramatic entertainments, balls and bull- 
fights, you have got up for the benefit of the poor, 
nor of the lotteries, which have brought in large 
sums ; though, after providing food for any num- 
ber of idle vagabonds, there has been but a small 
fraction left for the sick and suffering ! All these 
facts only go to prove to my mind the singular 
state of a society, which cannot be charitable 
without dancing, bull-fights or lottery tickets. 
No, we need not discuss all that ; I know and ad- 
mire those heroic achievements ; they have their 
good side, and that not a small one. But you and 


your gay friends very rarely put yourself in connec- 
tion with any poor soul, to learn from his own lips 
the cause and history of his misery, or to discern 
what kind of wretchedness it is that oppresses him 
for there are, actually, some troubles so extraor- 
dinary that the gift of a few coppers can do 
nothing to alleviate them, no, nor even a morsel of 

" Here we have our philosopher well astride 
on his hobby," said Sofia spitefully. " Pray how 
do you know what I have ever done, or what I 
ought to do ?" 

" Nay, do not be vexed," said Golfin; " for all 
my discourse tends to a single point, and that is 
that Nela should have shoes." 

"Very well, then to-morrow morning I will 
buy her a pair." 

" No for I will buy them myself this evening. 
Do not poach on my preserves, Senora." 

" Here Nela," cried the lady, seeing that she 
had gone some distance ahead. " Do not go so 
fast ; keep in sight that I may see what you are 

" Poor little creature !" said her husband. 
" Who could guess she was sixteen years 
old !" 

" She is dreadfully stunted, miserable little 


thing !" exclaimed Sofia. " I cannot help asking, 
why God should permit such creatures to live ? 
And again I ask myself, what in the world can be 
done for her ? Nothing nothing, but to feed 
and clothe her after a fashion but you see, she 
tears everything she puts on. She cannot labor 
because she faints away she has not strength 
enough to do any kind of Work. She skips from 
stone to stone, or climbs the trees, playing and 
chattering the whole day long and singing like the 
birds ; what clothes she has are soon reduced to 
rags. . . ." 

"And yet," said Carlos, "I have noticed that 
she is very intelligent. There is a great deal of 
acuteness and cleverness under that simple exterior 
and wild rusticity. No, no, Nela is no fool by a 
long way. If any one had taken the trouble to 
teach her anything, she would have learnt it better, 
perhaps, than most children. Would you believe 
it ? Nela has a great imagination ; but lacking, as 
she does, the most rudimentary knowledge, it has 
of course, made her sentimental and super- 

" In point of fact she is in the condition of all 
primitive races," said Teodoro. " She is at the 
pastoral stage of civilization." 

" Only yesterday," Carlos went on, " I was 


passing by La Trascava and I saw her sitting ex- 
actly where we found her again just now. I called 
her and made her come to me, and I asked her 
what she was doing there ; and with the most per- 
fect simplicity she told me she was talking with 
her mother. You know, perhaps, that Nela's 
mother threw herself into that chasm." 

" That is to say that she killed herself," said 
Sofia. " She was a woman of bad character and 
worse feeling, from all I have heard of her. Carlos 
was not living here then, but they say she drank like 
a stoker. And I ask you : Do these vile creatures, 
who end a. life of sin by committing the greatest 
crime of all Suicide deserve any pity from the 
human race ? There are things too horrible to 
contemplate wretches that ought never to have 
been born. Teodoro may argue as much as he 
likes, but I cannot help asking you. ..." 

" Ask nothing, my dear sister," said Teodoro 
warmly. " For I could only reply that the suicide 
deserves our deepest and fullest pity. So far as 
abuse goes, heap it on her by all means, and as 
much as you please ; but at the same time it might 
be as well to enquire what were the causes that 
brought her to such a fearful extremity of despera- 
tion and I may add that if society had not 
wholly abandoned her and left her no way out but 


the yawning door of that hideous abyss which 
seemed to invite her. ..." 

" Abandoned by society ! Well, some must 
be. . . ." said Sofia flippantly. "Society cannot take 
care of every one. Look at the statistics of popu- 
lation only look, and you will see how many 
poor there are to provide for. Besides, supposing 
society does overlook some what is religion 
for ?" 

" I am speaking of those poor wretches who 
add to all their other miseries, ignorance, which is 
the greatest of all. An ignorant soul, debased and 
superstitious, has none but the vaguest and ab- 
surdest ideas of God. The sense of something 
Great and Unknown, instead of withholding him, 
impels him to crime. It is* rarely indeed that the 
thought of religion is of any good to those who 
vegetate in stolid ignorance. No intelligent friend 
ever goes near them, neither master nor priest ; 
the only superior they ever come into contact 
with, is the judge who tries them. 

" It is strange to see how inexorably you con- 
demn what, after all, is your own work !" he went 
on, twisting the stick on which his hat was still 
mounted. " You stand looking straight before 
you, seeing at the very threshold of your own 
comfortable homes a crowd of neglected creatures, 


deprived of everything that childhood needs, from 
parents to playthings you see them, I say, with- 
out its ever occurring to you to raise them an inch 
in the world, by telling them that they too are 
human beings, and giving them some of the ideas 
they so deplorably lack, without ever dreaming of 
ennobling them by lifting them out of their brutal- 
izing, mechanical toil, to some intelligent work ; 
you see them dwelling in filthy hovels, ill-fed, sink- 
ing lower day by day in their savage squalor, and 
it never occurs to you to spare for them a little of 
the comfort and luxury that surround you ! You 
save all your energies to declaim against murder, 
robbery and suicide, without ever reflecting that 
you are, in fact, keeping open school for these 
three crimes." 

" You seem to forget that there are houses of 
refuge, hospitals, asylums. ..." said Sofia tartly. 
" Read statistics, Teodoro, and you will see the 
number of miserable creatures. . . . Read statistics." 

" I do not read statistics, my dear sister, and 
your statistics count for nothing with me. Asylums 
are good not that they can ever solve the great 
problem of orphanage. A hapless orphan, drop- 
ped in the streets or in the fields, bereft of all 
personal affection, and cared for only by a town 
council rarely, indeed, is the vacuum filled which 



yawns in his soul for the love of a parent not to 
speak of the vacuum where self-respect, honor, 
and responsibility ought to be, and so rarely are 
found. And on that point I have an idea of my 
own but, perhaps, it will appear to you ab- 
surd " 

"Tell us, at any rate." 

" The problem of orphanhood, and the mis- 
eries of infancy, will never be completely and 
finally solved, any more than the rest of our great 
social problems ; still, it will be lightened when 
custom, supported by law yes, by law, you see 
I am in earnest when custom and law insist that 
every orphan, whatever its birth do not laugh 
has a right to claim adoption by some married 
couple in easy circumstances, and who have no 
children. By this plan, there will be no childless 
parents, and no fatherless children." 

" Yes, by this. plan," retorted Sofia, "we should 
be parents to Nela !" 

" And why not ?" said Teodoro. " At the same 
time you would not waste two hundred duros in 
buying a dog, nor the livelong blessed day in talk- 
ing nonsense to his highness, Master Lili." 

"And why are rich bachelors to be exempt 
under this delightful law ? Why should not they 
also be burthened, each with his orphan ?" 


" I have no objection. . . ." said the doctor; he 
was looking at the ground. " But what is this ? 

Blood ?" 

They all looked down, and at regular intervals 
they saw small spots of blood. 

" Mercy !" cried Sofia, covering her eyes. " It 
is Nela see, it is where she has trodden ; these 
are her footmarks." 

" Oh yes ! I see. It was when she went into 
the brambles to fetch your precious dog. Nela, 
come here." 

Nela, whose right foot was bleeding a good 
deal, came hobbling back again. 

" Give me my poor Lili," said the lady, taking 
the dog out of the ragged child's arms. " Do not 
hurt him ; does it hurt you much ? Poor little 
thing. Oh! how it is bleeding. I cannot bear 
to look at it." And Sofia turned her back to 
spare her sensitive nerves, hugging Lili more 

" Let us see what has happened," said Teo- 
doro, lifting Nela up and seating her on a high 
stone that was at hand. Then, putting on his 
spectacles, he said : "It is quite a trifle, only a few 
scratches ; there is a thorn in here I rather think. 
That hurts you ? Yes, just so, here is the vil- 
lain. Wait a minute. Now, Sofia if you cannot 



look on at a surgical operation, you had better 
walk on." 

While his sister went slowly forward to save 
her nervous system this terrible shock, Golfin took 
a small case out of his pocket and a pair of 
tweezers out of the case, and in less than a wink- 
ing the thorn was extracted. 

"That is a brave little woman," he said to 
Nela, who had not even winced. " Now we will 
tie this foot up." And he bound it round with 
his handkerchief. Marianela jumped down to 
walk and Carlos offered her his hand. 

"No, no come here," said Teodoro. He 
took the little girl under the arms, and with a rapid 
and dexterous twist perched her on his right 

" If you do not feel safe hold on to my hair," 
he said. " It will not come off. Now, you must 
carry the stick with the hat." 

" What a ridiculous sight !" said Sofia, in fits of 
laughter as they came up with her. " Teodoro, 
with Nela on his shoulder, and then the stick and 
Gessler's hat on the top. ..." 




" THERE you see a man ready for anything 
and everything, my dear Sofia," said Teodoro. 
" It is the result of our education, is it not, 
Carlos ? of having had no coddling in our child- 
hood, and having been accustomed from our ten- 
derest infancy to the idea that no one could be 
our inferior ? Men who have made themselves, 
as we have done, who, without any mortal help nor 
any safeguard but strong will and high ambition, 
have been able to triumph in the struggle for exist- 
ence the devil's in it, but they are the only people 
who really know how to help the helpless ! I will 
not tell you half the things I have been able to 
do in my life treating my neighbor as myself 
for fear of falling into an ugly trick of singing my 
own praises ; for fear too of making you envious, 
in spite of your raffles and benevolent lotteries 
enough of that." 

"Nay, tell us, or tell us some other time." 
" No, no, such things should be kept secret for 
modesty's sake. I am bound to confess that I 
cannot boast of any considerable store of that 


lovely grace ; I am not lacking in vanity, and one 
of the things I am vainest of, is of having been a 
beggar, of having asked charity from door to 
door, of having walked barefoot with my brother 
Carlos, and slept in corners under door- ways, with- 
out a roof, without shelter, without a home of any 
kind. Some wonderful spirit of energy and de- 
termination burned within me whence it came I 
know not ; but I felt that before us lay two paths, 
one to prison and one to glory. I took my poor 
little brother on my shoulders just as I am car- 
rying Nela and I said : ' Our Father which art 
in Heaven save us!' And he saved us. I learnt 
to read, and then I taught my brother ; I served 
many masters, who gave me food and let me go 
to school. I saved my pittance. I bought a 
money-box, and scraped enough together to buy 
some books. How I began medicine, I do not 
know ; but somehow I did, while my brother was 
earning a living as an errand boy in a shop." 

"What are you talking about?" exclaimed 
Sofia much annoyed, for this was a theme she 
particularly disliked. " I cannot help asking ; 
what is the use of recalling all these childish de- 
tails ? Besides, you exaggerate them greatly." 

" I exaggerate nothing," said Teodoro with 
triumphant jollity. " Just listen, Senora, and say 


nothing. I speak of what I know with the author- 
ity of experience. Hear me all ye poor, all ye 
helpless ones, and ye forsaken little ones ! I took 
to medicine, God knows how; I learnt, God knows 
how. A worthy man blessings on his memory! 
gave me good counsel and helped me with money ; 
I loved the science, but how could I study without 
ceasing to work for my living ? This was a terri- 
ble dilemma. Do you remember, Carlos, when 
we both went to ask for employment in the bar- 
ber's shop, in the old calle de Cofreros ? * Never 
in our lives had either of us had a razor in his hand, 
but we had to earn our bread by shaving. At first 
we only looked on do you remember Carlos 
and then we wielded the noble instruments our- 
selves. Bleeding was the making of us. Then I 
began to study anatomy ; a noble, a glorious 
science ! but my school- work became a serious 
matter, and I had to give up working for the 
worthy barber. He cried, positively cried, the day 
I left him ; he gave me two duros, and his wife 
made me a present of a pair of her husband's old 
trousers. Then I went as a valet. God was always 
merciful in giving me good masters. My love of 
study interested these dear, kind people, and they 
allowed me as much spare time as possible. I sat 

* Trunkmaker's street. 


up to study; nay, I studied in my sleep. I was like 
a monomaniac, for while I did the washing, I re- 
peated the names of the different parts of the human 
frame. I remember, that as I brushed my master's 
clothes, I studied muscular anatomy as I folded 
a sleeve I would say to myself: 'deltoid, biceps, 
supinator, fie x or, cubitalis ; ' and over his trousers 
I would repeat, 'glutaeus, psoas, gemellus, tibialis. ' 
'In that house they used to give me broken food, 
which I carried to my brother, who was living 
with a worthy man who bought and sold old 
clothes. Do you remember, Carlos ?" 

" I remember well," said Carlos with feeling. 
" And I am grateful to the good soul who gave 
me a roof over my head in return for some trifling 
service in keeping his accounts. And it was there 
that I was so lucky as to come across the retired 
Colonel, who taught me the elements of mathe- 

" Well ! you have not a rag that you blush to 
display to all the world !" snorted Sofia. 

" My brother asked me for bread," Teodoro 
went coolly on, "and my answer was: 'Bread ? 
work at mathematics.' One day my master gave 
me tickets of admission to the Theatre de la Cruz ; 
I took my brother, and we enjoyed it enormously, 
but- Carlos caught a cold and inflammation of the 


lungs. That was a dreadful, a terrible business ; 
it was a blow at the very root of our exis- 
tence, a shot in our backbone. But who is cast 
down ? On we had to go. He must be cured. 
A physician who had taken a great fancy to me, 
undertook to doctor him." 

" It was nothing less than a miracle that he 
saved my life in that squalid hole a perfect 
museum of old clothes, old iron, and old 

" God was on our side I see it plainly. Oh ! 
I knew very well in whom I trusted," Teodoro 
went on, with the fervid rapid eloquence, which 
was as characteristic of the man, as his black elf- 
locks and leonine countenance. " But, for my 
brother to have medicine, I had to do without 
clothes. The Pharmacopeia did not admit of 
tailors' bills nay, prescription after prescription 
first my cloak went, then my overcoat, then my 
shoes were turned into pills. However, my mas- 
ter stood by me. I got some clothes once more, 
and my brother was outside the house again. The 
doctor said : ' He will get quite well in the coun- 
try.' 'The country,' said I, and I thought it 
over ; then he may go to the School of Mines. 
My brother was a good mathematician, I taught 
him some chemistry, he soon took a fancy to 


rocks and stones, and before he went into the 
school he had begun going out into the fields to 
pick up pebbles. Well, I meanwhile went on my 
way, beaten by winds and waves ; every day I 
knew something more of medicine. A famous 
operator took me as his assistant ; then I was no 
longer a mere menial I was a servant to science. 
My master fell ill, I nursed him like a Brother of 
Charity but he died, leaving me a legacy. God 
bless me ! but it was a fortune ! It consisted of a 
walking-stick, a machine for making cigars, a 
hunting-horn, and four thousand reales in money. 
My brother bought books and I bought some 
clothes, and as soon as I was decently dressed, I 
began to get patients. It really seemed as if folks 
fell ill on purpose to give me employment. On 
straight on ! Years and years went by ; at last, 
after many miseries I saw, far off, the way to a 
refuge. Still, my brother and I sailed on without 
any too severe toil, and we were never melancholy; 
God smiled upon our souls. Well, indeed, for us! 
God held out his hand to us, as it were. I began 
to study the eye and soon could operate for cata- 
ract, but I wanted something more than this. I 
was earning money, no doubt, but my brother 
cost me all I earned. At last, however, Carlos 
passed out of the schools. Three cheers for the 


brave none but the brave fain the day. I saw 
him settled at Riotinto with a good salary, and 
then off I went to America. I was a sort of 
Columbus, the Columbus of labor ; a sort of 
Cortes ; I discovered a New World for myself, and 
having discovered it, I conquered it." 

" You are your own trumpeter," said Sofia 

" If there are still heroes to be found you are 
one of them," said Carlos with eager admiration 
for his brother. 

" Well, set to work now, noble Demi-god," said 
Sofia, " crown your achievement by working a 
miracle, and restore to sight a man blind from his 
birth. Look, there is Don Francisco coming out 
to meet us." 

And, in fact, mounting the ridge which shuts 
in the mines to the west, they had come to Aldea- 
corba, and past the house of Penaguilas, who, 
pulling on his coat in the utmost haste now came 
hurrying towards them. Darkness was falling 




" THE cows are just being milked," he began, 
without wishing them good-evening. " I thought 
you would all like some milk. I hope to see you 
well, Sefiora Sofia and you Don Teodoro. The 
sight of you is good for sore eyes. But what is 
the matter with Maria Canela a little lame paw ? 
How long have you been so spoiled, little one ?" 

The whole party turned into the court- yard. 
They could hear the deep lowing of the cows, 
which had just been driven to their stables, and 
the homely sound, with the fresh country smell of 
the hay, which the laborers were carrying from 
the lofts, soothed the senses and the mind. The 
doctor seated Nela on a stone bench, while she, 
speechless with surprise and respect, dared not 
budge an inch, but could only wonder at this de- 
lightful state of things. 

" And where is Pablo ?" the engineer enquired. 

" He is just gone down into the garden," said 
Senor de Penaguilas, as he offered Sofia a rustic 
seat. ".You might run off and join him Nela." 

" No, no, I do not wish her to go yet," said 


Teodoro detaining her. " Besides, she is going to 
have some milk with us." 

" Do you wish to see my son this evening ?" 
asked Penaguilas. 

" No, yesterday's examination was quite satis- 
factory," replied Golfin. " The operation can be 

" And successfully ?" 

" Ah ! as to that I cannot say. How great 
a pleasure it would be to give sight to a young 
fellow who so richly deserves it, I need not tell 
you ! Your son has a most superior intelligence, 
a brilliant imagination, and a most delightful 
nature. His total ignorance of the outer, visible 
world, only throws his beautiful qualities into re- 
lief; they stand out in conspicuous simplicity, with 
the naked charm and dignity of a work of Nature, 
untouched and unspoiled by the hand of man. 
He is full of idealism, it affects all his thoughts 
a grand and beautiful idealism. It reminds me of 
a colossal mass of unwrought marble a block as 
it lies in the quarry. He knows nothing of reality, 
he lives a charmed life, a life of pure illusion. If 
we could but give him sight ! Still, I say to my- 
self supposing that by giving him sight we 
should make him a man instead of an angel. It 
is a question that raises doubts in my mind. How- 


ever, we are bound to try to make a man of him ; 
it is the duty of science ; we will drag him out of 
the world of fancy into that of reality, and then, 
with his powerful mind, he would rapidly gain ac- 
curate information and sound judgment. He 
would soon acquire the invaluable power of esti- 
mating the true relative value of things." 

Three cups of milk were now brought in, white, 
warm, fragrant, and frothy to the very rim. 
Penaguilas handed a cup first to Sofia, and the two 
gentlemen took the others; but Teodoro Golfin 
offered his to Nela, who was overwhelmed with 
bashfulness and refused to touch it. 

" Come, little woman," said Sofia, " do not be 
so rude ; take what is given you." 

"Another cup of milk for Don Teodoro," said 
Don Francisco to the servant. And then they 
heard the milk as it flowed into the pails from the 
full udders of the cows. 

" He will appreciate the true relative value of 
things," said Don Francisco, repeating the doctor's 
last words, which had made a deep impression on 
his mind. "That is an admirable observation, 
Don Teodoro. And with regard to the subject 
under discussion, I must explain to you the doubts 
I have felt for some days past. But I may as well 
sit down." And Don Francisco seated himself on 


a stool he had in his hand. The others had al- 
ready been accommodated with chairs brought out 
of the house, and Nela was still perched on the 
stone bench. The milk she had drunk as she was 
bidden had left a thin white moustache on her 
upper lip. 

" I must tell you Don Teodoro that for some 
days I have been very uneasy at the excited state 
in which my son has been ; I attribute it to the 
hope that has been held out to him but still, 
there is something else something more than 
that. You know that I am in the habit of read- 
ing to him out of various books. I believe that 
this reading has done much to fire his imagination 
and instruct his mind, and that many ideas have 
been developed in his brain, which are, as it were, 
above the comprehension of a blind man. I do 
not know whether I am making myself clear." 

" Perfectly." 

" There is no end to his discussions and argu- 
ments ; I am astounded by the depth and acuteness 
of his remarks, though I feel that his knowledge 
is mixed up with a thousand misconceptions, from 
want of method and from his ignorance of the 
visible world." 

"It could not be otherwise." 

" But the strangest thing is that, carried away 


by his imagination which is like a young Her- 
cules fettered with chains within a dungeon, and 
struggling to burst its bonds and break down 
walls " 

" Good, very good, well said." 

" His imagination, I was saying, cannot rest in 
the darkness of his sense, and strives to reach our 
world of daylight, making up for his want of sight 
by the boldness of its assumptions. Pablo has a 
wonderful spirit of enquiry, but it is like a noble 
bird whose wings are clipped. For some few days 
he has been almost delirious ; he does not sleep 
and his passion for information has been almost 
madness. At all hours of the day he asks for 
some new book, and at every pause he makes the 
keenest observations, but with such a mixture of 
simple innocence, that he makes me laugh. He 
asserts and maintains the absurdest things, and if 
I contradict him I am really afraid of his going 
out of his mind of his brain softening. If you 
could only see how melancholy and how disputa- 
tious he sometimes is. He takes up an idea and, 
come what may, it is impossible to get it out of 
his head. Now, for some days, he has had a fixed 
idea, which is as touching as it is preposterous. 
He will have it that Nela is pretty." 

They all laughed, and Nela turned scarlet. 


" That Nela is pretty !" exclaimed Teodoro 
kindly. " Well, and so she is." 

