« PreviousContinue »
Now it so fell out that this being the first day of the Carnival, the whole Spanish nation was given up to fun and frolic. At every corner were to be seen grotesque figures en mascaro. On one hand there were 'bulls' and 'bears,' and on the other, dogs and monkeys. Here strutted a rooster of the Shanghae breed, and there a peacock, vain of his plumage.
The balconies of the houses were lined with dark-eyed señoritas, who sprinkled us with flour and rose-water as we passed, and ever and anon one more daring than the rest would throw her babies at us, to the no small detriment of our cabezas, and the serious annoyance of the Major, who kept getting redder and redder in the face, until one of these missiles struck him full on the chest, when being no longer able to contain his indignation, he broke out with: Now just you look here! I've had a pain in my breast for more than twenty days, and if you throw one of those accursed rag babies at me again, I'll knock your heads off with a brickbat, by George!'
To this speech, so intelligible to them, the merry maidens replied only by shouts of laughter and the exclamation: Mira, mira! que Quixote!' Whereupon Pipeclay, raising himself up to his full attitude, (he was about seven feet tall, and as thin as a garter-snake,) shook his fists at them in an ungovernable rage, at the same time earnestly enquiring of them 'If they saveed the police and the mayor!'
THREE happier fellows there were not in all Andalusia than Fearless, Maddox, and myself, as we found ourselves, at sun-rise on the last day of the Carnival, aboard the steamer 'Rapido,' which was rapidly bearing us out of sight of the spires of Cadiz. Among our fellow-passengers were an English cockney and a French beau, who afforded us an infinite deal of amusement. The Frenchman held a poodle in his lap, which he evidently regarded with the fondest affection. 'Sare,' said he to Maddox, do you speak the French?'
'I do not.'
'Vare well, den I must speak de English, which I speak it a little, but not too much. Regardez, s'il vous plait. I mean you shall regard, if you please, at my leetle dog. Vraiment, c'est un excellent chien. Voila sa queue! Ah! mon cher Sare,' said he, rolling up his eyes and shrugging up his shoulders, until his ears were hid by his coat-collar; 'I have see many, vare many leetle dog, but sich a dog on sich a tail, I never have see, Sare!'
John Bull stalked sullenly about the upper-deck, with his Murray's guide-book in his hand, not deigning to converse with any one, but occasionally asking an unnecessary question about the places which we passed.
'What island is that?' cried he as we shot by a low mud-bank.
'That?' replied Fearless, who was standing beside him; 'why, that, my dear Sir, is the Island of Barataria, which that prince of rulers, Sancho Panza, governed so ably in the reign of Don Quixote the First!'
For this valuable piece of information, the cockney had not the polite
ness to return thanks; but, as he immediately took from his pocket a memorandum-book and a pencil, I presume he made a note of it.'
These two gentlemen, by the way, put up at the same hotel with us in Seville, and one evening got excessively screwed' on some rare old Monongahela which Maddox brought with him from the ship; whereupon they displayed their national prejudices in a most diverting manner: the Englishman roundly swearing, as he staggered off to bed, that in no country other than England could a man get a decent piece of roast beef, or a tender beef-steak,' while the Crapaud's last words were, as he rolled under the table: 'American very fine! Englishman - GOD damn!'* Let the editor of the London Times, who prates so prosily of the entente cordiale, 'put this in his pipe and smoke it.'
About ten o'clock we reached the romantic Guadalquiver, with which I was at first disappointed, as the scenery at its mouth is tame in the extreme; but after ascending it about ten miles, it became so beautiful, that even the morose Englishman was heard to exclaim more than once: How lovely! how very, very lovely!'
On the right bank of the river, as far as the eye could reach, were orange and lemon groves, and green meadows, in which the fierce bulls of Andalusia were quietly grazing, little dreaming of the coming corrida de toros. On the left, the land gradually rising, became mountainous in the distance, until mingling with the clouds it was lost to view. Tortuous throughout its whole extent, the 'trembling river' became so winding in its course as we approached the far-famed Giralda of Seville, that now the city was on our right, now on our left, and again, we were running directly away from it.
At three in the afternoon we disembarked at the alameda, opposite the College of St. Elmo, from which point a brisk five minutes' walk carried us to the fonda de la reyna, the which hotel I beg to recommend to all travellers for its neatness and good cheer.
