I where the rising of the torrent would terminate, they How, sir? to perform thrown over him. the trees were smote or bent to the earth, and the. stream with straight rows of green, round tree-tops. food that there was hardly anything left for the What a handsome chap he's getting to be. HER nose was rather large, but handsome, aquiline-shaped; her upper lip was shaded by a light down; but then the colour of her face, smooth. ACELERAR UTORRENT SIN PROGRAMAS FULL Provi a fare 'Notify Requester when hours specific to and do not. A one-way multicast and works at. Careers Current opportunities way though, from. Join our world-class. If you would like to take.
The Handsome Devil was contributed to the Steam Workshop. October 1, Patch Scream Fortress October 2, Patch 1. From Team Fortress Wiki. Jump to: navigation , search. Handsome Devil. View listings on the Steam Community Market. Yer a devil! A devil! Click to listen. Main article: Paint Can. Mouseover cells to preview the images on a dark background. Click on the images to enlarge them. Main article: Styles.
Halloween Contracts expanded. Hidden categories: Pages using duplicate arguments in template calls Item infobox usage. Navigation menu Personal tools Create account Log in. Namespaces Page Discussion. Views Read View source View history. This page was last edited on 16 March , at Lot's of use he is to us! May the Lord be mer- ciful and take him off right now. Don Ramon, that somber libertine of Insatiable appetites, prey to a sinister, mysterious inebriation, was tossing in a last whirlwind of tempestuous desire, as though the blaze of sunset had set fire to what re- mained of his vitality.
May this man die as soon as possible I May all this come to an end soon, oh Lord! They were the only ones who dared allude to his disorderly life. He had enough strength left for one more caress the day when, escorted by don Andres, Rafael en- tered with his degree as a Doctor of Law.
And as if he had been waiting around just to see the realization of old Don Jaime's ambition, which he himself had not been able to fulfill, he passed away. All the bells of the city tolled mournfully. The Party weekly came out with a black border a palm wide; and from all over the District folks came in droves to see whether the powerful don Ramon BruU, who had been able to rain upon the just and unjust alike on this earth, could possibly have died the same as any other human being.
Ill When dona Bernarda found herself alone, and absolute mistress of her home, she could not con- ceal her satisfaction. Now they would see what a woman could do. She counted on the advice and experience of don Andres, who was closer than ever to her now; and on the prestige of Rafael, the young lawyer, who bade fair to sustain the reputation of the Brulls.
The power of the family continued unchanged. Don Andres, who, at the death of his master, had succeeded to the authority of a second father In the Brull house, saw to the maintenance of relations with the authorities at the provincial capital and with the still bigger fish In Madrid.
Petitions were heard in the patio the same as ever. Loyal party adher- ents were received as cordially as before and the same favors were done, nor was there any decline of influence in places that don Andres referred to as "the spheres of public administration. Don Ramon had left the party machine in perfect condition; all it needed was enough "grease" to keep It running smoothly; and there his widow was besides, ever alert at the slightest suggestion of a creak in the gearing.
Brull's son Is as powerful as the old man himself. He confined his personal activities to obey- ing his mother. Our friends there will be happy to see you. Instead of going out for a ride, spend your after- noon at the Club! They would sit around, filling their coflee-saucers with cigar-ash, disputing as to which was the better orator, Castelar or Canovas, and, in case of a war between France and Germany, which of the two would win — Idle subjects that always provoked disagreements and led to quarrels.
The only time he entered Into voluntary relations with "the Party" was when he took his pen in hand and manufactured for the Brull weekly a series of articles on "Law and Morality" and "Liberty and Faith," — the rehashings of a faithful, industrious plodder at school, prolix commonplaces seasoned with what metaphysical terminology he remembered, and which, from the very reason that nobody under 42 THE TORRENT Stood them, excited the admiration of his fellow partisans.
They would blink at the articles and say to don Andres: "What a pen, eh? Just let anyone dare to argue with him. Deep, that noodle, I tell you! They broke the mould In which the friends of his mother had cast his mind and made him dream of a broader life than the one known to those about him.
French novels transported him to a Paris that far outshone the Madrid he had known for a moment in his graduate days. Love stories awoke in his youth- ful Imagination an ardor for adventure and in- volved passions In which there was something of the intense love of Indulgence that had been his father's besetting sin. He came to dwell more and more in the fictitious world of his readings, where there were elegant, perfumed, clever women, prac- ticing a certain art In the refinement of their vices.
The young ladies of the city seemed to him peasants in disguise, with the narrow, selfish, stingy instincts of their parents. They knew the exact market price of oranges and just how much land was owned by each aspirant to their hand; and they adjusted their love to the wealth of the pretender, believing It the test of quality to appear implacable toward every- thing not fashioned to the mould of their petty life of prejudice and tradition.
For that reason he was deeply bored by his color- less, humdrum existence, so far removed from that other purely imaginative life which rose from the pages of his books and enveloped him with an exotic, exciting perfume. Some day he would be free, and take flight on his own wings; and that day of liberation would come when he got to be deputy.
He waited for his com- ing of age much as an heir-apparent waits for the moment of his coronation. From early boyhood he had been taught to look forward to the great event which would cut his life in two, opening out new pathways for a ''forward march" to fame and fortune. And he'll marry a mil- lionairess! He was like those noble youngsters of bygone centuries who, graced In their cradles by the rank of colonel from the monarch, played around with hoop and top till they were old enough to join their regiments.