" Oh ! sweetly pretty, particularly with that 
moustache !" said Sofia. 

" She has a dear little face of her own," re- 
peated Teodoro, putting his hand under her chin ; 
" Sofia, lend me your handkerchief. Come, we 
will get rid of the moustache." 

Teodoro returned the handkerchief to Sofia 
after wiping Nela's face. Don Francisco told the 
girl to go and join the blind boy, and she hobbled 

" And if I contradict him," he then went on, 
" my son tells me that, perhaps the gift of sight 
has weakened my perception of the true aspect of 
things a quaiat garadox^" 

" Do not contradict him at all, and for the 
preseht discontinue your readings. For a few days 
we must adopt a regimen of absolute tranquillity. 
The brain must be treated with the utmost con- 
sideration before attempting any operation of this 

" If it is indeed God's will that my son should 
receive his sight," said Penaguilas devoutly, " I 
shall regard you as the greatest and most beneficent 
of men. The darkness of his eyes is the darkness of 
my life; that black shadow has saddened all my 



days, and clouds all the wealth and ease of which I 
am master. For I am rich but of what use are 
riches ? How can I care for the things he cannot 
see. Only a month ago I fell heir to a fine for- 
tune you know, Don Carlos, my cousin Faustino 
died at Matamoros. He had no children, so my 
brother Manuel and I are his heirs. It is throw- 
ing pearls before swine not as regards my 
brother, who has a daughter, a sweet girl, old 
enough to marry but so far as I am con- 
cerned, a wretched man who can never see his son 
enjoy the best pleasures of a respectable and easy 

A long silence followed, interrupted only by the 
gentle lowing of the cows in the adjoining stable. 

" And then," added the worthy father in mel- 
ancholy tones, " he knows nothing of the pleasures 
of work, the greatest pleasure of all. Igndrant, 
as he is, of the beauties of Nature, what can he 
know of the delights of the country or the charms 
of agriculture ? I cannot imagine how God can 
bear to deprive a human creature of the pleasure 
of admiring a fat beast, a tree loaded with pears, 
or a green pasture; of seeing the fruits of the 
earth in their abundance ; of sending out the 
laborers to their day's toil, and reading the signs 
of the weather in the sky. For him life is simply 


a fevered dream it is lonely too ; solitary, for he 
can never have the comfort of a family round 
him. When I die what family will the poor blind 
boy have ? He will not want to marry, nor will he 
find a woman of good family who would engage 
herself to him, in spite of his wealth ; nor, indeed, 
could I advise him to marry. So that when Don 
Teodoro gave me a hope, I felt as if heaven was 
opened to me; I had visions of a young and 
happy and sensible marriage ; cherubs my 
grandchildren fluttered round me; I saw my 
tombstone graced and fragrant with the blossoms 
of a future generation, and the loving care which 
even after death should follow me to the grave. 
You cannot enter into all this ; you cannot know 
how my brother, who is as good as gold, God 
bless him ! as soon as he heard of my hopes, be- 
gan to plot and plan and dream. Here, this is 
what he says" and he took out a parcel of let- 
ters which he turned over for a few minutes with- 
out finding the one he wanted. "Well, to make 
a long story short, he was beside himself with 
delight and he said to me : ' I will marry my Flor- 
entina to your Pablo, and so we shall get com- 
pound interest on the half million of pesos left by 
cousin Faustino.' I can see him, poor old 
Manuel, rubbing his hands and strutting about as 



his way is when he has hit on a good idea. I am 
expecting him and his daughter to arrive at any 
hour ; they are coming to stay with me for the 
4th of October, and to see what comes of this at- 
tempt to bless my son with the light of day." 

By this time it was growing dark and the party 
of four became aware of a most appetizing vapor 
issuing from the house, and announcing a savory 
farm-supper. The village patriarch, who seemed 
the very incarnation of the spirit of the place a 
tranquil melancholy spoke again presently : " My 
brother's happiness and my own depends on my 
having a son, whom I may propose as a husband 
for his daughter, who is as sweet and fair as the 
Holy Virgin, as we see her represented when the 
angel of the Lord comes to say : ' The Lord is 
with thee.' My blind boy is not the man but my 
Pablo, with his eyesight, would realize my fondest 
dreams and bring the blessing of God into my 

They were all silent, deeply impressed by the 
worthy father's simple and pathetic utterances, and 
he himself raised his rough, brown hand, hardened 
by labor, to wipe away a tear. 

" What have you to say to all this ?" Carlos 
asked his brother. 

" I can say no more than that I have conscien- 


tiously examined the case, and can find no suffi- 
cient reason for saying it is hopeless, as the other 
distinguished operators have said whom our good 
friend has consulted. I cannot pledge myself to 
succeed, nor can I think it impossible. The exami- 
nation I made yesterday revealed no defect or in- 
jury in the retina, and no disease in the optic nerve. 
If the retina is perfect, all that is needed is the re- 
moval of some impediment in front of it. The 
crystalline lens often becomes opaque sometimes 
hard and stony and this is what does the mis- 
chief. If all the other parts of the organ are 
healthy and work but, in the commonwealth of 
the eye, many individual portions are only too 
ready to become atrophied by idleness." 

" So that, in short, it amounts simply to con- 
genital cataract," said Penaguilas eagerly. 

" Oh no, Senor ; if it were no more than that, 
it would be a happy thing for us ! All that would 
be needed would be to get rid of the part that 
does its duty so badly. It ought to let the light 
in and instead of that, it is congested, degenerate, 
stony, and as opaque as a wall. No there is 
something more than that, Don Francisco. The 
iris is defective, the pupil must be taken in hand. 
Still, I can laugh all these details to scorn if, 
when I enter into possession, as it were, of this 


dormant organ, I only find the choroid and the 
retina uninjured. If, on the other hand,, when I 
have removed the opaque lens and let the light in, 
I find complete amaurosis if it were only partial, 
that would be something but if it is total. . . . 
When the nerve of sight is dead we can do noth- 
ing. The deep mysteries of life are closed against 
us. There is nothing for it but patience. This 
case is to me a most interesting one ; there are 
symptoms which lead me to believe that the in- 
ternal function is unimpaired. The retina, as 
Sovereign lord, seems quite disposed to receive the 
light I shall introduce to it, and that high func- 
tionary, the vitreous humor, will probably find it 
no novelty. If 'from long want of exercise it 
has sunk into a state of incipient glaucoma a 
kind of melancholy we will treat it for that. 
All wilf then be well in that darkened chamber. 
But there is another thing to be considered. 
A fissured iris, and an ordinary cataract usually 
admit some gleam of light, and our patient sees 
not a glimmer. This made me hesitate. In 
fact, the sclerotic too is very much thickened ; 
the impediments to the admission of light are 
many and serious .... However, we shall see, 
Don Francisco. Have you courage for any- 
thing ?" 


" Courage ! What should I have courage for ?" 

asked Don Francisco. 

" Sir, you will want all your courage if. ..." 

" Well, if. ... ?" 

" If, after undergoing a painful operation, your 
son is still as blind as before. I said to you, plainly: 
The case is not desperate ; shall I operate ?" 

" And I answered, and I answer once more ; 
Yes operate ; and God's will be done. On- 
wards !" 

"Aye, onwards! You have taken my motto." 

Don Francisco rose and wrung the surgeon's 
hands, that were so like a lion's paws. 

" In this climate the operation may be favor- 
ably performed early in October," Golfin went 
on. " To-morrow we will decide on the regimen 
to which we must subject our patient. Meanwhile 
we will be going, for it is fresh up on this hill." 

Penaguilas pressed shelter and supper on his 
friends, but they would not accept. They set out 
homewards with Nela, whom Teodoro insisted on 
taking with him, and Don Francisco kept them 
company as far as the works. 

Soothed by the silence and beauty of the night, 
they fell into conversation on lighter themes on 
the yield and profits of the mines, and other local 
matters. The Golfins having reached home, Don 


Francisco turned back alone and heavy-hearted, 
walking slowly, with his eyes fixed on the. ground. 
He was thinking of the terrible days of doubt and 
hope, of expectation and anxiety which were com- 
ing on him. Presently he was met by Choto, and 
the pair lazily climbed the wooden stair. The 
moon gave them light, and the old man's shadow 
went up in front of him, broken by the steps into 
a zigzag monster that leaped from plank to plank. 
The dog trotted by its side and Don Francisco, in 
the absence of any other mortal to whom he could 
confide the thoughts that wearied his brain, pres- 
ently said : 

" Oh Choto ! will it succeed ?" 



THAT worthy, Senor Centeno, having refreshed 
his mind with the dull columns of his newspaper, 
and ' Senana,' his wife, after enjoying the more in- 
toxicating delights of counting and feeling the 
coin in the stocking, had taken themselves to bed. 
Children first and parents after, they had all 
marched off to their respective couches. First 
there was the mumbled Litany, sounding like some 


muttered gibberish; then yawns, while the slug- 
gard fingers made the sign of the cross and then 
the stony-hearted family slept. 

When the house was as still as the grave itself, 
a soft rustling began to be audible in the kitchen, 
like the stirring of bats coming out of their hiding 
nooks to see life. The hampers opened and Celi- 
pin heard these words : 

" Celipin look here; I have got something 
nice for you to-night." 

Celipin could see nothing, but he put out his 
hand and took from Nela's two duros. Having as- 
sured himself of their genuineness by touch since 
he could hardly have done so by sight he re- 
mained speechless with astonishment. 

"Don Teodoro gave them to me," added the 
girl, " to buy myself a pair of shoes. But I do not 
.want shoes; so I give them to you, and so you 
will get on faster." 

" Hurrah ! You are as good as the Holy Virgin, 
Nela I want very little more now, and when I 
have got another half-dozen or so of reales you 
shall see what Celipin is made of." 

" Aye, and listen to me, child ; the man who 
gave me that money ran about the streets barefoot 
begging when he was a boy, and now. ..." 

" You do not mean it ! Don Teodoro ? And 


now he has such lots of money. They say six 
mules could not carry it all." 

" Yes, and he slept in the streets, and was an 
errand boy, and had no breeches in short, was 
poorer than a rat. And his brother, Don Carlos, 
lived in an old-clothes shop." 

" Lord save us ! What wonderful things we 
five to hear of! Well, I will go and find an old- 
clothes shop where I can live." 

" Well, and after that he became a barber to 
earn a living and be able to study." 

" Ah. . . . ! Look here then ; I have a great 
mind to go straight into a barber's shop ; I shall 
soon have to shave myself, and I am brisk and 
quick enough, thank God ! Only wait till I get 
to Madrid shaving on one hand and studying on 
the other, at the end of two months I will know 
everything. Look here, it has just struck me that 
I am made to be a doctor. Yes, a doctor, what 
with feeling pulses and looking at tongues, that is 
the way to fill your pockets." 

" Don Teodoro," Nela went on, " had much 
less than you, for you will soon have five duros, 
and with five duros, you can get almost everything. 
Don Teodoro and Don Carlos were like the birds 
that fly about without house or home, all alone in 
the world. Well, by managing well, they got 


learned. Don Teodoro studied dead bodies, and 
Don Carlos studied stones, and so they learnt to 
be gentlemen, and men of importance. And that 
is why Don Teodoro is such a friend to the poor. 
Celipin, you should have seen him this evening 
when he jumped me upon his shoulder and then 
he gave me his cup of milk and looked at me as 
if I were a lady." 

"All strong, active men, are the same," said 
Celipin sharply. " You will see how brave and 
fine I shall look when I wear a long cloak and a 
high hat ; and I will wear those stockings on my 
hands gloves they call them, and never take 
them off excepting to feel a pulse I will have a 
stick with a gilt knob and will wear such clothes ! 
nothing shall ever touch my skin but fine linen. 
Lord love you child ! but you will laugh to see 

" Do not be fancying that you can rise to such 
things at once you who are as bare as an egg," 
said the girl. " You must go step by step, learn- 
ing one thing to-day and another to-morrow. I 
advise you, before you learn to cure sick folks, 
to learn to write ; and so you ought, if it is 
only to leave a letter for your mother, asking her to 
forgive you, and telling her that you are gone away 
from home to improve yourself, to make your 


way like Don Teodoro, and become a clever 

" Do not talk nonsense child. Who does not 
know that writing comes first ? Only let me get 
a pen in my hand, and you will see me flourish 
away at the letters, and what beautiful fine strokes 
I will make up and down, like Don Francisco 
Penaguilas' name at the end of a letter. Write ? 
do not talk to me in four days you will see what 
letters I will write. Aye, you shall hear them read 
and see what grand ideas I can hatch out, and set 
them down too, in such fine words as will make 
you all look foolish. Bless you child ! but you 
have no notion how clever I can be. I feel it in- 
side my head here, buzzing and humming, bur- 
nmbum, burumbum, like the water in the boiler of 
a steam-engine. It will not let me sleep, and I 
feel as if all the sciences in the world came rush- 
ing in and flapped blindly about like bats, wanting 
me to study them. All the sciences I must 
learn them all; I must not leave out one. Well, 
you will see." 

" But there must be a great many. Pablo 
Penaguilas knows them all, and he told me 
that there are a great, great many, and that a 
man's whole lifetime is not enough to learn even 


"Never do you believe him. Well, you will 
see what I can do." 

" And the best of all is what Don Carlos 
learns; why, only think, he picks up a stone and 
makes brass of it ; indeed, they do say he makes 
silver, and even gold. Learn that science, Celi- 

" Do not you be mistaken, Nela ; there is 
nothing like knowing how to take a wrist and look 
at a tongue, and tell in a minute in what corner of 
a body the mischief lies. They say that Don 
Teodoro can take a man's eye out and put him in 
a new one, that he can see with as well as if he 
had been born with it. Just think what it is to 
see a man dying, and to make him hale and sound 
again only by making him swallow half-a-dozen 
flies, let us say, stewed down on a Monday with 
hazel twigs gathered by a maid named Juana 
I say that is something worth doing. Yes, you 
shall see, you shall see what I will do. Doctor 
Celipin de Socartes. I tell you my fame will reach 
as far as Havana." 

" Good, good !" cried Nela, delighted, " But 
remember, you must be a good boy, because the 
reason your parents have taught you nothing, is 
only because they were not clever enough, and so, 
as you are clever, you must pray for them to the 


Holy Virgin, and not forget to send them some of 
all the money you are going to get." 

" I will be sure to send them some. You see, 
it is not because I owe them any grudge that I 
am going to run away ; and before long, very 
soon, you will see a porter come up from the 
station so loaded with big parcels that he can 
hardly stand, and what will they be ? Why, pet- 
ticoats for mother and the girls, and a tall hat for 
father and you I will send you a pair of ear- 

"You are in a hurry with your presents," 
said Nela, smothering a laugh. " Ear-rings for 

" Stop ; I have just got another idea. Shall I 
tell you ? It is that you should come with me ; 
two of us together we should help each other to 
earn money and to learn. For you are clever too, 
I am too sharp not to see that ; and you can learn 
to be a lady as I can to be a gentleman. Oh 
Lord ! how I should laugh to see you playing the 
piano like Dona Sofia." 

" What a simpleton you are ! Why I am no 
good for anything. If I went with you, I should 
only be a clog and burden to you." 

" But they say now that Don Pablo is going to 
be made to see, and when he can see, you will 


have nothing to do in Socartes. What do you 
think of my plan ? Why do not you answer ?" 

There was a long pause, during which Nela 
made no answer. Celipin asked her again but got 
no answer. 

" Go to sleep, Celipin," she said from the bot- 
tom of the baskets. " I am dreadfully sleepy." 

" If my brain will let me sleep, God save us !" 

And a minute later he was dreaming of him- 
self in the semblance of Don Teodoro Golfin, fix- 
ing new eyes in old sockets, splitting open frag- 
ments of rock, and snatching sick men from the 
jaws of death by means of doses of flies, stewed 
on a Monday, with hazel twigs picked by a 
maiden. He saw himself dressed with gorgeous 
garments, his hands encased in perfumed gloves, 
and riding in a coach drawn by swans instead of 
horses, invited by Kings and courted by Queens, 
attending ladies of distinction, lauded by nobles, 
and carried in triumph by all the peoples of the 




NELA had shut herself into her baskets to be 
alone ; we will follow her, however, and look in 
upon her thoughts. But first we must give a little 
more of her history. 

Having entirely lacked all instruction in her 
infancy, having equally lacked all those soft en- 
dearments, which unfailingly open the mind to 
recognize certain truths, Marianela's powerful 
imagination had conceived a strange set of 
ideas, a wild and fanciful theogony, and a highly 
whimsical scheme of cause and effect. Teodoro 
Golfin's comparison of Nela's mind with the early 
stage of a primitive race was a particularly happy 
one. In her, as in them, the fascination of the 
marvellous was the predominant sense ; she be- 
lieved in supernatural agencies, apart from the one 
and supreme God, and saw in all natural objects 
an abstract personality, by no means cut off from 
all communication with men. In spite of all this, 
however, Nela had some knowledge of the Gospel. 
It had never been taught her, to be sure, but she 


had heard such things talked of. She saw that 
people went to a function they called the Mass, 
and she understood the idea of a sublime sacrifice; 
but beyond this her notions could not go. The 
contagion of a common feeling had accustomed 
her mind to reverence the image of the Crucified 
God ; she knew it should be kissed, and she even 
could repeat some prayers that she had learnt 
mechanically ; she knew whatever she wanted she 
could ask of God but this was all. The absolute 
neglect in which her whole nature had been left 
until the time of her acquaintance with Pablo Pena- 
guilas was the cause of this confusion, and her 
friendship with this strange being, who, shut up in 
darkness, nevertheless with his mind's eye boldly 
investigated all the problems of life, had come to her 
too late. Nela's system of philosophy, of her own 
fabrication, had already petrified a strange com- 
pound of paganism and sentimentality. At the 
same time it must be said that Marianela, though 
her spirit ranged so far outside the common at- 
mosphere, was well endowed with good sense, and 
could form a sound judgment on the things of 
daily life, as has been seen in the advice she gave 
to Celipin. This, no doubt, was due to the native 
soundness of her mind. 

The strongest instinct of her nature was her 


love, nay her secret passion, for physical beauty 
wherever she saw it. Nothing could be more 
natural than this impulse in a human soul growing 
up in total solitude, so far as society and teaching 
were concerned, and in constant intercourse, in 
close intimacy we may say, with Nature and all 
its sublime or gracious beauty light, color, 
eloquent inarticulate voices, and infinite variety of 
form. And Marianela's admiration had assumed 
the guise of worship ; in obedience to a law, which 
also governs the primitive race, she had personified 
all the beauty she saw around her and worshipped 
it in a single incarnation, ideal but human. This 
divinity of her imagination she called the Virgin 
Mary, a conception she had derived from the do- 
main of religious thought, of which she knew so 
little. And the Virgin Mary would not have be- 
come her cherished ideal, if she had not joined to 
her moral perfections all the physical gifts of 
beauty and grace ; if her aspect had not been 
noble and attractive, at once human and divine ; 
if it had not seemed to Nela the epitome in which 
were concentrated all the glory of light, the sober 
peace of darkness, the music of running waters, the 
grace and sweetness of flowers, the freshness of the 
dew, the low complaining of the wind, the spotless 
purity of the mountain snow, the loving glances of 


the stars, and the solemn majesty of the clouds, as 
they ride across the vault of heaven. 

The person of God himself she conceived of as 
terrible and austere, inspiring respect rather than 
love. All that was gracious was bestowed by the 
Virgin, and she was the giver of all that human 
creatures could ask for. God frowned, while She 
smiled ; God chastised, but She forgave ; this last 
C-otion was by no means a strange one. It is ac- 
cepted with almost absolute faith among the labor- 
ing classes of the rural parts of Spain. Nor is it 
at all uncommon, when we find a strong imagina- 
tion joined to extreme ignorance, to meet with the 
fusion which existed in Nela's mind of all the 
beauties of Nature with the beautiful personifica- 
tion which combines all the aesthetic charms of 
the Christian ideal. If the darkness in which 
Nela dwelt had only been more complete, if she 
had but been rather more destitute of religious 
notions, she would have been an utter pagan and 
have worshipped the moon, the woods, the rivers, 
fire and the sun. This was Nela as her life in 
Socartes had made her, and such she remained till 
she was fifteen. After that, her comradeship with 
Pablo and her frequent talk with the lad, whose 
ideas were so broad and so sound, had somewhat 
modified her tone of thought. But she still al- 


lowed supreme sovereignty to physical beauty ; she 
still superstitiously adored the Virgin as the em- 
bodiment of all the loveliness of Nature, and, in a 
way, of all moral law ; crowning her system with 
the most extraordinary ideas as to death and the 
life to come. 

Curling herself up in her basket, Marianela's 
reflections took this form : 

" Holy Mother of God ! Why why did you 
not make me beautiful ? Why did you not look 
down on me as soon as I was born ? For the more 
I look at myself, the uglier I seem to grow. Oh ! 
why am I in this world at all ? Of what good can I 
be ? Who can care for me ? One single soul, Lady 
Mother, only one, and he only because he cannot 
see me. What is to become of me when he sees 
me and casts me off? for it is impossible that he 
should ever love me when he sees my miserable 
little body, my freckled face, my ugly mouth, my 
sharp nose, my dirty brown skin all my hide- 
ous little self of no good to any one but to kick 
perhaps. What is that ? Only Nela nothing at 
all. She is of no use to any one but the blind 
boy. If his eyes are opened, if he turns and looks 
at me, I shall drop down dead. 