After dining we sallied out to the paseo de las delicias, where in one hour I saw more pretty women than I had seen in the whole course of my previous life. Some were as fair as a snow-flake, with blue eyes and auburn hair; others with fair skins had dark hair and eyes; and others again had rich olive complexions, and such eyes so large, so dark, so languid, and yet so piercing, that Maddox under their influence became quite poetical, and leaning against Cæsar's column,' he exclaimed:
OH! never talk again to me
Of BETSEY, JANE, or dear AMELIA ;
For one fair maiden of Sevilla!'
In the evening we went to the San Ferdinand Theatre, where we made the acquaintance of Count Fustado, a captain in the Spanish Navy, who very kindly took us behind the scenes, and introduced us to his particular friends, the bailadoras, who, at the time of our introduction to them, were standing on the stage in readiness to dance the
bolero. Suddenly they poised themselves on their left toes, and raised the right to a level with their eyebrows, and we, desirous of conforming in all things to the customs of the country, followed their good example. At this instant up went the curtain, and as we scampered off the stage in confusion, such a cry of 'los Americanos!' went up from parquette and boxes as made our ears ring for an hour afterward.
After the play, feeling the need of some refreshment, we dropped into a café in the vicinity of our lodging, where, to our amazement, we found two lanky specimens of the universal Yankee' engaged in earnest conversation; and, as they spoke in a loud tone of voice, not caring a 'continental damn,' as they said, themselves, whether any one overheard them or not, we had the full benefit of all that fell from their lips:
'And so, Bill,' said one, you served as an ingineer with these ere blamed dagos, you say. Now du tell how you lik 'em!'
'Wal, Nathan,' replied his companion, 'pritty well, considerin' they are dagos; but, burst my outboard delivery, if you can ever get 'em to grapple any thing!'
As how? rejoined the first speaker: I swow, Bill, I can't exactly Come at the sense of your observation. And you a Nantucket boy, too? Why, you've surely hearn tell of Josh Pease's prayer?'
'I can't say I have.'
'Wal, then, I'll tell it ye. You see Josh had ben out on a whalin' v'yage along with uncle Jeremiah Starbuck him as told old Capting Bunker he axed for nuthin' but civilities, and them of the commonest kind' — and the first day to hum, his mother, like an old fool, goes and sets a dish of green corn on the table; and so, Josh, who had n't seen nuthin' fresh for mor'n ninety days, falls right to, and eats the hull of it, which was eighteen ears in all. Wal, 't an't no kind of use to say he had an attack of cholera after it, for that follows, in course. And as the poor fellow was a wrigglin' about, like a pisin-sarpent, with his puddin'-bag all of a hard knot like, his mother, who was a strict Methodist, brings Elder Nubbins to his bed-side:
'My dear Josh,' said the Elder, who had ben a sea-farin' man in his youth, 'you're bound for the other world, and no mistake, and I want you to pray with me.'
"I'm in so much pain, Elder, that I can't pray!' says Josh. "Oh! let me beg of you to pray!' cried the elder.
"I tell you I won't!' snarled Josh.
́ ́O my son! have you no pity for me?' snivelled the old woman: 'have you no byowels of compassion?'
Wal, I should rayther kalkerlate I've got nigh on to forty on 'em here!' yelled Josh, with his hands on the pit of his stomach.'
At length the poor fellow consented to pray, providin' they 'd leave him alone awhile; so his mother and the Elder went out of the room ; but, bein' naterally curous to hear all he said, they unanimously concluded to stop outside of the door, and listen. What they heerd, no one could find out for a long time. By-and-by, however, it leaked out that Joshua's prayer was: O LORD! I'm not like these ere cantin' Methodists, what expects you to do every thing for them, and an't no
wise willing to help themselves. Now, all I ask is to be relieved of a dozen of these ears, and I'll try and grapple with the other six!'' Bursting into an uncontrollable fit of laughter, as the Yankee concluded his yarn, we made ourselves known to him, and invited him and his friend to accompany us to our hotel, where, notwithstanding our invalidity, we managed to make a pretty strong night of it.
Gentlemen,' said Mariano, our guide, to us one morning, as we rose from the breakfast-table, 'I have a rare treat for you to-day. The corregidor has given me permission to take you through the carcel mayor, where you will see that noted bandolero, Pedro Montés.'