" He is the only being to whom ' Nela' is any- 
thing more important than the cats and the birds. 
He loves me. Loves me as lovers love their sweet- 
hearts, as God intends human beings to love each 
other. Oh Lady Mother ! now that you are go- 
ing to work a miracle and let him see, make me 
beautiful or strike me dead, for I shall not be 
wanted any more in this world. I am good for 
nothing and ever shall be, excepting to one per- 
son. Am I sorry then that he should be able to 
see? No, no, not that, no. I want him to see; 
I would give my own eyes for him to see with his ; 
I would give my life. I hope Don Teodoro can 
work the miracle as they say. Blessings on all 
wise men ! What I do not want is that my mas- 
ter should ever see me. Before I will let him see 
me, oh Mother ! I will bury myself alive, I will 
throw myself into the river. Yes, the earth shall 
cover my ugliness. I ought never to have been 

She writhed in her narrow basket, and then she 
went on : 

" All my heart and thought are for him. That 
poor, blind man, who has taken it into his head to 
be fond of me he is the first being in the world 
to me next to the Virgin Mary. Oh ! If only I 
were tall and handsome ; if I had the figure, and 


the face, and the color above all, the color of 
other girls ! % If I could only make a lady of my- 
self and dress myself up. And then my greatest 
joy would be to think that his eyes liked to look 
at me. If I were like other girls, even like Mariuca 
how soon I would find a way of getting taught 
and being made a lady of. Oh Mother Mary, 
Queen of the world ! The only creature that loves 
me, I am going to lose : he will leave me. Why 
did you ever let him love me, and let me love him ? 
It ought not never to have been." 

The tears poured down her cheeks ; she folded 
her arms and turned over, and even when half 
asleep she still was speaking to herself: 

" Oh, how much I love you, child of my soul ! 
Love me too, love me very much. It is Nela who 
is no good to any one. Love me very much. 
Let me give you a kiss here on your head. 
But do not open your eyes, do not look at me. 
Shut them so." 




THE thoughts which fade and fly as sleep 
overcomes us, very commonly lurk in some hole 
or corner ready to take us by storm again as soon 
as we wake. Thus it was that Mariquilla, who, 
having fallen asleep with her head full of strange 
fancies of the Virgin, of the blind lad, and of her 
own ugliness which, she longed so wildly to see 
changed into wonderful loveliness, woke with the 
same ideas in her brain when Senana's call roused 
her in her basket. As soon as her eyes were open, 
Nela put up her usual prayer to the Virgin 
Mother a sort of Litany, compounded of the 
ordinary Litany to the Virgin and of certain 
clauses of her own devising, and forming altogether 
an address which would look strange enough if it 
were written down. Among other things, Nela's 
prayer said : 

" Thou didst appear to me in my dreams last 
night, oh Lady ! and promise to comfort me to- 
day. Now I am awake, and still I feel as if I saw 
thy face just before me, and far lovelier than all 
the grand and lovely things in the world." And 


as she spoke she turned and gazed round her. 
Noticing in herself the utter vagueness with which 
she did so, she thought to herself: " Something 
has come over me." 

" What is the matter, Nela ?" asked Senana, 
seeing the girl stand with her eyes wide open and 
fixed on a spot in space. " Do you see a vision, 
simpleton ?" 

But Nela did not answer, her mind was ab- 
sorbed in self contemplation. 

" What ails me ?" she asked herself. " It can- 
not he anything evil, or wicked, for I do not feel 
the black ugly figure of a devil inside me, but 
something heavenly : a beautiful face, a smile and 
a look which if I am in my right mind are 
those of the Virgin Mary herself. Oh Lady 
Mother ! Can it be true that thou wilt give me 
comfort to-day ? And how? By giving me what 
I prayed for last night ?" 

" Now then, brat !" screamed Senana in her 
harsh tones, like a cracked bell. " Go and wash 
your ugly little snout" 

Nela went at once. Her spirit had felt a shock 
as of a sudden gleam of great hope. She looked 
at herself in the quivering surface of the water, 
and her heart shrank within her. 

" No difference," she muttered. " As ugly as 


ever ; the same child's face with a woman's years 
and a woman's heart !" 

But after washing herself she went through 
the same experience as before a sort of agony 
of anticipation, and, in spite of her narrow vocabu- 
lary, Nela could classify these feelings as presenti- 

" Pablo and I," said she to herself, " have often 
talked of how we feel when something sad or 
something pleasant is going to happen. Pablo 
told me that just before an earthquake people have 
strange sensations ; there is something in the air, 
and the beasts feel it too. Is there going to be an 
earthquake, I wonder ?" And she knelt down and 
felt the ground with her hand. 

" I cannot tell. But something is going to 
happen, and I cannot doubt that it will be some- 
thing good. The Virgin told me last night that 
to-day she would comfort me. What has come 
over me ? The Heavenly Queen seems to be 
close to me. I cannot see her, but I feel her 
before me behind me. ..." 

She went close by the machines for washing 
the ore towards the inclined plane, looking about 
her with eager eyes. There was nothing to be 
seen but the arms and wheels of iron, toiling with 
fiendish shrieks amid the hideous confusion of 


whirling cylinders, lashing the water to powder, as 
it seemed, and breathing out dust and smoke. 
Presently, when she had gone some little distance, 
she stopped ; putting her hand to her forehead, 
and fixing her eyes on the ground in all the be- 
wilderment of doubt : " The question is," said 
she to herself, " am I happy or am I sad ?" 

She looked up at the sky, half wondering to 
see it appear the same as on other days and it was 
a lovely day and then she walked on faster, to 
reach Aldeacorba as soon as possible. Instead of 
going through the gallery in the mines and up the 
wooden steps, she kept above the hollow way, along 
by the gutter that bordered the inclined tramway, 
intending to get out into the fields, and walk 
straight on by the level road to the village. This 
way was much the prettiest, and she almost always 
chose it, for that reason. It went by lanes full 
of sweet and gay flowers, where crowds of bees 
and butterflies fluttered and sipped ; there were 
thickets of bramble loaded with the black fruit be- 
loved of children ; clumps of cherry-trees over- 
grown with honeysuckles, and enormous ilex, 
tall, spreading, densely shady, and proud, it would 
seem, of their wide, black shadows. 

Here Nela went more slowly, uneasy in her- 
self, puzzled at her own sensations, and at the 


anxious excitement that stirred in her. Her rapid 
fancy presently hit upon a formula to express the 
state of her feelings, and remembering having heard 
it said of such and such a one, " the devil is in him," 
she said to herself: "The angels are in me, the 
Virgin Mary is with me this day. What I feel are 
the wings of her angels fluttering inside me. Thou 
art near me, Lady Mother, I see you and yet I 
do not see you as we see with our eyes shut." 

She shut her eyes, and then she opened them 
again. She had just passed a grove of trees and 
turned an angle of the road to go to a place where 
she knew of a bramble copse, the greenest, pretti- 
est, a*nd most fruitful in all the neighborhood. 
There were luxuriant ferns too, honeysuckle, wild 
vine, and other climbing plants, all clinging and 
tangled together in mutual dependence. 

Nela heard a rustle in the brushwood close to 
her, and turning round she saw Merciful Heaven 1 
There, in a frame of greenery, stood the Immacu- 
late Virgin herself the face, the eyes, which in 
their gaze seemed to have all the calm beauty of 
the sky. Nela stood silent, petrified ; with a feel- 
ing at once of devotion and terror. She could not 
stir, nor cry out, nor hardly breathe, nor take her 
eyes off this beatific vision. 

It stood among the verdure, the face and 


figure to the waist perfectly displayed. This was 
yes, certainly the very presence of the Maiden 
of Nazareth, whose moral loveliness every painter 
has endeavored to express by means of physical 
beauty, from St. Luke downwards through "eigh- 
teen centuries. Have not men indeed seen that 
sacred form with the eyes of sense with the 
eyes of Albert Diirer of Rafael of Van Eyck 
of Bartolome Murillo ? It was under the 
Rafaelesque aspect that she now appeared to 
Nela, the most realistic of all, if realism can mean 
the nearest approach of perfect human beauty to 
an artistic representation of divine goodness. The 
oval of her face was less narrow than the Seville 
painter's type, and had more of the tender round- 
ness of the Italian form. Her eyes, which were 
finely shaped, were gentleness itself, with a soft- 
ness and sweetness as far removed from indiffer- 
ence, as from the lightning glow of the eyes of 
Andalucia ; the brows that overarched them were 
delicately curved, and as fine as if they had been 
traced with a paint-brush. Her forehead was 
unshadowed by any cloud of weariness or sadness, 
and her lips, which were rather full, parted in a 
smile that revealed the pearliest teeth that ever bit 
into the apples of Paradise. And so, without in 
the least intending it, I have compared her to our 


Mother Eve wide as the distance is between her 
who yielded to the Serpent and her who set her 
heel on his head ; but the beauty of a lovely girl 
is enough to betray us into such unlucky blunders. 
To put a finishing touch to this imperfect descrip- 
tion of the divine vision which had so utterly dis- 
mayed poor Marianela, it must be said that her 
complexion was of that faded rose color, or warm 
clear brown which gives an enchanting glow to 
the faces of those glorious pictures which succes- 
sive generations, of believers and heretics alike, 
have worshipped in ecstasy. 

After the first shock of surprise was over, the 
first fhing that Nela observed, and which confused 
her judgment greatly, was that the fair Virgin 
wore a blue ribbon round her throat, a detail she 
had never before seen in any picture or dream of 
the Virgin Mary ; then she perceived that her 
shoulders and bosom were covered by a dress in 
every respect similar to that worn by other ladies ; 
but the thing which puzzled and disturbed her most 
was that the fair creature was picking blackberries 
and eating them. 

She was beginning to draw accurate inferences 
from this remarkable behavior, when she heard a 
loud man's voice calling : 

" Florentina, Florentina !" 


" I am here, Papa here, eating blackber- 

" Naughty child how can you like to eat 
blackberries ? What next whim will you take ? 
Have I not told you that they are only fit for the poor 
children that run about the country, and not for a 
young lady who has been properly brought up. 
Do you hear? And lived in good society." 

Nela saw the speaker come towards them. He 
was a man of advanced middle age and medium 
height, rotund, and with a ruddy countenance 
that seemed to radiate satisfaction as the sun 
radiates light. His legs were thin, his nose was 
large, and his person decorated with a variety of 
splendid objects, among which a thick watch-chain 
was conspicuous, while he wore a broad-brimmed 
hat of fine black felt. 

" Come, come, child," said Don Manuel Pena- 
guilas, for he it was, " respectable people do not 
eat blackberries nor skip and jump about like that. 
There, you have torn your dress I do not care 
about the dress, for I can buy you another as I 
bought you that I only speak because the peo- 
ple here who see you might think you had no 
dress but the one you have on." 

Nela, who by this time understood the case, 
looked at the young lady's dress. It was good 


and handsome, but her face betrayed unmistaka- 
bly the transition and a rapid one from the 
position of a rich peasant's daughter to that of a 
fine lady. Every detail of her attire, from her shoes 
to her comb, stamped her as the daughter of the 
people in holiday clothes. But the girl's natural 
grace and beauty were so transcendent, that no 
deficiency, as measured by any conventional stand- 
ard of elegance, could dim them. It was not to 
be denied, however, that her whole individuality 
cried out for a short peasant's skirt, hair dressed in 
plaits with a bunch of poppies to adorn it with 
affected simplicity, a sleeveless bodice, a coral neck- 
lace in short, the costume which good taste and 
the nature of things would have suggested, with- 
out any admixture of the devices of the fine 

As the young girl came out from among the 
brambles, Don* Manuel perceived Nela, at the 
moment when she had just recovered from 
her delusion, and he called out as he turned 
to her : 

" Hallo ! and who are you ? Why, look Flor- 
entina, it is Nela, the little body that waits upon 
your cousin. You remember I spoke of her to 
you ? And how are you now-a-days ?" 

"Very well, Senor Don Manuel. And you. 


How are you, Senor ?" asked Mariquilla without 
taking her eyes off Florentina. 

" Perfectly well as you see. This is my 
daughter. Well, what do you think of her ?" 

Florentina had just set out on a butterfly chase. 

" My dear child, where are you going ? What 
do you want now?" said the father, visibly 
annoyed. " Now do you think it looks well 
that you should be running after an insect like 
some poor child ? You must not be so wild, my 
child. Young ladies brought up in good society 
do not do such things never do such things. . ." 

It was a trick with Don Manuel to repeat the 
last clause of his sentences to give them em- 

" Ah ! do not be cross, Papa," said the girl, 
returning from her fruitless chase to shelter her- 
self under the protecting brim of the paternal hat. 
" You know how much I love the country and that 
I am half crazy when I see trees and flowers and 
meadows. And in that dismal town of Campo I 
never see anything of the kind. ..." 

" Oh ! but you must not say anything against 
Santa Irene de Campo ; it is a famous town where 
you find every comfort and convenience, and a 
great deal of very distinguished society. It stands 
in the foremost ranks of civilization yes, of 


civilization. You can admire the beauties of 
Nature while you walk properly by my side. I 
admire them too, but without cutting capers or 
turning somersaults. You can tell when a young- 
person has moved in good society only by her 
way of walking and looking at the scene around 
her. This way of calling out at every minute : 
Ah ! Oh ! Look there, Papa ! How pretty ! 
and pointing to a fern, perhaps, or an oak-tree, or 
a rock a thorn-bush even, a brook is not at 
all in good taste people will think you have 
lived in a desert. So come and walk by me. 
Nela will show us the way home, for, to tell you 
the truth, I do not know where we are." 

" If we turn to the left, past that old house," 
said Nela readily, " we shall be there directly. 
But here comes Don Francisco." 

And, in fact, Don Francisco came on towards 
them, calling out : " The chocolate is getting 

" What would you have my good fellow. 
This child was so anxious to scamper across the 
country that she would not wait, so we went 
springing from bush to bush like goats just like 
goats from bush to bush." 

" Well come in now, come home. Nela do you 
come too, and have some chocolate," said Pena- 


guilas, laying a hand on the child's head. " Well, 
and what do you think of my niece ? Is not she 
pretty? Florentina, when you have had your 
chocolate, Nela will take you and Pablo for a 
walk, and you will see all the beauties of the 
neighborhood the mines, the wood, the river. .. ." 

Florentina sent a kind glance to the hapless 
little creature who, as she ran by her side, seemed 
to have been formed by Nature expressly as a foil 
and contrast to one of the loveliest and most per- 
fect of her creations. 

When they reached the house the table was 
ready laid with the chocolate pots full of the thick 
and nutritious beverage, and a small hillock of 
slices of bread. There too were the mantequilla 
(a sort of cake), duly decked with fern leaves, and 
no lack of other household dainties. The bright 
glasses of crystal water reflected and magnified all 
these gastronomical objects. 

" Here we have something to support life," 
said Don Francisco, seating himself. 

" And you will have some chocolate too, Nela," 
said Pablo. He had hardly spoken when Floren- 
tina had offered her the chocolate pot, and every- 
thing that was on the table was pressed on her 
acceptance. She refused at first, but the Senorita 
insisted with so much kindness and gentle grace, 


that she had at last no choice. Don Manuel cast 
side glances at his daughter, not feeling perfectly 
satisfied with her advance in the arts and manners 
of the best society, since one of the most impor- 
tant points, in his estimation, consisted in a deli- 
cate appreciation of the shades of civility due to 
different people according to their rank and posi- 
tion, " showing to each neither more nor less than 
was appropriate by the rules of social distinction ; 
since, by this means, each would keep his place, 
while true dignity would hold its own and observe 
that happy medium of courtesy, which was not 
too haughty or reserved to the rich, nor too 
humble and condescending to the poor not too 
humble to the poor." 

When they had done breakfast, Don Francisco 
said : 

" Now, you children, go out for a walk. 
Pablo, this is the last day that Don Teodoro will 
allow you to walk out. You three go and have a 
run, while my brother and I go over the farm. 
Fly away birds !" 

There was no need to speak twice ; the beauty 
of the day was invitation enough, and the three 
young people set out for the fields. 




THE town-bred damsel thoroughly enjoyed 
the open and smiling meadows without the tram- 
mels of her father's social dogmas, and as soon as 
they were at some little distance from the house 
she took to running and leaping, swinging now 
and then from the branches of the trees as she 
passed them. She pinched the blackberries with 
the tips of her fingers, and when she thought 
them ripe she would pick three, one for each 

"This is for you, cousin," she said, putting it 
to his lips, "and this is for you, Nela, and this 
little one is for me." 

Then as the birds flew across she could not resist 
the temptation to wave her arms as if she too could 
fly. " Where are the little rascals off to I wonder ?" 
she said. She must need gather a branch from every 
oak-tree and split open the acorns to see what was 
in them, then she bit into one, and finding it 
bitter, tossed it away. No botanist, mad on 
Latin names and classification, could have been so 
eager to collect all the flowers that grew under 


her feet, as if to bid her welcome to their native 
soil, and she gathered enough in half an hour to . 
adorn every button-hole in her cousin's cloak, to 
make a garland for Nela's hair, and then one for 
her own. 

" My cousin would like to see the mines," 
said Pablo. " Do not you think we might go 
down ?" 

"Yes, let us go down this way, Senorita." 

" Oh ! but I do not like to go through tunnels, 
they frighten me dreadfully. I really cannot go 
through a tunnel. ..." said Florentina, following 
them. " Cousin, do you and Nela walk about 
here often ? Oh ! but this is beautiful I could 
live here all my life. Blessings on the man who 
is going to give you the power of enjoying this 
lovely world !" 

" God grant it ! And it will all look much 
more lovely to me who have never seen it, than 
to you who are tired of it all. But do not sup- 
pose, Florentina, that I do not understand what 
beauty is ; I can feel it in my own fashion, and 
my fancy almost, almost makes up for my want of 

"That is strange. But say what you will," 
replied Florentina, " we will have some good fun 
when you can see." 


" Maybe," said the blind boy, " that I may 
not find much to say that day." 

Nela meanwhile was absolutely speechless. 

When they had reached the crater of La Ter- 
rible, Florentina was greatly struck by the grand 
spectacle of the limestone rocks, left on the ground 
after the ore had been extracted. She compared 
' them to huge masses of sugar loaves piled one on 
another ; then, after looking a second time, she 
said they were like gigantic dogs and cats turned 
to stone at the critical moment of a furious fight. 

" Let us sit down on this slope," she said, 
" and we shall see the trains go by with the min- 
eral, and besides we can see these stones which 
are very curious. That large rock in the middle 
has a wide mouth do you see, Nela? and out 
of the mouth sticks a toothpick ; it is a tree that 
has grown all alone there. It looks as if it were 
laughing at us, for it has eyes too ; and there, far- 
ther on, is one with a hump, another smoking a 
pipe, and two pulling each other's hair ; there is 
one yawning, another asleep and drunk, and an- 
other head downwards supporting a cathedral on 
his feet ; then there is one playing the guitar, with 
a dog's head and coffee-pot on it like a cap." 

" What you are saying," observed the blind 
man, "proves to me how differently things are 


seen by different eyes, and that the precious gift of 
sight sometimes travesties them strangely, chang- 
ing their natural form into something whimsical 
and unreal ; for, after all, what you see before you 
are neither cats nor men, toothpicks, cathedrals, 
nor coffee-pots, but merely limestone rocks and 
masses of calcareous stone stained with oxide of 
iron. And it is your eye that burlesques so sim- 
ple a fact." 

" You are right, cousin ; and for that very 
reason I say it is our imagination that sees, 
and not our eyes. Nevertheless our sight is use- 
ful to inform us, for instance, of certain things 
which poor people have not got and which we 
who are rich can give them." And as she spoke 
she touched Nela's dress. 

" Why does not this dear little Nela wear bet- 
ter clothes ?" she went on. " I have a number of 
frocks and I will give her one and a new one 
too, into the bargain." Marianela, covered with 
blushes and confusion, did not raise her eyes. 

" That is a thing I can never understand : why 
some have so much and others so little. I get quite 
angry with Papa when I hear him abusing those 
who wish that everything should be divided so 
that all should have an equal share. What do they 
call those people, Pablo ?" 


" Socialists communists. ..." said the lad 

" Well, those are the people for me. I vote for 
a redistribution, so that the rich should give the 
poor all they have too much of. Why should this 
orphan go barefoot when I wear shoes ? Even 
wicked people ought not to be destitute, much less 
good ones. Now, I know that Nela is very good, 
you told me so last evening, and your father said 
so too. And she has no parents, no one to care 
for her. How is it that there are so many, many, 
miserable creatures in the world ? My bread burns 
my mouth when I remember how many there are 
who have none at all. Poor little Nela ! such a 
good child, and so forlorn ! It seems impossible 
that to this day you should have lived without 
being loved, without any one to give you a kiss nor 
to cuddle and pet you as we pet little children 
my heart aches to think of it." 

Marianela was as completely petrified with as- 
tonishment as at the first sight of the apparition. 
Then she had seen the Virgin Mary, now she 
heard her very words. 

" Listen, little one," the Holy Maiden went on, 
"and you, Pablo, listen too. I must help and 
comfort Nela not as we help the beggars by the 
road, but as we try to help a brother whom we 


find unexpectedly. Did you not tell me that she 
has been your companion, your lazarillo, your 
guide through the darkness ? That you saw with 
her eyes and trod in her steps ? Nela is mine as 
much as yours then, and I shall take charge of 
her. I will dress her and give her everything she 
can want to live decently, and teach her a hundred 
things to make her useful in the house. Papa told 
me that perhaps I might always have to live here ; 
and, if so, Nela will live with me ; with me she 
will learn to read, to say her prayers, to sew and 
to cook ; she will learn so many things that she 
will know as much as I do. What do you think 
of my plan ? She will soon be nothing short of a 
young lady. My father will not prevent me I 
know. Indeed, last evening he said to me : 'Flor- 
entinilla perhaps, perhaps, before long I shall not 
rule you any longer ; you may have to obey an- 
other master. ..." Well, be that as it may, Nela 
shall be my friend. Will you love me ? dearly ? 
You have lived so neglected as the wild flowers 
grow in the fields that you do not even know 
how to say thank you but never mind I will 
teach you ; oh ! I have to teach you so many- 

Marianela, who had been making stupendous 
efforts not to cry as she listened to these splendid 


promises, could at last hold in no longer and, after 
screwing up her face for a minute, burst into tears. 
The blind boy sat silent, lost in thought. 

"Florentina," he said presently," you speak 
and think differently from most other people. 
Your goodness is as infinite and as enthusiastic as 
that which has filled the world with martyrs and 
peopled heaven with saints." 

"What an extravagant way of putting it!" 
said the girl laughing, and she rose to gather a 
flower that had attracted her attention at some lit- 
tle distance. 

" Is she gone ?" asked Pablo. 

" Yes," said Nela, gulping down her tears. 

" Do you know ?" said Pablo, " I fancy my 
cousin must be rather pretty. When she arrived 
last evening I felt the greatest antipathy towards 
her ; I cannot tell you what a dislike I took to her. 
But to-day I fancy I can see her, and that she 
must be rather pretty." 

Nela began to cry again. 

" She is like an angel !" she said with a flood of 
tears. "She looks as if she had just come straight 
from Heaven. Body and soul she is exactly like 
the Holy Virgin Mary." 

" Oh ! do not exaggerate," said Pablo uneasily. 
" She cannot be so lovely as you say. Do not im- 


agine that because I have no eyes I cannot feel 
who is beautiful and who is not." 

" No, no, you cannot feel it, you do not under- 
stand. Oh! you are mistaken, quite mistaken." 

"No, no. She cannot be so beautiful," the 
blind lad insisted, turning very pale as he spoke. 
".Nela, darling of my heart, do you know what 
my father told me ? That if I recover my sight I 
am to marry Florentina." 

Nela could not answer ; her tears continued to 
flow in silence, pouring down her burning cheeks 
and dropping on her hands. But not even the 
bitterest tears could give expression or relief to 
her intense grief. It was immeasurable, infinite, 
that was all she knew. 

" I know why you are crying so much," the 
blind youth said holding her hands very tightly in 
his own. " But my father will not insist on mak- 
ing me marry against my will. For me there is no 
wife in the world but you. When my eyes can 
see, they will care for no beauty but your heavenly 
Jace ; all others will be but shades, too remote and 
dim to attract my gaze. Oh God ! what is a 
human face like ? How does the soul stand re- 
vealed in flesh ? If light cannot avail to give an- 
other aspect to thought and fancy, of what use is 
it at all ? That which we conceive of and that 


which is are they not one and the same thing ? 
Are not the idea and the form the same to each 
other as fire and heat ? Can they be separated ? 
And can you cease to be the fairest in the world 
to me, the sweetest and best beloved, when I am 
lord of the vast domain of the visible ?" 

Florentina now rejoined them, and they talked 
as they went home ; but nothing more was said of 
sufficient interest to be set down here. 



NOTHING of importance occurred on the two 
following days, but then there came one on which 
the deed was done, the wonderful, crowning, fate- 
ful deed. Teodoro Golfin, in whose hands the 
surgeon's knife was as the chisel of a Genius, had 
attempted to amend one of Nature's most delicate 
works. Unflinching and calm he took possession, 
as it were, in virtue of his science and experience, 
of the marvellous speck in which the glorious 
scheme of the Universe is epitomized and concen- 
trated. The task before him was nothing less than 
to stand face to face with the mystery of Life ; to 
investigate and discover the causes which hindered 


a living eye from taking cognizance of things visi- 
ble. For this a firm soul was needed and a tender 
hand. The delicate tissue of the cornea must be 
divided, the crystalline lens removed, carefully 
avoiding the hyaloid membrane and the vitreous 
humor ; the dimensions of the pupil must be in- 
creased by an incision, and the condition of the 
inner chamber of the eye ascertained by induction 
or by examination. 

Few words were spoken after this daring ex- 
pedition into a microcosm an enterprise not less 
bold than the attempt to measure the distance be- 
tween the stars, or to guage the infinite realms of 
space. Those who were present sat in silent sus- 
pense, as they might await the resurrection of a 
dead man or the creation of a new world. Golfin 
said nothing definite either : 

" Iris contractile," he muttered. " Retina sen- 
sitive. . . . Nerves living and sound. ..." And yet 
the function, the fact, the act of seeing where 
was that ? 

"Time will show," said Don Teodoro, as he 
carefully adjusted the bandages. " Patience." 

And his leonine face expressed neither disap- 
pointment nor triumph, neither hope nor doubt. 
Science had done all she could ; it was almost like 
an act of creation, like many others she has 


enabled us to perform in this nineteenth century. 
Nature, thus boldly defied and resenting such an in- 
trusion on her secrets, held her peace. 

The patient was strictly forbidden to see any 
one but his father, who waited on him ; no one 
else was admitted. Nela went several times to en- 
quire for the invalid ; but she never crossed the 
threshold, she waited outside till Don Manuel 
should come out, or his daughter, or some mem- 
ber of the household. The young lady, after giving 
her the fullest information and painting in lively 
colors the anxiety they all felt, would go out to 
walk with her. One day Florentina insisted that 
Nela should show her where she lived, and they 
went down to Centeno's hovel ; the squalid inte- 
rior horrified and disgusted Florentina; above all, 
the baskets which served as the orphan's bed. 

" Well, Nela will very soon come to live with 
me," said Florentina, getting out of the stuffy hole 
as fast as she could, " and then she will have a 
bedroom just like mine, and will dress and feed as 
I do." 

Dame Centeno and her two girls stood open- 
mouthed with astonishment at this speech. They 
began to think that the hapless and neglected or- 
phan must have found her father in some Prince 
or King, as the orphans do in the tales. 


When they had left the house behind them 
Florentina said to her companion : " Pray to God 
day and night that He may grant my dear cousin 
the blessing which we all enjoy and which He has 
denied to him. What an anxious state we live in ! 
If he gains his sight a thousand delightful things 
will follow and many difficulties will be removed. 
I have made a solemn vow to the Virgin ; I have 
promised that if she grants my cousin his sight I 
will take under my care the very poorest creature I 
can find, and give her all that can make her en- 
tirely forget her poverty, making her my own equal 
in every respect, as happy and as comfortable as 
I am. And it is not enough merely to give her 
clothes, or set her down to a table with plenty of 
soup and meat. No, there is another charity 
which is worth more than all the broken food and 
frippery in the world kindness, respect, consider- 
ation, and a name. I will give her these too, and 
teach her to respect herself. I have found the 
person I want, Maria it is you. I have promised 
the Holy Virgin from the bottom of my soul that 
if she will bestow the gift of sight on my cousin, 
you shall be my sister. You shall be the same as 
myself, in my house, exactly like my sister." As she 
spoke Nela's Virgin clasped the girl in her arms 
and kissed her on the forehead. 


It is impossible to give any idea of the poor lit- 
tle vagabond's feelings in this crowning hour of her 
life. An instinctive dread kept her away from the 
house at Aldeacorba, a dread that was dimly mixed 
up with the personality of her young benefactress, 
like the figures we see in a nightmare ; while, at 
the same time, she felt tender admiration and 
reverence for her. Now and again, in her inno- 
cent bewilderment, she fancied it must be the Vir- 
gin Mary in her actual presence ; in no other way 
could she conceive of the kind-heartedness which 
smiled upon her, like the realms of Paradise, from 
the open soul of Florentina, with its purity, ten- 
derness, gentleness, and gracious consolations. 
Nela's honest instinct made her feel and understand 
at once that she could not hate her self-constituted 
sister. Hate her ! How could she ? She felt she 
must love her with all the strength of her soul. 
Her aversion and repulsion sank to the bottom like 
a sediment after fermentation, and there decom- 
posed and vanished, their elements recombining 
to intensify the admiration and respect she felt for 
her benefactress. Still, though the feeling had 
disappeared, the cause remained the sentiment 
which, as it could no longer flourish singly in her 
soul, with that masterful exclusiveness which is 
characteristic of such passions, revenged itself by 


producing that utter dejection which is the very 
demon of melancholy. 

At Centeno's they remarked that Nela did not 
eat, that she seemed wearier than usual, that for 
long intervals she sat as silent and motionless as a 
statue, and that she sang no longer, day or night. 
Her incapacity for exertion had become absolute 
helplessness, and Tanasio, having sent her to buy 
him some tobacco, she sat down in the road and 
remained there for the rest of the day. 

One morning, just a week after the operation 
had been performed, she went up to the engineer's 
house, and Sofia said to her : " A gift for good 
news Nela ! Have you heard ? They have taken 
off the bandages to-day, and they say he can see, 
that he will see quite well. Ulysses, the foreman 
of the works, has just been to tell us. Teodoro 
has not been here, but my husband has gone to 
Aldeacorba we shall know the truth very soon." 

Nela, as she heard it, fejttnpre dead than alive, 
and crossing her hands she exclaimed : " Blessed 
be the Holy Virgin who has worked this wonder ! 
She, she alone has done it." 

"You are glad little one? No wonder, for 
now Senorita Florentina will keep her promise," 
said Sofia in a bantering tone. " Allow me to con- 
gratulate you, Senorita Dona Nela. Why it is 


like a lottery ! What a big prize, Nelilla ! And 
yet you may not be grateful no, you will not. 
I never yet knew any poor who were grateful. 
They are all proud, and the more you give them 
the more they ask. Well, it is a settled thing that 
Pablo is to marry his cousin, and it is a very 
good match ; they are a handsome pair and she 
seems no fool and she has a sweet pretty face ; 
what a pity to spoil such a face and figure by dress- 
ing so villanously ! No, no, if I want to dress well I 
will not apply to the dressmaker at Santa Irene de 

As she spoke Don Carlos came in ; he was 
radiant with satisfaction and delight 

" A complete success !" he shouted as he 
reached the door. " Next to God stands my 
brother Teodoro !" 

" It is quite certain ?" 

"As sure as daylight I never believed it 
could be. And what a triumph, Sofia ! What a 
triumph ! It is my greatest pride and happiness 
to be my brother's brother. He is the king of 
men. Yes, as I say: First God, and then Teo- 
doro !" 




THE wonderful good news flew through 
Socartes. Nothing else was talked of in the 
smelting-houses, in the workshops, in the washing- 
mills, on the tram-way, in the deepest diggings, 
and on the top of the hill, in the bowels of the earth 
or the open light of heaven. Various interesting 
commentaries were added : that in Aldeacorba it 
was thought for a moment that Don Francisco 
was out of his wits with joy ; that Don Manuel 
meant to celebrate the happy event by giving a 
grand banquet to all the hands employed in the 
mines ; and, finally, that Don Teodoro was a great 
man, whom all blind men, present or to come, 
might indeed esteem, " as the apple of their eye." 

Nela could not venture to go to the house at 
Aldeacorba. A mysterious force seemed to hold 
her back. She wandered all day round and about 
the mines, gazing from afar at the Penaguilas 1 
house, which in her eyes, looked transformed. 
Her spirit was full of a strange compound of the 
sincerest joy and an overwhelming shamefaced- 
ness, of noble devotion and with it the unendura- 


ble aching, so to speak, of an intensely sensitive 

She found some surcease from the turmoil of 
her brain in that motherly solitude which had 
contributed so largely to the formation of her 
character, and in dreaming over the beauty of 
Nature, which always lifted her soul to closer com- 
munion with the Divinity. The clouds in the sky 
and the flowers of the field affected her mind as 
others are affected by the pomp of altars, the elo- 
quence of preachers and the study of the medita- 
tions of the mystics. In the solitude of the open 
country she thought and said a thousand things 
that she never dreamed were aspirations and 
prayers. She looked towards Aldeacorba, and 
said to herself: 

" I will never go there again. All is over and 
done. Of what use can I be now?" 

With all her ignorance she understood that the 
struggle in her soul arose from her incapacity to 
hate any one ; on the contrary, she was constrained 
to love her friend and her enemy alike, and just 
as thistles turned into flowers under the miraculous 
touch of some Christian martyr, Nela perceived 
that her jealousy and aversion were graciously 
blossoming into admiration and gratitude. That 
which could undergo no change was the feeling 


we have described as self-conscious shame, and 
which urged her to keep herself quite apart from 
any events which might henceforth occur in Al- 
deacorba. It was a special aspect of the senti- 
ment which in civilized and educated persons is 
called amour propre, which includes in itself the 
capacity for self-depreciation. The connection, 
however, between her feeling and that which has 
so large a share in the actions of cultivated per- 
sons, consisted in the fact that both were founded 
on a punctilious sense of dignity. If Marianela 
could have expressed herself in their language 
she would have said : 

" My dignity will not allow me to submit to 
the horrible degradation you would put upon me. 
It is God's will that I should endure this humilia- 
tion so be it; but I cannot stand by and see 
myself deposed and discrowned. May his bless- 
ings fall on the head of her who, by a law of 
nature, must fill the place I once occupied but 
I have not the courage to put her there with my 
own hands." 

But not being able to utter her pain in these 
words, she could only say : " I will never go to 
Aldeacorba again I will never let him see me. 
I will run away with Celipin, or I will go to my 
mother. I am of no use now to any one." 


Still, even while she said this, it struck her as 
very sad that she should have to give up the 
divine protection of that Heavenly Maiden who 
had appeared to her in the darkest hour of her life, 
and cast her sheltering mantle over her ! To think 
that after seeing the vision realized which had so 
often appeared to her in dreams of thrilling beati- 
tude, she must renounce it to have heard herself 
called by a gentle voice, that offered her a sister's 
love, a happy home, position, a name, and a lux- 
urious existence and then be unable to obey the 
invitation with joy, alacrity and thankfulness to 
reject the hand which would snatch her from a life 
of degradation and misery, and make a lady of 
the wretched vagabond, raising her from the rank 
of a domestic animal to that of a loved and 
respected woman !.-... 

" Woe, woe !" she cried, clutching her bosom 
as if her fingers were talons: "I cannot, never, 
never . . . Nothing in the world shall ever take me 
to Aldeacorba ! Virgin, mother of my soul, take 
me, take me . . . Mother, will you not come and 
fetch me !" 

As night came on, she went home ; on her way 
she met Celipin with a stick in his hand and his 
cap hung on the end of it. 

"Look here, Nelilla," said the boy: "Is not 


this how Don Teodoro carries his hat ? Just now 
I was passing the pool at Hinojales and I looked 
at my reflection in the water. My ! was not I 
surprised I thought I looked just like Don Teo- 
doro Golfin. Some day this week we will set out 
to become learned and useful persons. I have 
got as much money now as I want, and you will 
see, no one will dare to laugh at Senor de Celipin." 

For three days Nela kept out of the way, 
wandering about the neighborhood of the mines, 
following the course of the river along its rugged 
banks, or hiding herself in the quiet recesses of 
the wood of Saldeoro. The nights she spent. in 
her basket, but she could not sleep. One night 
she timidly called her companion : 

" Celipin when ?" and Celipin replied with 
all the solemnity befitting a regular expedition : 


The two adventurers rose at day-break, and 
both went their way ; Celipin to his work, and 
Nela to carry a message from Senana to the en- 
gineer's housekeeper. On her return she found 
Senorita Florentina, who was waiting for her at 
Centenc's house. Maria was surprised and alarmed 
at seeing her, though her instinct told her of the 
end and object of this visit. 

" Nela, my little sister," said the girl with en- 


gaging gentleness : " Why are you behaving so 
strangely ? Why have you not been near us all 
these days ? Come, Pablo wishes to see you. Do 
you not know that now he can say : ' I want to 
see this thing or the other ?' Do you not know 


that my cousin is no longer blind ?" 

"Yes I know it," said Nela, taking 'the hand 
Florentina held out to her and covering it with 

" Come along then ; come at once. He is al- 
ways asking for ' Seiiora Nela.' And to-day you 
must be there when Don Teodoro takes the ban- 
dage off it is the fourth time. Oh ! the first day 
when he first tried it ! What a day that was ! 
When we knew for certain that my cousin was 
born again, as I may say, to the light of day we 
almost died of joy. And the first face he saw was 
mine. Come along, quickly." But Maria drew 
her hand out of her Virgin's clasp. 

" Have you forgotten my promise, my vow ?" 
Florentina went on, " or did you think I was 
talking at random ? But indeed, nothing I can do 
seems enough to show our Mother of Mercies my 
gratitude for the grace she has shown us. I should 
like that, on this day, not a creature that the whole 
world contains should be sad. I should like to 
divide my happiness, and fling it abroad on all sides, 


as the sower casts the seed ; I should like to go 
into every wretched dwelling and say : ' All your 
troubles are ended. I have a remedy for them 
all.' But it is impossible; no one can do that but 
God. Still, as my powers are not equal to my will, 
let me at any rate do what I can and these are 
not mere words, Nela. Come with me, away from 
this hovel ; bid farewell to everything that has 
made part of your misery and your loneliness. 
For you may have an affection, even for your 
wretchedness, my child." 

Marianela did not, however, say good-bye to 
anything ; and as none of the family were indoors 
at that hour, she did not wait for them. Florentina 
went out, leading by the hand the poor little girl 
whom her noble impulses and Christian feeling had 
adopted to be her equal; and Nela allowed herself 
to be led, from sheer incapacity to offer any resis- 
tance. She felt as though some superhuman power 
had taken her in hand and was carrying her along, 
fatally and inevitably, as the angels bear a soul 
away to Heaven. 

They took the path by Hinojales, where the 
vagabond child had seen Florentina for the first 
time. As they turned into the lane the young 
lady said to her companion. 

" Why have you not been to the house ? My 


uncle says that you have so much natural modesty 
and delicacy that it is a pity you should not have 
been educated. Was it delicacy that kept you 
from coming to ask for what, by God's mercy, 
you had so happily gained ? Without doubt my 
uncle is right. . . . You should have seen the 
poor dear man that day he said he should 
not be sorry to die ! Do you see ? My eyes are 
still red with crying so much. And last night my 
uncle and my father and I never went to sleep ; 
we were making plans for all the family and 
building castles in the air all night Why do you 
say nothing ? Why are you so silent ? Are you 
not as glad as I am?" 

Nela looked up in the girl's bright face and 
made a faint effort to resist the gentle hand that 
held hers. 

"Come along what is the matter ? You look 
at me so strangely Nela." 

She did indeed ; the hapless child's eyes wan- 
dering vaguely from one object to another, ended 
by fixing themselves on the Virgin of her fancy, 
with a strange glitter of apprehension. 

"Why does your hand tremble so?" Floren- 
tina went on. " Are you ill ? You are as pale as 
death and your teeth are chattering. If you are 
ill I will cure you, I myself can cure you. From 


this day you will have some one to care for you, 
and pet you, and make much of you. And I shall 
not be alone you know, for Pablo is very fond of 
you he told me so. We both love you dearly 
and he and I shall be like one person. He wants 
to see you. Just fancy how full of curiosity a 
man must be who has never seen anything at all ; 
but you cannot think how from being so clever 
as he is, and having an imagination which seems 
to have given him a number of ideas which blind 
people scarcely ever have from the first moment 
he knew what was pretty and what was ugly. A 
bit of scarlet sealing-wax pleased him at once and 
a piece of coal he thought hideous. He admired 
the beauty of the sky and was disgusted at the 
sight of a frog. Everything that is beautiful 
excites him to an enthusiasm that is almost deli- 
rium ; everything ugly fills him with horror, and 
makes him tremble as we do when we are fright- 
ened. My appearance must have pleased him, 
for he exclaimed as soon as he saw me: "Oh! 
cousin, how pretty you are ! Thank God for hav- 
ing bestowed sight on me so that I can see you !" 
Nela had gently withdrawn her hand from 
Florentina's grasp and fell on the ground as if 
suddenly stricken to death. The young girl bent 
over her, saying in coaxing tones: "Oh ! what is 


it ails you ? Why do you look at me so ?" Ma- 
rianela fixed her eyes on the Holy Virgin's face 
with a miserable stare ; still their expression was 
not one of aversion, but rather a gaze of agonized 
entreaty, like the last look of a dying man implor- 
ing mercy from the image of the Saviour, and 
believing it to be God himself. 

" Senora," murmured the child, "I do not hate 
you no indeed I do not hate you. On the con- 
trary, I love you dearly I adore you." And 
taking up the hem of Florentina's dress she 
pressed it to her dry lips and kissed it fervently. 

"But whoever supposed you would hate me?" 
said the young girl greatly bewildered. " I know 
that you love me. But you frighten me get 
up." ' 

"I do love you, dearly, dearly; I adore you," 
repeated Nela, kissing the feet of her benefactress. 
"And yet I cannot I cannot. ..." 

" What cannot you do for God's sake ! get 
up." Florentina put out her arms to help her up; 
but Nela rose without any assistance, and spring- 
ing away to a safe distance, she repeated, bursting 
into a flood of tears : 

"I cannot Senorita, I cannot." 

"What? in Heaven's name! what has come 
over you ?" 


" I cannot go there." And she pointed to 
Aldeacorba, where the roof of Don Francisco's 
house was visible among the trees. 

" And why ?" 

" The Blessed Virgin knows," replied the child 
with prompt decision. " May the Holy Virgin 
bless you !" She made a cross with her fingers 
and kissed it ; she was registering a vow. 

Florentina took a step towards her and Maria, 
understanding the loving impulse, flew to meet 
her ; she laid her head against her friend's bosom, 
and murmured as she sobbed : " Kiss me for 
God's sake ! give me one kiss !" 

Florentina kissed her tenderly, and then free- 
ing herself with a start, or rather a wild and 
sudden leap, the child or woman fled to a 
brake close at hand; the brushwood seemed to 
open and swallow her up. 

"Nela, Nela little sister!" cried Florentina 
in much distress. 

" Farewell, child of my eyes !" said Nela, turn- 
ing round to look at her once more; and she 
vanished in the copse. 

Florentina listened to the rustle of the 
branches, as the hunter listens to the rush of the 
prey that has escaped him. Then all was silent; 
not a sound was to be heard but the vague mono- 


tone that fills the atmosphere at noon in the open 
country a sound which seems to be the whisper 
of our own thoughts as they go forth towards all 
that surrounds us. Florentina stood amazed, 
powerless, speechless, deeply distressed as if she 
had just seen some fond illusion snatched from 
her gaze. She did not know what to think of it 
all, and even her unbounded kind-heartedness, 
which often crippled her judgment, could supply 
no explanation. 