'Lead on, Mariano! we follow,' said Fearless; and so without further words we sallied from our inn, and soon found ourselves within the prison-walls. As we entered his dark and noisome cell, the bandit rose from a wooden bench on which he had been reclining, and, in his rich Castilian tongue, courteously bade us be seated. Then turning to Mariano, he said interrogatively: 'These are English officers, I suppose?' 'No: they are Americans.'
At this reply, an expression of pleasure flitted across his wan features, as leaning against the grated window of his dungeon, and resting his wearied head in his wasted hands, he became lost in thought.
He was a young man prematurely old. Age had not silvered his hair, nor furrowed his swarthy cheek, but trouble had; and in every line of his handsome countenance, Grief and Care were legibly written. 'Caballeros,' asked he abruptly, at length awakening from his reverie, 'do you speak Spanish?' and Maddox having replied in the affirmative, the pale prisoner, clanking his chains as he spoke, thus continued:
To you, caballeros, who, born in a blessed land of liberty, dare to think, and to act independently, I take pleasure in relating the history of my life, that you may judge from it for yourselves, whether the heart of Montes be as black as these fetters would paint it.
I was born in Madrid. My parents being in easy circumstances, I received a liberal education, and three years since, at the early age of nineteen, graduated at the university of Salamanca. No sooner had I taken my degree, than my father proposed that I should travel until I attained my twenty-first birth-day, when I was to make choice of a profession for life; and as he coïncided in opinion with that Chinese philosopher who says, 'A man should be thoroughly acquainted with his own country before visiting another,' I turned my steps, at his desire, toward Granada.
As I was one day loitering about the streets of that city, my attention was drawn to a group of young girls, who, seated amid the ruins of a mosque, were busily occupied in weaving garlands of flowers, while an old Moor a professional story-teller was recounting for their entertainment one of the thousand-and-one legends of his people. Doffing my sombrero, I approached the ladies, and apprising them of the fact of my being a stranger, respectfully requested permission to become a
participator with them in the Moor's narration; which privilege was frankly and graciously accorded to me.
Among the señoritas was one whose pensive face, and large dreamy eyes darker than the night, and brighter than the noonday sun soon drew me to her side; and entering into conversation with her, I found, to my surprise, that she was Doña Maria de Montes, a distant relation of my own, to whose father I had brought letters of introduction. You can readily surmise, caballeros, the result of this chance meeting. The acquaintance thus unexpectedly made, soon ripened into friendship, friendship into love; and in less than a month from the day of my first casting eyes upon her, my fair kinswoman was solemnly betrothed to me in the presence of her father confessor; and a day appointed for our marriage.
I now gave up all thoughts of visiting foreign lands, and resolved to adopt the profession of arms; whereupon I set off for Madrid, to solicit from the minister of war a commission in the Queen's Guards,' then on duty in the palace of the Alhambra, where some of the royal family were temporarily residing. But 'man proposes and GoD disposes !' Before I reached Cordoba, a courier overtook me with the maddening intelligence that on the very day of my departure from Granada, my novia had been forcibly abducted from her father's house, by the Marquis of Cadiz, a nobleman whose vices were the reproach of the kingdom.
Knowing my inability to cope with the powerful marquis, I continued my journey to Madrid, to ask the protection of Her Majesty for Mariquiña; and, at the same time, I wrote to the venerable Archbishop of Granada, imploring his influence in her and my behalf. The cleric sent me a response, filled with much pious counsel, and an admonition to conform myself to the Lord's will,' while Her Majesty, whose sympathies were entirely with the libidinous marquis, (for you must know, caballeros, that this Queen by the grace of God' is so noted for her scandalous amours, that she is contemptuously styled by the lower classes, el guante usado,') actually reprimanded me, a plebeian, for daring to complain of one of her nobles.
And so, Church and State having mocked me, I had recourse to those whom Spain has ever had more cause to bless than to curse -I mean the bandoleros, whose captain I soon became.
I now passed whole nights in devising schemes of revenge for the injury I had received; and in a year from this time I had reduced the proud Marquis of Cadiz from a state of affluence to one of comparative beggary. Still I was unable to get possession of his person, or of that of Mariquiña.
At length, however, word was brought to me that a woman dying in a peasant's hut, not far from our place of rendezvous, desired to speak with me. This woman, caballeros, was my novia. I spare you the recital of her wrongs! She was buried at the mouth of a cavern, which served as a retreat for our band, and with my own hands I erected a cross over her grave.
This was but a month ago; and two days thereafter I stood upon the same spot, face to face with my enemy. It was mid-night, and the