She had been standing in the same spot for 
some little time, her head drooping, her cheeks 
tingling, and her blue eyes full of tears, when 
Teodoro Golfin happened to come upon her, mak- 
ing his way at an easy pace from Aldeacorba 
homewards. The doctor was greatly astonished 
to find the young lady alone and with an expres- 
sion of vexation and regret which, far from 
diminishing her beauty, added to it and made it 
more interesting. 

" What ails the girl ?" he exclaimed with some 
anxiety. " Why, Florentina, what is the matter ?" 

"A dreadful thing, Senor Golfin," said Flor- 
entina, wiping her eyes. " I was thinking con- 
sidering how many terrible things there are in the 

" And what are these terrible things, Senorita ? 


Where have you been ? Can anything have hap- 
pened to you ?" 

"Provoking things and of all things there is 
one which is more provoking than all the rest." 

" What is that ?" 

" Ingratitude, Senor." And pointing to the 
copse of bramble and fern, she added : " It was in 
that direction." 

She went up to the highest spot at hand to 
see farther into the distance. " Quite out of sight !" 
she said with a sigh. 

" Quite," said the surgeon laughing. " Don 
Manuel told me that you were devoting yourself 
to collecting butterflies. They are ungrateful 
creatures indeed not to wish to be caught by 

" It is not that I will tell you all about it if 
you are going to Aldeacorba." 

" I was not going, as I have just come away, 
fair damsel ; but if you will tell me all about it 
be it what it may I will go back again. I am 
all ears for your story." 




NELA wandered about alone all day, and at 
night she prowled round the house at Aldeacorba, 
creeping as near to it as she dared without running 
the risk of being discovered ; whenever she heard 
footsteps she stole away like a thief. Then she 
went down into the crater of La Terrible, whose 
grewsome aspect somehow suited her gloomy 
mood ; she lingered there some time looking up 
at the stone giants that stood round it, and then 
she climbed up one of them to see the lights of 
Aldeacorba. There they were, sparkling above 
the slopes of the mine against the dark background 
of earth and sky. After gazing at them for a 
while as if her hungry eyes had never seen lights 
before, she quitted La Terrible and went towards 
La Trascava. But before she reached it she heard 
footsteps, and turning round, she saw Master Celi- 
pin coming along the path at a brisk determined 
pace. He had a small bundle hanging from a 
stick over his shoulder, and his step, as well as his 
air and attitude, announced a full determination 


never to stop till he should have paced the whole 
circumference of the globe. 

" Celipe ! Where are you going?" cried 
Nela, detaining him. 

" Nela . . . you out here ! We thought you were 
with Senorita Florentina, eating ham, and turkey, 
and partridges all day long, and drinking lemonade 
and syrups. What are you doing here ?" 

" And you where are you off to ?" 

" You ask me that, now ? Why do you ask 
me since you know quite well," answered the boy, 
jerking the stick and bundle. " You know very well 
that I am going to learn all I can and make money. 
Did I not tell you it would be to-night ? And 
here I am, as glad as can be a little sorry, too, 
when I think that father and mother will cry. You 
see, Nela, the Blessed Virgin favored us to-night, 
for father and mother began to snore sooner than 
usual ; and I had my bundle ready, and I climbed 
up to the window and got out of it. Now are 
you coming or not ?" 

" Yes, I am coming," said Nela with sudden 
decision, taking the arm of the adventurous Celi- 

" We will take the train, and we will go in the 
train as far as we can," said Celipin with liberal 
enthusiasm. "And then we must beg till we get to 


Madrid, where the King of Spain lives ; and when 
once we have got there, you can go as a servant 
in the house of some Marquis or Count, and I 
will go into another, and at the same time I can 
study, and you can have a heap of fine things. 
And I can teach you a little of all I learn 
only a little, not too much ; for you women have 
no need to be as learned as we doctors must 

Before Celipin had ended his speech, they had 
set out on their road, trotting on as fast as though 
they already saw in the distance the turrets of the 
city '"where the King of Spain lives." 

" Let us get out of the regular path," said 
Celipin, his practical talents rising to the occasion : 
" If they see us they will lay hands upon us and 
give us a good thrashing." 

But Nela drew her hand away from her fellow- 
adventurer's, and sitting down on a stone, she 
said : " I am not going." 

" Nela ! what a little fool you are ! You have 
not a brave heart like mine ; a heart as big as the 
rocks in La Terrible !" said Celipin, with a brag- 
gart air. "What the devil are you afraid of? Why 
will you not come ?" 

I oh ! why should I ?" 

" Do not you know that Don Golfin said that 


the work here is turning us all to stones ? I do 
not want to be a stone not I." 

"I why should I go?" repeated Nela with 
disconsolate bitterness. " You have time enough 
for me, it is too late." 

And Nela's head sunk on her breast and she 
sat for some time insensible to the persuasive elo- 
quence of the Hippocrates of the future. The 
idea that she was about to cross the boundary of 
the spot of earth where she had lived so long, and 
where her mother slept the sleep of the dead, 
made her feel as if she were being torn up by the 
roots. The beauty of the place in all its variety 
seemed to claim her by a sort of relationship ; the 
rare and fleeting joys, nay, the very misery she 
had known there ; the memory of her friend and 
of the happy hours when they had walked in the 
woods or sat by the spring at Saldeoro ; all the 
feelings of admiration or of sympathy, of love or 
of gratitude, which had grown and blossomed in 
her soul among these scenes these flowers 
these clouds these rustling trees these frown- 
ing rocks inseparable as it were from the loveli- 
ness or the grandeur, the progress and the immu- 
tability of all these works of nature, were so many 
roots from her heart, and dragging them up from 
the soil was bitter anguish. 



"No I am not going," she repeated. 

And Celipin argued and talked as if, having 
by some miracle reached the goal of his career, 
he belonged to all the academies present and to 

" You are going home then ?" he asked, seeing 
that his oratory was as unavailing as that of the 
academies themselves commonly is. 


" You are going to Aldeacorba ?" 

"No; not there either." 

"Then you will go to where Senora Floren- 
tina lives " 

" No, no not there." 

"The devil's in it but where are you going 
then ?" 

Nela did not answer; she sat looking at the 
ground with an expression of dismay, as if she 
saw there the fragments of the most beautiful and 
precious thing on earth fallen and lying broken 
at her feet. 

"Well then, Nela," said Celipin, exhausted 
with his long harangue, " I must leave you and 
be off, for they might follow me, and find me. 
Would you like me to give you a peseta as a 
parting gift to-night ?" 

"No, Celipin, I want nothing. Go, you will 


be a rich man yet. Take care of yourself and do 
not forget Socartes and your father and mother." 

The traveller had a sensation highly improper 
in a man of so much importance and dignity a 
strong disposition to cry; but swallowing down 
this inopportune emotion, he said : 

" How should I ever forget Socartes ? You 
need not have said that I shall never forget my 
father and mother, nor you, for you helped me to 
do this. Good-bye, Nelilla hark! I hear foot- 
steps !" 

Celipin shouldered his staff with a resolution 
that symbolized his courage to defy all the dan- 
gers of the wide world ; but his valorous display 
was wasted, for a dog only came running up to 

" It is Choto," said Nela, trembling all over. 

" A bad sign !" muttered Celipin, setting for- 
ward ; and he disappeared in the darkness. 

A stone was lost to geology, and the world 
would be the richer by a great man ! 

Nela shivered as the dog leaped upon her and 
caressed her. The affectionate creature, after 
jumping round and round her, whining and bark- 
ing with so much expression that it was almost 
like speaking, set off running as fast as he could 
towards Aldeacorba. You might have thought 


he was in chase of some wild game. Choto 
unlike some orators seemed to speak when he 

Just at this time Teodoro Golfin was coming 
away from the Penaguilas'. He was met by 
Choto, who, with voluble haste, told him I know 
not what. It was a fervent, fitful address, delivered 
between his gasps for breath and gushes of eager 
anxiety. Golfin, though he understood several 
languages, was not strong in the canine tongue, 
and paid no particular heed. Choto leaped up 
and round him, jerking out barks from his moist 
jaws, some short and sharp as insults, others soft 
and coaxing, and then again threats. Teodoro 
meanwhile stood still, his attention was struck by 
the dog's manner; and Choto, seeing that he had 
made himself understood to a certain extent, 
began to run in a contrary direction to Golfin's 
homeward road. The doctor followed him. 
"Very well," he muttered, "that way then." 

Choto retraced his steps, as if to make sure 
that Golfin was following him, and then he trotted 
on again. At some little distance from the house 
Golfin heard a voice saying : 

" Well, Choto, what is it you want ?" 


He suspected at once that it was Nela. He x 
paused and listened, hidden in the shadow of a 
beech-tree, and soon perceived a little figure 
standing out from the stone wall and walking very 
slowly. The shadows of the brambles prevented his 
seeing her very distinctly. He set Out to follow 
her at some little distance, quitting the path and 
walking on the turf, so as to make no noise. Be- 
yond a doubt it was Nela. He recognized her 
perfectly when they got upon open ground, where 
there were no dark shadows cast by trees or shrubs. 

The girl now went faster and faster ; at last she 
began to run, and Golfin ran too. After this un- 
equal race had gone on for some distance, Nela 
sat down on a stone. At her feet was the sloping 
basin of La Trascava, black and hideous in the 
gloom. Golfin waited a moment ; then he very 
softly went nearer to the girl. Choto was seated 
in front of her, squatted on his hind quarters, with 
his fore paw stretched out, and gazing at her with 
the gravity of a sphinx. Nela stared into the 
depths below, and suddenly starting to her feet 
she began to go quickly down the slope slipping 
rather than runmng. With one bound Teodoro 
stood by the abyss, roaring in stentorian tones : 
"Nela! Nela!" 

He looked down, but could see nothing in the 


dark chasm ; he could hear Choto whining as he 
ran round and round the ridge, lower and lower 
in spirals, as if he were being sucked in by some 
eddy in the dreadful gulf. Teodoro thought of 
going down himself and cautiously took a step or 
two ; then he called again, and a voice from below 
answered: "Sefior." 

" Come up this minute." 

No answer. 

"Come up, I say." 

Presently he could just see the child's face in 
the lowest visible depths of the horrible chasm. 
Choto, after snuffing at the opening, came up 
again, round and round the basin as before ; Nela 
too was climbing up, but very slowly. Indeed, 
she stopped, and repeated feebly : " Senor ? . . . " 

" I tell you come up. What are you doing 
here ?" 

Nela came a little further. 

" Come quickly. I have something to tell 

" To tell me ?" 

"Yes something I must tell you at once." 

Nela crawled up; but Teodoro did not feel 
sure that he had triumphed till he had seized her 
hand and held it tightly to lead her away with 




THEY walked on a short distance without 
speaking. Teodoro Golfin, for all his learning, 
wisdom, and eloquence, felt as ignorant and as 
helpless as Nela, and less disposed for speech than 
usual. She followed him unresistingly, and he ac- 
commodated his steps to those of the child- 
woman, like a man taking a boy to school. At a 
turn in the road where three enormous white 
stones stood up, weather-worn till they looked like 
bleached skeletons, the doctor sat down, and plac- 
ing Nela in front of him, as if she were on her 
trial for some grave delinquency, he held her by 
both hands and said solemnly: 

" What were you going to do there ?" 

" I where ?" 

" Down there. You know very well what I 
mean. Answer me plainly, as you would answer 
your confessor or your father." 

" I have no father," replied Nela with a faintly 
mutinous accent. 

" That is true but suppose me to be your 


father, and answer me. What were you going to 

" My mother is down there," she answered 

"Your mother is dead. Do you not know 
that dead people are gone to another world, or 
altogether away ?" 

" She is there," said Nela positively, and look- 
ing back towards the spot she had left. 

" And you thought you would go to her. Is 
that it ? That is to say, you meant to kill your- 

" Yes, Senor, that is it." 

" And do you not know that your mother 
committed a great sin in killing herself, and you 
would do the same if you followed her example ? 
Were you never taught that ?" 

"I do not think anyone ever told me any- 
thing of the kind. And if I want to kill myself, 
who is to prevent me ?" 

" But you yourself without being told 
cannot you feel that God cannot be pleased with 
us for getting rid of our lives ? Poor child left 
to your own instincts without any teaching, or 
religion, or loving and disinterested guidance! 
What ideas can you have of God, of a future life, 
of death ? What makes you fancy your mother 


is there ? Do you call a few lifeless bones your 
mother ! Can you believe that she is still alive, 
thinlzing of you and loving you down in that pit ? 
Did no one ever tell you that when once our souls 
have left our bodies they never return to them again? 
Do you not know that a tomb, a grave, whatever 
it may be, never contains anything but dust and 
foul corruption ? What do you think God is like ? 
Like some grand and solemn man who sits above 
us with his arms folded, and who allows us to 
play with our lives, while, in His place, we see 
some sprite, hobgoblin or fetich of our fancy ? 
Your master, Nela, who is so wise and good, did 
he never talk to you about such things?" 

" Oh ! yes he did. But it is of no use to tell 
me them now. ..." 

" Of no use now when you want to kill 
yourself? TeU me, silly child, did you think that 
by throwing yourself into that hole you would be 
any better off?" 

" Yes, Senor." 

" In what way ?" 

"I should feel none of the things*! feel now, 
but something else, much better and I should be 
with my mother." 

" I see you are more silly than wicked," said 


Golfin laughing. " Now, be quite honest with me. 
Do you owe me any grudge ?" 

"No indeed. I owe no one any grudge 
least of all you, Senor, who have been so kind to 
me, and have made my master see." 

"Very good but that is not all; I not only 
want you to like me, but you must trust me and 
tell me all your little secrets. Strange little secrets 
are hidden in your mind, little woman, and you 
must tell them all to me every one. You will 
see, I shall not be hard upon you ; I shall make a 
very kind father confessor." 

Nela smiled a forlorn smile ; then bending her 
head, she fell on her knees. 

" No, silly child, that is not the way ; sit down 
by me come here," said Golfin, gently drawing 
her to a seat by his side. " I fancy you were go- 
ing crazy for want of some one to whom you 
could tell everything ; is it not so ? And you are 
to conceal nothing. You are indeed alone in the 
world, poor child. Come, Nela, let us see; tell 
me first of all why now be very attentive why 
you took it into your head that you wanted to kill 

Nela did not answer. 

" I saw you happy enough, and content with 
life to all appearance, only a few days since. 


Why have you suddenly gone mad in a single 
night ?" 

" I want to go to my mother " replied Nela, 
after hesitating a moment. " I do not want to live 
any longer. Of what good am I in the world ? 
Is it not much better that I should die ? And if 
God will not make me die, I will kill myself, my 
own way." 

" This notion that you are of no use is at the 
bottom of all your miseries, poor little creature ! 
Curses on him or on them, for they are many 
who ever put it into your head. They are all 
equally responsible for the neglect, the isolation, 
and the ignorance in which you lived. You are 
of no use ! God knows what you might have been 
if you had fallen into other hands ! A refined 
nature is yours, perhaps an exquisitely superior 
one. But good Heavens ! If you put a harp 
into clumsy hands what can they do with it but 
break it. Because your fragile frame is not 
strong enough to break stones and carry earth like 
those brutes in human form Mariuca and Pepina, 
who shall say that you are of no use ? Were we 
all born to toil like mere animals ? Are you to 
be forbidden to have any intelligence, any feeling, 
any of the gifts of nature which no one has ever 
cultivated in you ? Nonsense ! You are of some 


use ; you might be of great good if you only fell 
into hands that could mould you and train you." 

Nela, whose intuition gathered the purport of 
this speech, though the words were beyond her, 
was deeply impressed. She kept her eyes fixed 
on Teodoro Golfin's rugged, shrewd, and expres- 
sive countenance. Her heart was full of astonish- 
ment and gratitude. 

" Still there is a mystery about you," the 
dusky, leonine doctor went on : "The most per- 
fect opportunity was offered you to escape from 
your miserable lot, and you refused it. Florentina, 
who is an angel if ever there was one, was ready 
to adopt you as a friend and a sister; I never knew 
an instance of greater kindness and generosity. 
And what have you done ? Fled from her like a 
wild thing. This is sheer ingratitude or some 
other feeling which I cannot at all compre- 

"No, no, no," cried Nela, much distressed, "I 
am not ungrateful. I adore Senorita Florentina ; 
she seems to me not to be made of flesh and 
blood like the rest of us ; I do not deserve even 
to look upon her. ..." 

" Well, my child, you may mean what you say; 
but from your behavior we can only conclude that 
you are ungrateful most ungrateful. ..." 


" No, no," sobbed Nela. " I am not, indeed 
I am not ungrateful. I was afraid I knew 
that you would all think me ungrateful, and that 
was the only thing that troubled me when I was 
going to kill myself. But I am so stupid; I did 
not know how to ask pardon of the Senorita be- 
fore I ran away, nor how to explain it all." 

" I will make your peace with Florentina ; and 
even if you wish never to see her again, I will un- 
dertake to tell her and convince her that you were 
not ungrateful. Now, open your heart to me and 
tell me everything; what makes you so miserable 
and desperate ? However wretched a human be- 
ing may be however great his misery and lone- 
liness, he does not take his own life unless he has 
some overpowering reason for hating it." 

"No, Senor so it seems to me." 

" Then you hate your life ?" 

Nela was silent for a minute. Then, crossing 
her arms, she exclaimed vehemently. 

"No no. I do not hate it; on the contrary, 
I want to find it !" 

" A pretty way you were going to work to 
look for it !" 

" I thought that when you were dead you 
would have everything you could not get here. If 
not, why is death always, always calling us to 


come ? I have dreams, and when I dream I see 
all who are dead happy and at peace." 

" You believe in dreams ?" 

" Yes, Senor. I look at the trees and the 
rocks that I have seen here ever since I was born, 
and in their face. ..." 

"Come, come the trees and rocks have 
faces ?" 

"Yes everything that is lovely can see and 
speak. And they say to me : ' Come to us die, 
and you will live quite happy.' ' 

" What a lamentable fancy !" Golfin muttered 
to himself. " A perfectly pagan spirit !" 

And he added aloud : 

" But if you want to live, why did you not ac- 
cept Florentina's offer ? I come back to the same 

" Because because what the Senorita of- 
fered me was worse than death !" cried Nela 

" How unjustly you think of her kind charity. 
There are, of course, beings so wretched that they 
prefer a low and vagabond existence to the dignity 
of a superior position. You are accustomed to a 
free life in direct contact with nature, and you 
prefer this debased freedom to the sweet affections 


of home life. Have you been so happy then in 
this mode of life ?" 

" I was beginning to be happy. ..." 

" And when did you cease to be happy ?" 
After a long pause, Nela replied : 

" When you came here." 

"I what harm have I done you ?" 

" None, none nothing but the greatest 

" I have given your master his sight," said 
Golfin, looking at Nela's face with the narrow at- 
tention of a physiologist. " Do you not thank me 
for that ?" 

" Much, Senor, very much," and she gazed up 
at him with eyes full of tears. 

Golfin watched her closely, so as not to miss 
the slightest change of expression which might 
guide him to a comprehension of the girl's feel- 
ings, as he went on : 

"Your master told me that he loved you 
dearly, when he was blind ; and now that he can 
see, he constantly asks for Nela. He knows very 
well that for him the whole outer world was filled 
by one person Nela ; and the sight which has 
been mercifully bestowed on him is of no value to 
him, unless he can use it to see Nela." 

"To see Nela but he never shall see Nela 


Nela will never let him see her !" she exclaimed 

" Why not ?" 

" Because she is so ugly. He may have cared 
for Maria Canela when his eyes were shut ; but 
now that they are open and he can see the 
Senorita, he can never, never care for a poor little 

" Who knows but. ..." 

" It is impossible," she said positively. 

" It is your fancy you cannot tell whether 
your master will be pleased with you or not till 
you try. I will take you to the house." 

"I will not go I cannot go!" she cried, start- 
ing to her feet and standing in front of Teodoro, 
who was utterly astounded at the determination of 
her gesture and the flash of her black eyes, which 
both revealed her resolute nature. 

" Be calm, be easy come here," he said per- 
suasively. " It is true that you are not very pretty 
but a sensible man does not think so much as 
you fancy of mere outside beauty. You are too 
self-conscious, little woman." 

But Nela, paying no sort of heed to the doc- 
tor's moralities, and as resolute in her attitude as 
she was in her opinion, gravely went on as if pro- 
nouncing sentence : 


"There ought to be nothing ugly in the 
world. Nothing that is ugly ought to be allowed 
to live." 

" But, my child, if all we ugly people were to be 
obliged to take ourselves out of the world, it would 
be left almost depopulated. Poor, unhappy, little 
simpleton ! But this notion of yours is not a new 
one. Other persons had it before you, centuries 
ago ; persons with an imagination like yours 
living, as you have lived, in the midst of Nature, 
and lacking the light which your ignorance and 
loneliness have deprived you of, and which they 
had not, because it had not then dawned on the 
world. 3 But you must be cured of this delusion ; 
you must reflect that you have your portion of 
gifts more precious than beauty gifts of the mind, 
which neither fade with time, nor change with the 
caprices of taste. Seek for them in your soul and 
you will find them. They will not perish as beauty f 
would which, seek it as you may in your looking- 
glass, you will never find. But seek out these 
really good and precious gifts; cultivate them, and 
when you see them thriving and blooming, all this 
misery you are suffering will vanish take my 
word for it. And meanwhile you will soon rise 
superior to the wretched situation in which you 
now are, and acquire a beauty which may not per- 


haps charm the eye, but which will be a source of 
pride and happiness to yourself." 

This wise advice was either not heard or not 
heeded by Nela; she sat down again by Golfin and 
gazed fixedly in his face. Her small eyes, more 
eloquent just then than the finest could have been, 
seemed to say : 

" And what is the upshot of all these fine 
speeches, learned Sir ?" 

" Now you see," Golfin went on, warming to 
his subject, and giving it, in spite of himself, the 
character of a psychological lecture there is one 
important question, and that is. ..." 

But Nela had guessed it, and covered her face 
with her hands. 

" There is nothing strange in it on the con- 
trary, it is the most natural thing that could hap- 
pen to you. You have a sensitive temperament 
and an excitable imagination. You and your 
master had led a life together of free and poetic 
communion with nature, and of most perfect and 
innocent intimacy. He is as wise and clever as a 
man can be, and as handsome as a statue. His 
beauty, when blind even, seemed formed to delight 
the eyes of those who could see. His kindness of 
heart too, and generous spirit are enough to charm 
and win the love of any woman. It is not strange 


that they should have captivated you a child so 
womanly or a woman looking so like a child. 
Do you love him so much ? More than anything 
else in the world ?" 

" Yes, yes Senor," the girl sobbed out. 

" And you cannot bear the idea of his ceasing 
to love you ?" 

"No Senor." 

" And he used to say loving words to you and 
make you promises ?...." 

" Yes, oh yes, Senor. He told me I should be 
his companion as long as he lived and and I 
believed him." 

" And why should you not ?" 

" He said he could not live without me, and 
that even if he ever could see he would still love 
me. I was quite happy ; I was ugly, and little, 
and ill- made, but I did not care, for he could not 
see me ; and in his darkness he thought I was 
pretty. And then. ..." 

"Then," said Golfin gently, for he was filled 
with pity. " I see the fault is all mine." 

" Fault, no ; for you did a good deed. You are 
very, very good. It is good to have given him 
his sight. I know, I tell myself, that it is good ; 
but after that I must go away, quite away for he 
will see Senorita Florentina and will compare me 


with her and Senorita Florentina is as pretty as 
the angels, and I it is like comparing a piece of 
broken glass with the sun ! Of what good can I 
be ? I dreamed that I ought never to have been 
born ! Oh why was I ever born ? God made a 
mistake; he gave me an ugly face, and a miserable 
little body, and such a large heart ! But of what 
use to me is a large heart ? It is a torment and 
nothing else. Woe is me ! If I did not keep it 
under, it would hate and detest a great many peo- 
ple. And yet I do not want to hate people I 
do not know how to hate them, and I would rather 
bury my miserable heart than live to learn to hate ; 
bury it, so that it should not torment me any 

" You are tormented by jealousy, and by your 
sense of humiliation. Poor little one, you are in- 
deed alone ! Neither the knowledge you lack, nor 
the home you have never had, nor the work you 
cannot do would avail to save you from this. But 
tell me, what do you feel about the protection and 
kindness that Florentina offers you ?" 

"Terror! Shame!" exclaimed Nela, opening 
her eyes wide in horror. "To live with them 
to see them constantly! For they will marry 
my heart tells me they will marry ; I dreamed it, 
I know it." 


" But Florentina is very kind ; she will love 
you dearly." 

"Yes, and I love her but not at Aldea- 
corba !" cried the girl in wild accents. " She came 
to rob me of what was mine for he was mine 
yes, Senor, he was indeed. Florentina is like 
the Blessed Virgin I will pray to her, yes, 
Senor, and worship her; but I do not want 
her to take away what is my own and she 
will take it away she has taken it away al- 
ready ! And where am I to go to ; what am I, 
what good am I in the world at all ? I have lost 
everything and I want to go to my mother." 

She walked away ; but Golfin seized her as a 
wild beast clutches its prey, and held her tightly 
by the wrist. As he did so he felt her quick and 
fluttering pulse. 

. " Come here," he said. " From this moment, 
whether you like it or no, you are my slave. You 
are mine, and you are to do "nothing but what I 
tell you. Poor little soul, full of eager feeling, of 
fervent fancy, frankness and superstition you 
have a nature framed for all that is good ; but it 
has been ruined by the wild life you have led, by 
neglect and want of training, and even the most 
elementary teaching ! What a hideous state of 
society we live in, which forgets its duties so ut- 


terly, and leaves a precious creature like this per- 
ish! Come here; I am not going to let you quit 
my side. I have hunted you down and caught 
you caught you in a trap in the midst of the 
woods, in some sylvan wilderness, and now I shall 
try to teach you and train you. We will see if this 
rough diamond cannot be cut and polished. Ah ! 
you do not even know how ignorant you are; and 
I shall open a new world to your mind, show you a 
thousand wonderful things that you have never un- 
derstood, though you have a vague and dim idea of 
some of them. Tell me, cannot you feel in your soul 
a germ how shall I explain myself? a bud, of that 
rarest and most beautiful grace : Humility ? The 
mother of all the virtues ; which, strange to say, 
makes us actually happy when* we see ourselves 
subordinate to others ? Have you never felt the 
impulse of self-denial, which makes us rejoice in 
sacrificing ourselves for others, in making ourselves 
small that some one else may become great ? But 
you will learn this, child ; you will learn to lay your 
ugliness at the feet of beauty, to look on with calm 
satisfaction and joy at the triumphs of others, to 
fetter that great wild heart of yours and bring it 
into subjection, so that you shall never feel envy nor 
rage, but will love your neighbor as yourself, and 
rise superior to all who may have injured or hurt 


you. You shall be made all that Nature meant you 
to be when she endowed you at your birth. Hap- 
less child ! Born in a Christian country, and not 
even a Christian ! Your soul dwells in a sort of 
poetic worship of nature. You cannot understand 
me, little one, but so it is. You are in the state of 
those primitive peoples of whom the memory 
even hardly survives governed by your instincts 
and passions, while beauty is your dearest idol. 
Eighteen centuries have been devoted in vain to 
spiritualizing humanity, so far as you are con- 
cerned. And as to the selfish world which has 
left you to such a fate ! What name does it de- 
serve ? You have lived in these mines, a solitary 
soul, not taught a single letter, not even sent to an 
infant school, though you would have learnt little 
enough there ; not even given the most imperfect 
teaching in that religion of which your nation 
boasts. Why, you have never been inside a 
church except to stare at some ceremony which to 
you had no meaning; you cannot even mutter a 
prayer that you understand ; you know nothing of 
the world, or of God, or your own soul. . . . 

" But you shall know all this ; you shall be a 
different creature. You shall no longer be hapless 
little Nela, but a good, and honest, and useful 


It would be rash to assert that Nela had un- 
derstood all this speech, which Golfin declaimed 
with such vehemence and fervor that he entirely 
forgot the person to whom he was speaking. But 
the little outcast felt a curious fascination, and the 
spirit of her friend's utterances sank gently into 
her soul, and soothed it, and compelled her to 
blind assent. His power over the untaught girl 
was that fateful and irresistible control which a 
superior mind exercises over an inferior one. Sad 
but unresisting, her head drooped against the sur- 
geon's shoulder. 

" Come along," Golfin said resolutely. 

Nela trembled from head to foot ; a cold sweat 
stood on her face, and Golfin felt that her hands 
were icy-cold, and her pulses beating violently ; 
but he failed to attribute this physical condition to 
her mental anguish ; he held her hand more firmly 
and repeated : " Come it is cold here." 

His power over her was so great that she rose 
as he did, and they went a little way together. 
But then Nela stopped, and fell on her knees. 

"Oh, Senor !" she cried in an agony: " Do not 
take me away with you." 

She was very pale, and looked wrecked by 
physical and mental misery. Golfin tried to pull 
her up; but her helpless frame did not stir by any 


strength of her own. It was clear she must be 
carried like a senseless corpse. 

" One day," said Golfin, " not very long since, 
almost in this very place, I took you on my shoul- 
ders to carry you. Now I must do the same it 

He lifted her in his arms; her hot breath 
seemed to burn his face. She was drooping, fad- 
ing, dying like a plant torn up from the soil, and 
with its roots laid bare. 

As they got nearer to Aldeacorba, Golfin felt 
some life returning to the dead weight in his arms. 
Nela raised her head, and threw up her hands in 
despair, but she said nothing. 

They went in ; all was silent. A maid servant 
came to meet them, and by Teodoro's desire she 
conducted him noiselessly to Florentina's room. 

Florentina was alone. By the light of a fast- 
dying lamp she was kneeling on the floor, her el- 
bows resting on the seat of a chair, and praying 
with absorbed devotion. She was startled at see- 
ing a man at her door at so late an hour, but her 
alarm at once gave way to surprise, when she saw 
the burden Golfin bore in his strong arms. 

Her astonishment was too great for speech 
when the doctor, carefully depositing his load on 
a sofa, said : 


"I have caught her you see. What do you 
say to that ? Am I a good butterfly hunter ?" 



WE must now go back a few days. 

When Teodoro Golfin first removed the band- 
age for a few moments from Pablo Penaguilas* 
eyes, the boy uttered a cry of terror. Every im- 
pulse made him shrink from all he saw ; he put 
out his hands as though by pushing away one ob- 
ject he could get away farther from the rest. 
Luminous space was to him like a vast void into 
which he felt as if he must fall ; and the instinct of 
self-preservation made him close his eyes to feel 
himself safe. However, his father, the surgeon, 
and the rest of them, persuaded him to try once 
more, for all were equally anxious ; he looked 
again, but his terror was no less. The images of 
all he saw, rushed into his brain with such sudden 
violence and confusion with a sort of storm and 
assault, as it were that he felt as if they were 
falling upon him bodily. The distant mountains 
seemed to lie within reach, and the persons and 


objects that were near him seemed, literally, to 
strike his eyes. 

Golfjn noted these phenomena with the most 
eager interest ; this was the second case of cure of 
congenital blindness which he had had the oppor- 
tunity of studying. The others hardly dared to 
be glad ; they were so bewildered and alarmed by 
the agitating effects produced on the patient by 
the first exercise of the function of sight. To 
Pablo himself it was a series of delightful experi- 
ments. His nerves and his imagination were so 
seriously excited the surgeon thought it prudent 
to compel him to rest. 

"Now," he said, smiling, "you have seen 
enough for to-day. You cannot step out of dark- 
ness into light, into the wide domain of the sun, 
as you would walk into a theatre. This is a new 
birth, with pain as well as joy in it." 

Presently the young fellow was so eager to try 
his newly-found power once more, that Golfin 
consented to open a crack, as it were, upon the 
outer world. 

" My whole mind," said Pablo, trying to ex- 
plain his first impressions, " seems bathed in 
beauty a beauty I had never dreamed of before. 
What were the things which rushed in upon me 
and filled me with terror ? It was the sense of 


size, of space, which I had never before conceived 
of but in a very imperfect manner, and which 
dawned upon me clear and terrible ; as if I were 
being dragged up to the highest mountains and 
down to the deepest abyss. It is all grand and 
beautiful, but it makes me tremble. But I want to 
feel it all once more. All the glory and loveliness 
that I gazed at has made me feel bewildered and 
humbled ; it was like some serene and majestic 
presence bending down to meet me. The whole 
universe seemed to be rushing towards me and I 
was startled and terror stricken the sky looked 
like a vast space, watching, listening I cannot 
put it into words. It was vacancy, but strangely 
full of expression. All that landscape of sky and 
mountains looked at me, came down upon me 
but it was all so cold, and grand, and stern. Let 
me see something delicate, something gentle and 
lovable Nela ! Where is Nela ?" 

Golfin once more relieved him of the bandage, 
and giving him a pair of suitable spectacles, he left 
him free to look about him. 

" Oh ! is that Nela ! Merciful Heaven !" ex- 
claimed Pablo enchanted. 

"This is your cousin Florentina." 

"Ah!" said the lad, coloring with confusion. 
" That is my cousin. I had no idea any person 


could be so beautiful. Oh ! thank God for giving 
me the faculty which enables me to see anything 
so lovely. Cousin Florentina, you are like the 
most lovely music like the most perfect embodi- 
ment of some delicious harmony. And Nela, 
where is she ?" 

"You will have time enough to see her," said 
Don Francisco delighted. " Try now to be 

" Florentina, Florentina !" repeated Pablo ex- 
citedly. " What is it in your face that makes me 
feel as if the spirit of God himself was shining 
through it ? You stand in the midst of a glory 
which must, to be sure, be the sun. Beams, rays 
seem to shine from your face. Ah! at last I 
know what the angels are like and your dress, 
your hands, your hair, seem to fill me with some 
new and strange sensation. What is it ?" 

" He is beginning to see color," muttered Gol- 
fin to himself. " He perhaps perceives every ob- 
ject surrounded by the colors of the spectrum. 
But he cannot estimate degrees of distance." 

" I seem to have you inside my eyes," Pablo 
went on. " You seem to have become part of my 
thoughts, and the sight of you comes upon me like 
a memory ; but a memory of what ? I never saw 
any thing or any body before. Can I have lived 


before I came into this world ? I know not but 
I knew your eyes. And you, father where are 
you ? I have seen you yes I have pictured you 
too you are just what I have loved. And now 
my uncle? You are very much alike. And 
where, where is that dear good Golfin? bless 
him !" 

" Here, minding my patient," said the surgeon 
coming forward. " Here I am as ugly as sin. As 
you have never seen a lion or a Newfoundland 
dog, you can have no idea of my style of beauty. 
They say I am exactly like those two noble 

"All good kind souls !...." said Pablo. 
" But my cousin is the prettiest oh ! infinitely 
the prettiest. But Nela, for pity's sake, where is 
Nela ?" 

They told him that his lazarillo never came 
to the house, and that they had been too busy to 
go to look for her, and he was extremely dis- 
tressed at this intelligence. They succeeded in 
soothing him, and as they feared he might become 
feverish, they persuaded him to go to bed and try 
to sleep. 

The next day he was in a state of great pros- 
tration, but his vigorous nature triumphed over 
everything. He begged to have a glass of water 


and when he saw it, he exclaimed : " I feel as I 
were drinking at the mere sight of water." 

His expressions were equally vivid and pictu- 
resque about everything he saw which struck his 
fancy strongly. After correcting the defective 
sphericity of the eye by means of glasses, which 
he tried one after another, Golfm began to direct 
his attention to the differences and combinations 
of colors, and the young man's sound mind and 
taste never failed in distinguishing the ugly from the 
beautiful. Indeed, he felt these two attributes as 
two absolute and distinct ideas, without connect- 
ing them in any way with any notion of utility or, 
on the other hand, of goodness. A butterfly 
which flew by accident into his room enchanted 
him, but an ink-bottle he thought simply horrible, 
though his father explained to him that it could 
not be otherwise, since its use was to hold ink to 
write with. When he was shown two prints, one 
of the Crucifixion, and one of Galatea riding in a 
shell and escorted by Tritons and Nymphs, he 
preferred the second which was a great scandal 
to Florentina, who promised herself that she would 
teach him to hold sacred things far above every- 
thing profane. He watched their faces with the 
keenest attention, and the wonderful coincidence 
of facial expression with language astonished him 



excessively. When he saw the maids and other 
women about the place, he was greatly annoyed if 
they were ugly or commonplace; indeed, his 
cousin's beauty made him indifferent to any other 
woman. In spite of this he wanted to see them 
all ; his curiosity was like a raging thirst which 
nothing could satisfy. Every day he was disap- 
pointed at never seeing Nela; but he was so fond 
of Florentina that he could not bear her to leave 
him for a moment. 

On the third day Golfin said to him : " You 
have now made acquaintance with a great many 
things the marvels of this visible world. Now 
you must see yourself." 

He brought a mirror, and Pablo looked in it. 

" That is I !" he exclaimed with simple ad- 
miration. " It is difficult to believe it. How have 
I come inside that hard still sheet of water ? What 
a wonderful thing glass is! It seems as if it could 
not be true that men made that stony atmosphere. 
My word! but I am not an ugly fellow! 
What do you say cousin ? And you, when you 
look in this, do you see yourself as pretty as you 
are ? No, impossible. Look up into the sky and 
you will find your image there. You may believe 
you see an angel when you only look at your- 


That evening, when he was alone with her and 
she was giving him some little help he needed 
as an invalid, Pablo said to her : 

" Cousin, my father read me, I remember, a 
passage in history about Christopher Columbus 
who discovered a New World, which no European 
had ever seen before. That navigator opened the 
eyes of the Old World, so that they saw another 
and more beautiful one. I cannot help thinking 
of him as a man like Teodoro Golfin, and of 
Europe as a blind man to whom America and its 
wonders were like a revelation of light. Well, and 
I have seen a New World. You are my America, 
you are that first and lovely island where Colum- 
bus set foot on land. He never saw the continent, 
with its vast forests and immense rivers, and I too 
perhaps have not yet seen what is loveliest of 
all. ..." He broke off and sat sunk in thought ; 
then presently he asked : 

" Where is Nela ?" 

" I cannot think what has come over the poor 
child," said Florentina. " I suppose she does not 
wish to see you." 

"She is bashful and very shy," replied Pablo: 

" She is afraid of troubling us in the house. 

Florentina, I must tell you in confidence, that I 

love her dearly ; you will love her too. I have a 

15 * 


most eager wish to see my good little comrade and 

" I will go and look for her to-morrow morn- 
ing myself." 

" Yes, do but do not be gone long. When 
I do not see you I feel very lonely ; I have be- 
come accustomed to see you, and these three days 
have been centuries of happiness. Do not rob 
me of a minute. Last night my father told me 
that after having seen you I ought never to want 
to see another woman." 

" What nonsense !" exclaimed the girl blush- 
ing. "There are plenty much prettier than I 

"No, no; they all say no." Pablo vehemently 
declared, turning his blindfold eyes towards his 
cousin, as if he could see her even through his 
bandages. " They used to tell me so before, and 
I could not believe it ; but now that I have seen 
the world and know what beauty is, I believe it 
yes indeed I do. You are perfectly lovely ; there 
is no one there can be no one more lovely. 
Give me your hand." And he grasped it eagerly 
in both of his. 

" I laugh now," he went on, " to think of my 
absurd blind man's vanity, of my foolish attempts 
to realize the true aspect of things without seeing 


them. I believe that as long as I live I shall 
never forget the surprise that the reality was to 
me. Reality ! Oh, the man who knows it not is 
blind indeed, a perfect idiot ! Florentina I was 
an idiot." 

" No, cousin, you were always very clever and 
so you are still. But do not let your fancy work 
too vividly now. It will soon be time to go to 
bed. Don Teodoro particularly said that I was 
not to let you talk so late, because it keeps you 
from sleeping ; if you do not keep quiet I shall 
go away." 

" Is it night already ?" 

"Yes, quite night." 

"But day or night I love to talk to you," 
Pablo persisted, tossing over on his bed, on which 
he was lying dressed and very restless. " I will 
be silent on one condition, and that is that you do 
not go away from my side, and that, from time to 
time, you pat the bed with your hand that I may 
know that you are there." 

" Very well, so I will, and this is the first sign 
of life," said Florentina, laughing and patting the 

" When I hear you laugh, I feel as if a breath 
of sweet fresh air blew round me, and all my 
senses help in some way to remind me of you. 


Your image lives in my memory so vividly, that 
even with my eyes bandaged I can see you still 
the same." 

" Will you have done chattering or must I 
fetch Don Teodoro ?" said the girl gaily. 

"No, no stay quiet. I cannot be silent if 
I were to be silent all my thoughts all I can see 
in my brain would only torment me twice as 
much. And you want me to go to sleep ! Sleep ! 
But I have you in here, Florentina, making a tur- 
moil in my brain, and driving me crazy. I am so 
full of joy and rapture that I have no words to 
express them. All last night I fancied I was 
talking to you and to Nela. Poor little Nela ! 
I am most curious to see her. Desperately 

" Well, I will find her to-morrow. Now, have 
done with your talking ; if you do not cease I 
shall go." 

" No, stop. I will only talk to myself. I will 
say all the things I say to you at night when I 
fancy we are alone together I will remember 
what you say to me." 

" I ?" 

" Well, the things I can fancy I hear said in 
your voice Now, do you be silent, Senorita. I 
am alone now with my own imaginings." 


The next day when Florentina came up to 
her cousin's room, she said : 

" I brought Maraquilla up here and she ran 
away. Ungrateful little thing !" 

" And you did not look for her ?" 

" Where was I to look ? She ran away from 
me. This evening I will go out again and hunt 
her till I find her." 

" No, no ; do not go out," said Pablo eagerly. 
" She will come back, she will come of her own 

" She seems out of her mind." 

" Does she know that I can see now ?" 

" I myself told her. But really I am sure she 
has lost her wits. She says that I am the Holy 
Virgin and kisses my dress." 

" That shows that you have produced the same 
impression on her as on every one else. Nela is 
so sweet. Poor little girl ! We must take care of 
her, Florentina, and be kind to her do not you 
think so ?" 

. " She is ungrateful I am afraid," said Floren- 
tina sadly. 

" No, never think so. Nela could not be un- 
grateful. She is a good child I am very fond 
of her. She must be found and brought here to 


" I will go." 

" No not you," said Pablo positively, taking 
his cousin's hand. "Your duty, most undutiful 
cousin, is to take care of me. If Golfin does not 
come soon to take off my bandage and put on my 
glasses, I shall do it myself. I have not seen you 
since yesterday, and I cannot bear it I cannot 
bear it. Is Don Teodoro come ?" 

" He is down stairs with your father and mine. 
He will come up quite soon. Have patience ; you 
are as bad as a school-boy." 

Pablo writhed with irritation. 

" Light, light !" he cried. " It is a crime to 
keep me in the dark so long. I cannot live like 
this I shall die. I want what is the bread of 
life to me ; I want the use of my eyes. I have 
not seen you to-day, cousin, and I am wild to see 
you. I am hungry, thirsty to see you. Oh ! thank 
God for real knowledge ! Thank God for having 
created you, sweetest of women, a combination of 
every beauty. And yet, if after having created 
beauty, God had not given us hearts to feel it, 
how imperfect his work would have been ! Light ! 
light ! . . ," 

Teodoro came up and opened the gates of the 
outer world to him, filling his soul with joy, and 
he passed a quiet day talking of a variety of sub- 


jects. Not till the evening did his thoughts revert 
to that point in his past life, which seemed to be 
diminishing and fading in the distance, like vessels 
which on a clear day are lost on the horizon. It 
was in the tone of a man who recalls some long 
past circumstance, that Pablo asked : " Has not 
Nela made her appearance ?" 

Florentina replied that she had not, and they 
talked of other things. 

In the course of the night, at a very late hour, 
Pablo heard the noise of voices in the house. He 
fancied he heard those of Teodoro Golfin, of 
Florentina, and of his father. But after that he 
slept quietly, though haunted in his dreams by the 
images of all he had seen and the phantoms of all 
he imagined. His dreams, which began tranquilly 
and smilingly, afterwards became agitated and 
painful, for in some deep recess of his soul, as 
though it were a vast cavern suddenly lighted up, 
rose a medley array of the beautiful and the 
hideous forms of the outside world of passions 
awakened and memories buried convulsing his 
whole soul. The following day, as Golfin had 
promised, he left his room to move about the 




THE room which had been assigned to Floren- 
tina at Aldeacorba was the pleasantest in the 
house. No one had used it since the death of 
Pablo's mother ; but Don Francisco, deeming his 
niece worthy to be lodged there, had the room 
neatly arranged and added some little elegancies 
which had been quite unknown to it in his wife's 
lifetime. The balcony looked southwards and 
over the garden, so that the room was always 
flooded with light and perfume, and cheered by 
the happy song of birds. Florentina herself, 
during her few days' stay, had given it the stamp, 
so to speak, of her own individuality ; all sorts of 
small properties and trifles betrayed the nature of 
the woman who lived in it, as you may know a 
bird by its nest. If there are some persons who 
would make a hell of a palace, so there are others 
who have only to enter a hovel to make it a Para- 

It was that very stormy day I say that day, 
for I cannot name the date ; I only know that it 
was a day. It had rained all the morning ; then 


the sky had cleared, and at last, high above the 
misty whiteness of the lower atmosphere, a rain- 
bow threw its glorious arch. One end rested on 
the oaks of Ficobriga, close to the sea, and the 
other on the woods of Saldeoro. Supreme in its 
simplicity the rainbow can be compared to nothing 
else, any more than an absolutely ideal and typi- 
cal form can be. A rainbow is the epitome, the 
alpha and omega, of visible color. 

Florentina was in her room, not threading 
beads, nor embroidering satin with gold thread, 
but cutting out garments from patterns made of 
newspaper. She was squatting on the floor, in 
the attitudes of a fidgetty child at play; now 
sitting on her heels, now on all fours, and plying 
the scissors without a moment's respite. By her 
side was a heap of pieces of woollen stuff, calico, 
cotton print, and other materials that she had been, 
that very morning, to buy at Villamojada, in spite 
of wind and weather ; and snipping here, and cut- 
ting there, she was fast evolving sleeves, skirts, and 
bodies. They were not perhaps models of dress- 
making, nor was the exactitude of the patterns to 
be entirely relied on, for they also were of her 
own devising ; however, she would have been the 
first to acknowledge their shortcomings, and she 
hoped that good- will might conduce to a happy 


result. Her worthy father had said to her, as he 
saw her sitting to work : 

" Bless me, child ! one would think there were 
no dressmakers in the world. You cannot ima- 
gine how it annoys me to see a young lady of 
good position crawling about on the floor with 
shears in her hands. It is not at all the right 
thing. I cannot bear that you should work to 
clothe yourself even, and am I to submit to see 
you working for others ? What are dressmakers 
for heh ? What are dressmakers for ?" 

" A dressmaker would do it much better than 
I shall," replied Florentina laughing. " But then 
you see it would not be my doing, Papa ; and to 
do it myself is the very thing I most want." 

He left her to her own devices; but not alone, 
for in the middle of the alcove, between the bed 
and the wardrobe, stood an old-fashioned sofa and 
on the sofa lay two blankets, and at one end, on 
a pile of pillows, lay a weary little head. The 
face was haggard and colorless asleep. Sunk 
rather, in an uneasy lethargy, broken now and 
again by violent starting and terrors. However, 
a calmer state had supervened by mid-day, when 
Florentina's father came into the room again, fol- 
lowed by Golfin. The surgeon went up to the 
sofa and leaned over Nela, watching her face. 


"She seems to be sleeping more quietly now," 
he said: "We must have no noise." 

" What do you think of my daughter ?" said 
Don Manuel, laughing. " Do you see all the 
trouble she is taking. Now be quite impartial, 
Don Teodoro : Is there any reason why she should 
vex me ? Honestly, when there is no necessity for 
taking so much trouble, why should she do so ? 
What pleasure can it be to me to see my daughter 
wasting all I give her for pin-money ; wasting it 
on others ; and besides this mania for low occu- 
pations for low occupations. . . ." 

" Let her please herself," replied Golfin, looking 
down admiringly at the girl. " Every young lady 
has her own way of wasting her pin-money." 

" And I am not to object if her charity brings 
her to destitution, to bankruptcy !" exclaimed Don 
Manuel, marching up and down the room in pom- 
pous indignation, with his hands in his pockets. 
"Besides, is there no better method of charity than 
this ? She wished to show her gratitude to God 
for my nephew's recovery well and good very 
proper, a very Christian feeling. But we shall see, 
we shall see." 

He stopped in front of Nela and looked at 
her kindly. 

" Now, would it not have been better," he said, 


"' if, instead of bringing this poor girl into the 
house, my daughter had organized one of those 
grand charitable affairs, which are the fashion even 
at court, and which give all the best people in 
society an opportunity of displaying their good 
feeling? Why did you not think of holding a 
lottery ? We could easily have sold any number 
of tickets among our friends, and have collected 
a handsome sum of money to give away to chari- 
table asylums. Why, you might have got up an 
association among the gentry of Villamojada and 
the neighborhood, or have invited all our acquain- 
tance at Santa Irene de Campo to join you, and 
have held meetings and collected a great deal of 
money. Nay, why not have got up a bull-fight ? 
I would have undertaken to provide the beasts 
and the men. Or amateur theatricals? Last 
night Dona Sofia and I were talking of that very 
thing. Learn from her, my dear, learn from her. 
The poor owe more to her than I can tell you. 
There are all the families who live by the em- 
ployment they get in working the lotteries there 
are all the professionals and subordinates who 
make money by the theatrical performances ! Oh ! 
my dear, the paupers in the workhouse are not the 
only poor ! Sofia told me that they made a little 
fortune out of the masked balls they gave this 


winter. A good deal of it was spent, of course, 
in gas, in renting the theatre, in service, and so 
forth still there was a morsel of bread left for 
the poor after all. But, if you do not believe me, 
read the statistics, child read the statistics." 

Florentina laughed, and found no better an- 
swer than to repeat the surgeon's apology for her : 

"Every young lady has her own way of wast- 
ing her pin-money." 

"But Don Teodoro," remonstrated Don 
Manuel, in great disgust: " You must admit that 
no one else does it as my daughter does." 

" I quite admit it," said Golfin with meaning, 
and looking at the girl: " No one is like FJoren- 

"And yet with all her faults," said the 
father, drawing her to him : " With all her faults, 
I love her better than my life. This little hussy is 
worth her weight in gold. Come, tell me, which 
do you like best, Aldeacorba de Suso, or Santa 
Irene de Campo ?" 

" I do not dislike Aldeacorba." 

" Ah ! little puss. I see which way the wind 
blows. Do you know that at this very moment 
my brother is talking seriously to his son ? Family 
affairs ! Well, and something very good is to come 
of it all look, Don Teodoro, at my daughter's 


face ; it is as red as roses in May. Now, I am off 
to hear what my brother has to say what my 
brother has to say." And the worthy man de- 

Golfin went back to Nela. 

" Did she sleep last night ?" he asked. 

" Very little. I heard her sobbing and crying 
all night. But to-night she shall have a good bed, 
for which I have sent to Villamojada, and I will 
put her in the little room next to mine." 

" Poor little Nela !" said the doctor. "You can- 
not imagine what an interest I feel in this hapless 
creature. Some people would laugh at it, but we, 
at any rate, are not made of stone. What little 
we have done to improve the condition of this 
poor child, ought to be done for a large propor- 
tion of the human race. There are many thou- 
sands of beings in the world in the same plight as 
Nela. Who knows them ? where are they ? They 
are lost in the desert of society for society has 
its deserts in the dark places of life, in the soli- 
tudes of field labor, in mines, in factories. We 
pass them without even seeing them we give 
them alms, perhaps, but without knowing them. 
How are we to be cognizant of so base a class of 
humanity ! At first Nela attracted me because I 
thought that hers was an exceptional nature; but. 


as I have thought more, I have felt that hers is 
after all only one of the commonest cases. It is 
an instance of the condition to which a highly- 
organized moral nature must be reduced, a nature 
apt for good, apt for learning, apt for virtue, but 
which can never develop its powers in the neglect 
and isolation to which it is condemned. They 
live blind in spirit, just as Pablo Penaguilas lived 
blind in body, though he possessed the latent 
faculty of sight." 

Florentina was listening with eager sympathy 
and intelligence to the surgeon's speech. 

" Look at her," he went on : " There she lies ; 
she has a beautiful fancy, acute feelings, and can 
love with devotion and tenderness. She is gifted 
with a remarkable aptitude for every grace of 
mind, while, at the same time, she is full of the 
grossest superstitions; her religious ideas are 
vague, monstrous, and heterodox, and her moral 
sense needs guidance as much as her natural in- 
telligence. She has had no education but what 
she has been able to give herself; like a tree that 
gets no nourishment but that of its own withered 
and fallen leaves, she owes absolutely nothing to 
any one else. In all her life she has never been 
taught a single lesson, never heard a word of lov- 
ing counsel, nor a precept of pious dogma ; she is 



guided entirely by ill-understood examples which 
she adapts to her own instincts and desires. Her 
criticisms are all her own, and as she is full of 
imagination and feeling, and the strongest native 
impulse of her soul is to worship something, she 
has worshipped Nature, after the fashion of primi- 
tive races. All her ideals are naturalistic and if 
you do not quite understand what I mean, dear 
Florentina, I must explain myself more exactly 
another time. 

" She has a really artistic passion for form and 
beauty. Her whole nature and her affections all 
centre round this idea. The gifts and graces of 
the mind are to her an unknown realm of beauty, 
a hardly- discovered land, of which she knows only 
so much as some traveller might of a new country 
on whose shores he had been shipwrecked. The 
great news of the gospel the greatest achieve- 
ment of the spirit of humanity has hardly even 
sounded in her ears ; she has the same faint sus- 
picion of it that Asiatic nations may have of 
European culture and if you do not quite under- 
stand me, dear Florentina, I must explain myself / 
more exactly another time. 

"But she is very capable of making rapid 
progress in a short time, and of rising to a higher 
level, nay to our own. Show her a little light and 


she will fly across the centuries she has wan- 
dered from the track, and cannot see far, but give 
her light and she will find her way again. No 
one yet has ever put the torch in her hand, for 
Pablo Penaguilas, in his own ignorance of all ex- 
ternal truth, contributed largely but unconsciously 
to increase her errors. Such a fantastic and 
extravagant idealist was not the best master for a 
nature like hers. We must set truth before the 
poor child, who is like a being raised from the 
dead of a remote past ; we will teach her to know 
the graces of the mind ; we will bring her down 
to our own century; we will give her soul a 
strength which as yet it has not, and put a noble 
Christian conscience in the place of her savage 
naturalism and wild superstitions. We have an 
admirable field to work in, a virgin soil on which 
to sow the seed of centuries of growth. We may 
make time fly fast over her head, showing her the 
truth it has revealed, and so create a new being 
for indeed, dear Florentina, it is the same thing as 
creating a new being and if you do not quite 
understand me, I must explain myself more ex- 
actly another time." 

Florentina, though she made no pretensions 
to learning, thought that she did understand what 
Golfin had meant by his quaint and original 



harangue. She herself was about to add some 
remarks on the subject ; but at that moment Nela 
woke. Her eyes timidly wandered round the 
room, and then rested alternately on the two faces 
that looked down at her. 

" You are not frightened ?" said Florentina 

"Frightened no Senora; you are very kind 
and the Senor too." 

" Are you not glad to be here ? what are you 
afraid of?" 

Golfin took her hand. " Speak frankly and 
truly," he said : "Which of us do you like best 
Florentina or me ?" 

Nela made no reply, and the others smiled ; 
but the child remained moodily grave. 

"Now, listen to me, you silly little thing," the 
surgeon went on : " You have to make up your 
mind to live with one of us. Florentina will stay 
here ; I shall go away. Decide for one or the 
other which do you like best." 

Marianela looked from one to the other with- 
out finding any definite answer ; finally her eyes 
rested on those of Golfin. 

" I believe I am the man of her choice. But 
that is not fair to Florentina, Nela ; she will be 


The poor child smiled and, putting out a feeble 
hand to Florentina, she murmured : 

" I do not want to vex her." 

But even while she spoke she turned ashy 
pale ; she strained her neck, her eyes seemed start- 
ing out of her head she was listening to a sound- 
that was full of terrors to her. She had heard 

" He is coming !" exclaimed Golfin, sympa- 
thizing in his patient's alarm. 

"Yes, here he comes!" cried Florentina, and 
she flew to the door. 

It was he. Pablo had opened the door and 
walked softly into the room straight in, from 
the habit he had acquired during years of blind- 
ness. He came in smiling, and his eyes, freed 
from the bandage, which he had himself removed, 
looked straight before him. They were as yet 
unaccustomed to the muscular action which makes 
them turn, and were hardly aware of objects lying 
out of the direct line of vision. It was literally 
true of him as it is of many who never were 
blind in their lives that he only saw what was 
directly under his eyes. 

" Cousin !" said he going towards her: "Why 
have you not been to see me to-day? I have had 
to come to look for you. Your father told me 


you were doing some work for the poor so I 
suppose I must forgive you." 

Florentina did not know what to say; she 
was annoyed. Pablo had not observed either 
Golfin or Nela, and Florentina, intending to keep 
him from approaching the sofa, went towards the 
window; then, picking up some pieces of stuff, she 
sat down as if she were going to sew. The full 
light of the sun fell upon her, shedding a vivid 
glow on all her left side and giving the most 
charming relief to her pretty head with its russet 
brown hair. Her beauty seemed radiant; like 
the very personification and incarnation of light. 
Her hair was somewhat in disorder, and her thin 
morning dress followed the graceful lines of her 
slender figure, while her simple and dignified pose 
was worthy of the noblest ideals of art. 

" Cousin," she said with a slight frown on her 
pretty brow, " Don Teodoro has not yet given 
you leave to-day to take your bandage off. That 
is not right." 

" He will give me leave presently," said the 
young man laughing. ' And it cannot hurt me; 
I am really quite well. And if it did do me 
harm, I should not care. No, I should not 
care if I became blind again, after having seen 


"And what good would that be to you ?" said 
Florentina reprovingly. 

" I was alone in my room, my father is gone 
out after speaking to me about you. You know 
what he said." 

" No, I know nothing about it," said the girl, 
with her eyes fixed on her work. 

"But I know. My father is very kind and 
reasonable, and we are very fond of each other. . . . 
Well, when my father had left me, I took off the 
bandage and looked out at the fields ; I saw the 
rainbow and I felt quite overcome with admira- 
tion, and with religious feeling too, Florentina 
I do not know why that grand spectacle, which I 
had never seen before, should have given me so 
intense a feeling of the harmony of creation. I do 
not know why, looking at the perfect blending of 
its colors, I could not help thinking of you. 
I do not know why, as I saw the rainbow, I said 
to myself: ' I have felt this all before.' I felt 
again exactly as I felt when I first saw you, Flo- 
rentina, my darling. My heart seemed ready to 
burst my bosom, and I could not help crying. 
I cried a great deal and my tears blinded me again 
for a few minutes I called you and you did not 
answer when I could see again, the rainbow had 
vanished. I went to look for you, I thought you 


were in the garden I went down stairs, up stairs, 
and here I am. And now, here, I find you so 
lovely that I feel as if I had never seen you 
rightly till to-day never till to-day, because now 
I have had time to learn to compare you with 
others. I have seen several women, and they are 
all horrible by your side. I find it hard to believe 
that you have lived through the years of my 
blindness. Nay, nay. What I believe is that you 
came into being at the moment when light dawned 
upon my comprehension ; that my own mind 
created you at the moment when I first was lord 
of the visible world. They had often told me that 
there was not a living creature to compare with 
you, and I would not believe it but I believe it 
now, as surely as I believe in the light of heaven!" 

And as he spoke he fell on one knee. 

Florentina, startled and abashed, looked up 
from her sewing. 

" Cousin for pity's sake !" she murmured. 

"Cousin for pity's sake!" exclaimed Pablo, 
with frank enthusiasm. "Why, why, are you so 
lovely ? My father is most reasonable ; I can say 
nothing against his arguments or his kindness. 
Florentina, do you know I thought I could never 
love you ; I thought I could love some one not 
you. But what can I do ? Thank God my love 


and my reason are one ! My father, to whom I 
confessed my mistake; told me that I had loved a 
hideous monster. But now I can say that I wor- 
ship an angel. The ignorant blind man can see, 
and at last pay due homage to real beauty. And 
yet I cannot help trembling do you not see me 
tremble ? Seeing you I have but one desire, and 
that is, to take you in my arms and clasp you to 
my heart, enfolding you, holding you tightly 
very tightly." 

And Pablo, who was now kneeling on both 
knees, clasped his arms across his breast. 

" Oh ! I do not know what I feel !" he went 
on, stammering, and turning pale with agitation. 
" Every day I discover some new world, Floren- 
tina. First I discovered the world of light, to-day 
I have discovered another. Is it possible that 
you, so lovely so divine are to be mine, the 
wife of my heart ?" 

He seemed about to fall to the ground in a 
fainting-fit, and Florentina leaned forward to sup- 
port him. " Pablo took her hand, then lifting her 
wide loose sleeve, he kissed her wrist and arm 
with eager passion, counting the kisses. 

" One two three four ah ! I am 
dying !" 

"Be quiet, stop," cried Florentina, standing 


up, and making her cousin rise too. " Doctor 
Golfin will you scold him." 

"Your bandage on, at once!" cried Teodoro : 
" Go to your room and keep quiet." 

The young man, in the utmost confusion turned 
to that side of the room and brought his eyes to 
bear on the surgeon, standing by the sofa that 
was covered with blankets. 

" Are you here, Don Teodoro ?" he said going 
up to him. 

"Yes, I am here," said Golfin very gravely. 
" You ought to go back to your room and put the 
bandage on again. I will go with you." 

" I am perfectly well but, of course, I will 
obey only, first let me see what is here." 

He was looking at the blankets and, between 
them, at a ghastly head, anything but fair to look 
upon. In fact Nela's nose seemed to have become 
sharper, her eyes smaller, her mouth less well- 
formed, her face more freckled, her hair thinner, 
and her forehead lower. Her eyes were closed, 
she breathed with difficulty, her livid lips were 
parted, and the hapless child seemed to be at her 
last gasp, with the look of death on her face al- 

" Ah !" exclaimed Pablo : " My father told me 
that Florentina had given shelter to some poor 


creature. How good of her ! You poor child, 
you may be thankful, for you have fallen into the 
hands of an angel ! Are you ill ? In my house 
you shall want for nothing ; my cousin is the very 
image of God on earth. This poor child is very 
ill ; is she not doctor ?" 

"Yes. . ." said Golfin, "she must be left alone 
and hear no more talking." 

"Then I am gone." 

Pablo put out his hand and laid it on the 
head which seemed to his unaccustomed eyes the 
most terrible symbol of all human misery and 
wretchedness. Nela raised her eyes and fixed 
them on her master. Pablo felt as if they gazed 
at him from the depths of a tomb, so profound 
was their expression of sorrow and despair ; then 
Nela freed one hand from beneath the coverings 
a feeble, burning, rough little hand and took 
that of the young man. At her touch Pablo 
shuddered from head to foot, and uttered a cry 
that came from his very soul. 

There was a terrible pause one of those lulls 
which precede the catastrophes of life as they do 
the convulsions of nature, as though to add to 
their solemnity. 

Then, in a quavering voice that thrilled the 
by-standers with its tragical sadness, Nela spoke : 


" Yes, Senorito mio" she said, " I am 

Slowly, and as if she were lifting some too 
heavy weight, she raised her master's hand to her 
dry lips and kissed it kissed it again and then, 
with a third attempt, her lips remained motionless 
on the lad's hand. 

They were all silent looking at her. The first 
to break the silence was Pablo. 

"Is this you. . . ." he said, "you. . . ." And 
the thoughts that crowded on his mind checked 
his utterance of any. He would have liked to dis- 
cover some new language in which to utter them, 
just as he had already discovered the two new 
worlds of light, and of the love of external 
beauty. He could do nothing but look at her 
look at Nela and remember that darkened world 
in which he had lived, his passions and the dreams 
and errors of his blindness all wandering and lost 
in its obscurity. Florentina, wiping away her 
tears, leaned over Nela to look into her face, and 
Golfin, watching her and knowing too well what 
he saw, exclaimed in a voice like a knell : 

" It has killed her. The sight of you has killed 
her!" then turning to Pablo he said sternly: 
" Go, at once, to your room." 

" Dying ! dying so, without any cause !" cried 


Florentina in despair, and laying her hand lightly 
on Nela's brow. 

" Maria !" she said, " Marianela !" 

She called her by her name again and again, 
leaning over her and looking at her, as we might 
look over the margin of a well at some one who 
has fallen into it and who is drowning in the depth 
and blackness of its waters. 

" She does not answer !" said Pablo, horror- 

Golfin, watching her ebbing vitality, perceived 
that her pulse still throbbed under his touch. 
Pablo bent over her, and putting his lips close to 
her ear, he called her once more : 

" Nela, Nela my friend my dear !" 

She turned a little, opened her eyes, and 
moved her hands. She looked as if her spirit had 
returned from some far away flight. Seeing Pablo's 
gaze fixed upon her with anxious curiosity, she 
turned aside abashed and alarmed, and tried to 
hide her face as if she were a guilty thing. 

" What is the matter with her ?" asked Floren- 
tina vehemently. " Don Teodoro, save her if you 
are a man. If you do not save her you are a 
charlatan ! . . . " 

The young girl's charitable instincts were spur- 
ring her to positive rage. 


" Nela !" repeated the lad in the deepest dis- 
tress, and not yet recovered from the shock which 
the sight of his 'little comrade had given him : 
"You seem to be afraid of me what have I 
done to you ?" 

The dying girl put out her hand to clasp Floren- 
tina's, and pressed it to her breast, and then she did 
the same with Pablo's ; afterwards she once more 
pressed them both with all the strength she could 
command. Her sunken eyes looked from one to the 
other, but her gaze was vague and remote; it 
seemed to come from some inner depth of dark- 
ness and despair, as though she were indeed the 
drowning wretch in the well, sinking lower every 
instant. Suddenly her breathing became difficult; 
she sighed, and clutched the two hands she held 
with convulsive energy. 

Teodoro had turned the house upside down ; 
had sent for medicines and powerful stimulants, 
and was doing all in his power to arrest the swift 
extinction of this young life. 

" It is hard," he said, " to stop a drop of water 
that is trickling, falling away down, down, and 
within an inch or two of the great Sea. But I 
will try." 

He sent away every one but Florentina, whom 
he kept in the room. But the stimulants and 


irritants with which he endeavored to bring back 
ebbing life to the frail body, only served to restore 
some little muscular action, and in spite of this 
she was sinking every minute. 

" It is cruelty !" cried Golfin desperately, as he 
snatched away the mustard and the irritants. 
" We are tormentors and torturers. It is like set- 
ting dogs on 'a dying man that the pain may keep 
him alive to suffer. Away with it all !" 

" And is there nothing to be done ?" 

" Nothing but what God will do." 

" But what is the matter with her ?" 

" Death !" he shouted with a delirious rage of 
grief, ill-befitting a medical man. 

" But what illness is it that has brought her to 
death ?" 

" Death !" he repeated. 

" You do not understand me ; I want to know 
of what. . . . ?" 

" Of death. How can I tell you whether it 
is shame, or jealousy, or wounded pride, or grief, 
or disappointed love, that has killed her? A strange 
catalogue of symptoms ! No, no we know noth- 
ing nothing but useless details." 

"What! Doctors!" 

" I tell you we know nothing a little on the 
surface that is all." 


" And this, what is this ?" 

"A sudden attack of inflammation menin- 
gitis perhaps." 

" And what is that ?" 

" A name. . . . Death !" 

" But is it possible that any one should die 
like this without any known cause, without any 
sort of disease ? Oh ! Don Teodord, what is the 
matter with her ?" 

" How should I know ?" 

" But you are a doctor ?" 

"Of eyes not of passions." 

" Passions !" exclaimed Florentina, looking 
down at the senseless girl. "You poor child 
what passions are you dying of?" 

"Ask your future husband." 

Florentina stood lost in utter amazement 

"Poor thing!" she cried with a choked sob. 
" Can mere grief kill in this way ?" 

" When I picked her up at la Trascava she 
was in a high fever." 

" But that is not enough ; no, not enough to 
kill her !" 

" You say it is not enough. God and Nature 
say that it is." 

" It is as if she had been stabbed." 

" Remember what those eyes now closing 


forever saw a short while since. Remember 

that a blind man loved her and that he is blind 

no longer; that he has seen her seen her ! The 

shock was a death-blow. ..." 

" Oh what a terrible mysterious. . . . H 

" No, it is no mystery," cried the surgeon, 

almost wildly. " It is tha awful collapse of tin 

illusion^ the rude"^fjlow of reality] the miserable 
^destroyer which has come between two nokle 1 ) 

souls. And I I brought that reality home to ' 

them !" 

" Oh it is a wretched mystery !" repeated 

Florentina, not understanding the current of .his 


" A mystery ? No," repeated Teodoro with 
increasing agitation : " It is bare reality ; the sud- 
den swallowing up of a whole world of illusions. 
Reality to him meant a new life to her, anguish, 
suffocation, humiliation, sorrow, contempt, an 
empty life, jealousy, Death !" 

"And all for " 

" And all for one pair of eyes opened to see 
light and reality. Reality! I cannot get the 
word out of my brain. It seems to be written 
there in letters of fire." 

"All for one pair of eyes. And grief can kill 



so quickly without giving us time to try a 
remedy ?" 

" I do not know," said Golfin, bewildered, con- 
founded, helpless, in view of the mystic characters 
of the Book of Life and Death, which science 
may pore over but may not decipher its dark rid- 

" You do not know !" cried Florentina desper- 
ately. " Then why are you a doctor ?" 

" I do not know, I do not know !" he reiterated, 
striking his dishevelled head with his heavy hands. 
"Yes, one thing I know, and that is that we 
know nothing but the skin-deep phenomena^ of 
"file! I I am a menHer ofeyes and nothing 

He fixed his gaze with absorbed attention on 
the little figure which was hovering on the border- 
land between a living woman and a corpse. " Soul !" 
he exclaimed in a tone of bitter questioning : 
" WJiat is passing in you now ?" 

Florentina burst into tears. 

" The soul !" she murmured, and her head 
drooped on her breast : " It is fled !' 

" No. . . " said Teodoro, taking Nela's hand. 
" There is still some life left but so little, that it 
would seem as if the soul were indeed far away 
and had left only the breath behind." 


" Lord have mercy !" exclaimed the young 
girl and began to pray. 

" Alas ! hapless spirit !" murmured the sur- 
geon. "You were but ill-lodged indeed. . . .". 

They both bent over her, watching her closely. 

" Her lips are moving," cried Florentina. 
" She is speaking." 

Yes, her lips parted; she _ said something a 
word, two, three. 

" What is she saying ?" each asked the other ; 
but neither of them could understand her. 

She spoke perhaps in the tongue that is known 
to those who live the life eternal. 

This was the end; her lips moved no more; 
they remained half- open showing a row of little 
white teeth. Teodoro bent over her and, kissing 
Nela's forehead, he said in a steady voice : 

"Woman, you did well to quit this world." 
But Florentina's voice was choked with tears and 
sobs as she said : " I wanted to make her happy, 
and she would not be." 




STRANGE and wonderful to tell ! Nela, who 
had never in her life had a room, nor clothes, nor 
shoes, nor food, nor sympathy, nor relations, nor 
any earthly thing of her own, not even a name 
was buried in a style which caused no small 
amount of envy among the living in Socartes. 
This posthumous splendor was the bitterest irony 
ever known in these metalliferous regions. Seiior- 
ita Florentina, acting on her generous impulses, 
consoled herself for the disappointment of not 
having been able to help Nela alive, by the satis- 
faction of doing honor to her hapless remains after 
death. Some hard-hearted materialists criticised 
her severely ; but, for our part, we regarded it as 
an additional proof of her refined kind-hearted- 

When Nela was carried to the grave, the 
curious who came to gaze at her, thought her 
almost pretty wonderful to say ! At least so 
they said. It was the first time a compliment 
had ever been paid her. The funeral was mag- 
nificent, and the priests of Villamojada opened 


their mouths wide in astonishment when they 
found themselves receiving money to pray for the 
soul of La Canela's daughter. It was bewildering, 
amazing, to think that a being whose social im- 
portance had been about equal to that of a worm 
or a fly, should prove the occasion of so much 
burning of tapers, of so much hanging of drapery, 
and of making so many choristers and sacristans 
hoarse. Nay, it was so astounding as to be posi- 
tively amusing ; nothing else was talked of for at 
least six weeks. 

The surprise, and indeed to be frank the 
indignation of this worthy little world, culminated 
one day when two waggons, loaded with enor- 
mous blocks of fine white stone, were descried 
approaching by the high-road. In Senana's mind, 
particularly, a hideous subversion of ideas took 
place, a cataclysm resulting in mental chaos, when 
she brought herself to believe that those fine white 
stones were to build Nela's tomb. If an ox had 
taken to flying or her husband to making speeches, 
it could not have roused her from her stupefac- 

The parish registers of Villamojada were 
searched, for of course it was indispensable that 
she should have a name now she was dead, though 
she had done without one during her life ; as is 


proved by this very history, where she has borne 
various names. And this indispensable requisite 
having been found, and duly placed on the 
records of the dead, the magnificent tomb, which 
stood up proudly among the rustic crosses of the 
graveyard at Aldeacorba, had this epitaph en- 
graved on it : 

R. I. P. 



OCTOBER THE izth, 186 . . . 

And a wreath of flowers prettily carved in the 
marble, crowned the inscription. Many months 
later, when Florentina and Pablo Penaguilas had 
been some time married and no one to tell the 
truth, for truth is the first consideration no one 
in Aldeacorba de Suso remembered Nela any 
longer, some travellers of the tourist genus, in 
crossing that part of the country, happened to 
observe the grand marble sepulchre erected in the 
cemetery by the piety and affection of an exem- 
plary friend, and were struck with admiration. 
Without more ado they proceeded to write down 
in their note-book these remarks, which were sub- 


sequently published under the title of " Sketches 
from Cantabria," in an English newspaper. 

"The most remarkable, object to be seen at 
Aldeacorba is a magnificent monument, erected 
in the cemetery over the grave of a young lady 
of rank, famous in that part of the country for her 
beauty. Dona Mariquita Manuela Tellez be- 
longed to one of the noblest and wealthiest 
families in Cantabria, that of Tellez Giron y de 
Trastamara. Witty, romantic, and capricious, she 
took a fancy to wander about the roads, playing 
the guitar and singing Calderon's odes, and she 
would dress herself up in rags to enable her to 
mix with the herd of beggars, pick-pockets, trou- 
badours, bull-fighters, friars, hidalgos, gypsies, and 
muleteers, which at the great kermesas, constitute 
that motley scene of Spanish low life which still 
exists and always must exist, independent and 
picturesque, in spite of the railways and newspa- 
pers which have begun to force their way into the 
Spanish Peninsula. 

"The abad* of Villamojada wept as he told us 
of the whims, the virtues, and the beauty of this 
wealthy gentlewoman, who, whenever she ap- 
peared at the balls, banquets, or canas of Madrid, 
was distinguished for her aristocratic deportment. 

* In some provinces the rector of a parish. 


The number of romanceros, sonnets and madrigals 
composed in honor of this noble damsel by all the 
Spanish poets, is beyond all calculation."* 

On reading this I saw at once that the worthy 
reporters had dreamed dreams. I determined to 
tell the truth, and the truth, as I have told it, has 
resulted in this book. 

We must now bid farewell forever to this tomb. 
We will fix our eyes on another object, seek out 
another figure searching diligently, for he whom 
we want is but a small personage, a minute insect, 
as it were, no larger on the face of the earth than 
the Phylloxera on the vine. But we have found 
him there he is, tiny, squalid, a mere atomy. 
But he lives and breathes, and will grow great in 
time. Listen to his story, for it is an interesting 
one I promise you. 

Well, Sir 

But no ; it does not belong to- this book. If 
you like the history of Marianela, in good time 
you shall hear that of Celipin. 


* The point of this passage in the original is the misuse of Spanish 
words and the introduction of others which are not Spanish. Thus 
Hidalgo means a nobleman ; and Kermesas, FT., Kermesse, Dutch, 
Kermis, is a name for a fair peculiar to Holland and Belgium. 



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Containing nearly 600 Historical Notes and References. 

"We owe to Eckstein the brilliant romance of ' Quintus Claudius,* 
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any analysis, a literary production teeming with instruction and inter- 
est, full of plastic forms, and rich in the most dramatic changes of 
mood." Pester Lloyd. 


Price, In paper covers, - - Sl.OO per set. 
in cloth binding, - - 1.75 


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"'Aspasia' is a poem, which seems to have been accidentally clad 
in the garb of prose. Every portion of it is permeated and trans- 
figured by the loftiest ideas of humanity. Yet what we particularly 
admire in this brilliant work is the great skill with which the Greek 
local coloring is reproduced. Hamerling, in this, his latest creation, 
proves himself to be a delineator of mankind par excellence. The 
description of characters is as truthful as it is interesting. 'Aspasia' 
is a historical picture; for the incidents and persons within the limits 
of the story are in the main historical, only the minor accessories being 
imaginary. The whole action revolves about the central figure of 
'Aspasia,' who stands forth with majestic grandeur. No reader will 
be able to escape the lofty, poetic charm of the book." 

Europa, (Leipsic). 

" It is one of the great excellencies of this romance, this lofty song 
of the genius of the Greeks, that it is composed with perfect artistic 
symmetry in the treatment of the different parts, and from the first 
word to the last is thoroughly harmonious in tone and coloring. 
Therefore, in 'Aspasia,' we are given a book, which could only pro- 
ceed from the union of an artistic nature and a thoughtful mind a 
book that does not depict fiery .passions in dramatic conflict, but with 
dignified composure, leads the conflict therein described to the final 
catastrophe." Allgemcine Zcitung. (Augsburg). 


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" Antinous, a Romance of Ancient Rome, from the 
German of George Taylor, by Mary J. Safford, is one 
of those faithful reproductions of ancient manners, cus- 
toms and scenery which German authors are so fond of 
writing, and in which they are so wonderfully successful. 
The story deals with the old age of the Emperor Hadrian 
and with his favorite Antinous. The recital is full of 
power, and is extraordinary in its vividly realistic draw- 
ing of character. Though a minutely close study of 
historical detail, it is spirited in the telling and of ab- 
sorbing interest in the plot and descriptions. The era 
and the personages stand out with stereoscopic clearness. 
Nothing could be finer than the portrait of the melan- 
choly Hadrian and its beautifully-contrasted fellow 
picture, the sorrowful Antinous. The book is one that 
appeals to every cultivated taste, and overflows with 
interest of the most refined description." Saturday 
Evening Gazette, Boston, July i, 1882. 


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IE ILi I .A. 3ST IE 




" We have before us an excellent specimen of the 
better class of French novels. It is ' Eliane, ' by 
Madame Augustus Craven. It illustrates in a very 
charming way the various results of the French system 
of making courtships and marriages. The book is a 
very charming one, which we have read with pleasure." 
The Mail, Toronto, Aug. n, 1882. 

" It is not only pure, but is, we believe, a trustworthy 
description of the dignified French life of which it is a 
picture. ' Eliane' is one of the very best novels we have 
read for one or two seasons past." The American Lit. 
Churchman, Baltimore, August i, 1882. 

" ' Eliane' is interesting, not only because it is such a 
record of the best kind of French life and manners as 
could only have been written by a person thoroughly 
at home in the subject, but also because of the delicate 
drawing of character which it contains. The book is 
quiet in tone, and may fail to please readers who care 
for nothing but incident; but there are, it may be hoped, 
still many readers to whom its grace and fine style will 
recommend it." London Sat. Review, June 3, 1882. 


Price, in paper cover, ... 50 cents, 

in cloth binding, - - - 9O 


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" It is an attractive little novel, spirited in plot, and 
marked by a charming grace in the telling. It is at 
once bright, witty and delicate, is simple in design, but 
has a marked dramatic interest. The characters are 
brilliantly sketched, the dialogue is spirited, and there is 
an unconventionality in the work as a whole that makes 
it thoroughly delightful reading." Boston Saturday 
Evening Gazette, May 28, 1882. 

" There is more to the work than appears on the 
surface, many passages being fruitful subjects for psycho- 
logical meditation. The characters are all well drawn, 
especially those of the serious-minded prior, the obese 
and tractable uncle, and the grandiloquent sub-prefect. 
The author is an unusually good painter of human nat- 
ure, and the ease and naturalness of his style is refresh- 
ing. No fault is to be found with the translation." 
Boston Evening Transcript, May 20, 1882. 


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A Whimsical Wooing 



Author of "The Eleventh Commandment." 


"Some months ago we had occasion to praise a pleas- 
ant novel of modern Italian life by the author of the 
above story. The present is not less deserving of praise. 
It is just the very thing to play as an afterpiece. Cast 
into purely dramatic form indeed, without any change 
at all it would form a sparkling little comedietta for a 
private theatrical party. The little volume is most 
charming ; it is very brief, but every line sparkles ; and 
we find it all too short." Toronto Mail. 

" ' A Whimsical Wooing ' is the richly-expressive 
title under which 'Clara Bell' introduces a cleverly- 
narrated episode by Anton Guilio Barrili to American 
readers. It is a sketch of Italian life, at once rich and 
strong, but nevertheless discreet in sentiment and grace- 
ful in diction. It is the old story of the fallacy of 
trusting to a proxy in love matters." Boston Post. 


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"' Ernestine ' is a work of positive genius. An English critic has 
likened the conception of the heroine in her childhood to George El- 
iot's Maggie Tulliver, and truly there is a certain resemblance ; but 
there is in the piece a much stronger suggestion of George Eliot's 
calm mastery of the secret springs of human action, and George 
Eliot's gift of laying bare the life of a human soul, than of likeness 
between particulars, characters or situations here and those with which 
we are familiar in George Eliot's work." New York Evening Post, 
Feb. 17, 1881. 

" Ernestine in her childhood somewhat reminds us of Maggie TulK- 
ver in the Mill on the Floss, and in her maidenhood of Mr. 1 ennyson's 
Princess. For many a year as child and woman she grieved that she 
had not been born a man. In fact, she was a downright and fearless 
champion of woman's rights. But in the end she yields, and as we 
take leave of her, we hear her saying to her husband, ' I thank God 
that I am a woman and that I am yours.' Very pretty, though per- 
haps too sad, are the opening scenes in which we first make her ac- 

1 ' There are many humorous touches throughout the work which 
afford a pleasant relief to the more pathetic portions." 

" In fact, in many places as we read the story, we saw that it would 
easily adapt itself to the purposes of the dramatist. London Saturday 


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" The Hour Will Come; A Tale of an Alpine Cloister, by Wilhel- 
mine von Hillern, is a charming story, perhaps somewhat old-fashioned 
in regard to plot, but gracefully and thoughtfully written, and full of 
interest in its admirable painting of character. It has a fine local 
color, and its descriptions are strikingly vivid and picturesque. It 
belongs to the best class of modern German fiction, and will be read 
with pleasure and satisfaction by every person of taste. The transla- 
tion, by Clara Bell, may be warmly praised for its spirit and its easy 
flow." Boston Saturday Evening Gazette, Oct. 9, 1880. 

" The Hour Will Come" is the title of a translation by Miss Clara 
Bell from the German original of Wilhelmine von Hillern, author of 
that beautiful romance " Geier-Wally." "The Hour Will Come" is 
hardly less interesting, its plot being one of the strongest and most 
pathetic that could well be imagined. The time is the Middle Ages, 
and Miss Von Hillern has achieved a remarkable success in repro- 
ducing the rudeness, the picturesqueness and the sombre coloring of 
those days. Those who take up "The Hour Will Come "will not 
care to lay it down again until they have read it through Baltimore 
Gazette, Wednesday, October 13, 1880. 


Price, in paper cover, - - 4O cents, 
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1 1 Murray Street, New York. 






"Mary J. Safford translates acceptably a very charming short 
story from the German of Wilhelmine von Hillern. If it was not told 
by the sacristan of Breisach, it deserves to have been. It has the 
full flavor ot old German and English love tales, such as have been 
crystallized in the old ballads. The Emperor, the gifted boy, his 
struggles with the stupidity of his townsmen, his apparently hopeless 
love above him ; these form the old delightful scene, set in a Durer- 
esque border. There are touches here and there which refer to the 
present. The sixteenth century tale has a political moral that will 
appeal to Germans who believe that Alsatia, once German in heart as 
well as in tongue, ought to be held by force to the Fatherland till she 
forgets her beloved France." N. Y. Times, Dec. ^th, 1881. 


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It is not difficult to explain why ' Ranthorpe " was not a success 
in the ordinary sense of a popular novel; but the explanation will 
probably give the reason why it has been since recalled to the atten- 
tion of the reading world. It was of too didactic a quality to suit the 
tastes of novel-readers in search of mere sensation. It is full of moral- 
izings, and, although the topics are secular enough, it is rather 
preachy. Bet there is a good deal of wisdom in it that is not without 
its use. The hero of the book runs a literary career, goes first into 

poetry and fails, then into the drama, and his tragedy is d d. 

The main interest of the volume is in the copious side discussions on 
the causes of failure in literary adventure, and we have a vivid and 
readable illustration of ideas which the author subsequently developed 
in his review articles on "The Principles of Success in Literature." 
From this point of view the book is instructive, while the plot keeps up 
the reader's interest in the usual way. The Popular Science Monthly. 


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" Spanish is not under any circumstances a difficult language 
to learn. It has in its construction and pronunciation an encour- 
aging directness very unlike the grammatical involutions of German 
and the delicate sound-shadings of French. Working in accord- 
ance with the rules of almost any 'system,' a diligent student can 
in a very little while acquire a fair mastery of the language; though 
it is true that some of the ' systems ' are much more difficult than 
others. One of the simplest and best of them all is 'A Practical 
Method for Learning Spanish,' by Senor A. Ramos Diaz de 
Villegas, just now published by William S. Gottsberger, New York. 
The method ' of Senor de Villegas comprehends a collection of 
anecdotes arranged in short lines with an English translation, 
similarly arranged, on the corresponding opposite page ; familiar 
phrases, with idiomatic renderings in English in parallel columns ; 
a vocabulary of words in common use, and a complete list of the 
Spanish irregular verbs. It will be observed that this method 
hardly can be called original ; that it is more or less that of Morales, 
of Velazquez, of Prendergast, and that some of its features are 
found in Ollendorff and in Ahn; but in simplicity of arrangement 
and directness of purpose it is superior to all of these Prendergast 
possibly excepted. It certainly is what it is called a practical 
method for learning Spanish. With a relatively small outlay of 
mental exertion it produces exceptionally good results." Philadel- 
phia Times, June 24, 1882. 


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