He had been born a deputy, and a deputy he was sure to be : for the moment, he was waiting for his cue in the wings of the theatre of life. His trip to Italy on a pilgrimage to see the Pope was the one event that had disturbed the dreary course of his existence. But in that country of mar- vels, with a pious canon for a guide, he visited churches rather than museums.
Of theatres he saw only two — larks permitted by his tutor, whose aus- terity was somewhat mollified In those changing scenes. Indifferently they passed the famous artistic works of the Italian churches, but paused always to venerate some relic with miracles as famous as ab- surd. Even so, Rafael managed to catch a con- fused and passing glimpse of a world different from the one in which he was predestined to pass his life.
From a distance he sensed something of the love of pleasure and romance he had drunk in like an Intoxi- cating wine from his reading. In Milan he admired a gilded, adventurous bohemia of opera; in Rome, the splendor of a refined, artistic aristocracy In per- petual rivalry with that of Paris and London; and In Florence, an English nobility that had come in quest of sunlight and a chance to air Its straw hats, show off the fair hair of its ladies, and chatter Its own language In gardens where once upon a time the somber Dante dreamed and Boccaccio told his merry tales to drive fear of plague away.
That journey, of impressions as rapid and as THE TORRENT 45 fleeting as a reel of moving-pictures, leaving in Rafael's mind a maze of names, buildings, paintings and cities, served to give greater breadth to his thinking, as well as added stimulus to his imagina- tion.
Wider still became the gulf that separated him from the people and ideas he met in his com- mon everyday life. He felt a longing for the extra- ordinary, for the original, for the adventuresome- ness of artistic youth; and political master of a county, heir of a feudal dominion virtually, he never- theless would read the name of any writer or painter whatsoever with the superstitious respect of a rustic churl.
What would he not give to be a bohemian like the personages he met in the books of Murger, member of a merry band of "intellec- tuals," leading a life of joy and proud devotion to higher things in a bourgeois age that knew only thirst for money and prejudice of class! Talent for saying pretty things, for writing winged verses that soared like larks to heaven! A garret underneath the roof, off there in Paris, in the Latin Quarter!
A Mimi poor but spiritual, who would love him, and — between one kiss and another — be able to dis- cuss — not the price of oranges, like the girls who followed him with tender eyes at home — but serious "elevated" things! In exchange for all that he would gladly have given his future deputyship and all the orchards he had inherited, which, though en- cumbered by mortgages not to mention moral debts 46 THE TORRENT left by the rascality of his father and grandfather — still would bring him a tidy annuity for realizing his bohemian dreams.
Such preoccupations made life as a party leader, tied down to the petty interests of a constituency, quite unthinkable! At the risk of angering his mother, he fled the Club, to court the solitude of the hills and fields. There his imagination could range in greater freedom, peopling the roads, the meadows, the orange groves with creatures of his fancy, often conversing aloud with the heroines of some "grand passion," carried on along the lines laid down by the latest novel he had read.
One afternoon toward the close of summer Rafael climbed the little mountain of San Salvador, which lies close to the city. From the eminence he was fond of looking out over the vast domains of his family. For all the inhabitants of that fertile plain were — as don Andres said whenever he wished to emphasize the party's greatness — like so many cattle branded with the name of Brull.
As he went up the winding, stony trail, Rafael thought of the mountains of Assisi, which he had visited with his friend the canon, a great admirer of the Saint of Umbria. It was a landscape that suggested asceticism. Crags of bluish or reddish rock lined the roadway on either side, with pines and cypresses rising from the hollows, and extending black, winding, snaky roots out over the fallow soil.
At intervals, white shrines with tiny roofs harbored mosaics of glazed tiles depicting the Stations on the Via Dolorosa. The pointed green caps of the cy- presses, as they waved, seemed bent on frightening away the white butterflies that were fluttering about THE TORRENT 47 over the rosemary and the nettles. Reaching the little square In front of the Hermi- tage, he rested from the ascent, stretching out full length on the crescent of rubblcwork that formed a bench near the sanctuary.
There silence reigned, the silence of high hill-tops. From below, the noises of the restless life and labor of the plain came weakened, softened, by the wind, like the murmuring of waves breaking on a distant shore. Among the prickly-pears that grew In close thicket behind the bench, Insects were buzzing about, shining In the sun like buds of gold.
Some hens, belonging to the Hermitage, were pecking away In one corner of the square, clucking, and dusting their feathers in the gravel. Rafael surrendered to the charm of the exquisite scene. With reason had It been called "Paradise" by Its ancient owners.
Behind the Hermitage all the lower rihera stretched, one expanse of rice-fields drowned under an artificial flood; then, Sueca and Cullera, their white houses perched on those fecund lagoons like towns in landscapes of India; then, Albufera, with its lake, a sheet of silver glistening in the sunlight; then, Valencia, like a cloud of smoke drifting along the base of a mountain range of hazy blue; and, at last, in the background, the halo, as it were, of this apotheosis of light and color, the Mediterranean — the palpitant azure Gulf bounded by the cape of San Antonio and the peaks of Sagunto and Alme- nara, that jutted up against the sky-line like the black fins of giant whales.
As Rafael looked down upon the towers of the crumbling convent of La Murta, almost hidden in its pine-groves, he thought of all the tragedy of the Reconquest; and almost mourned the fate of those farmer-warriors whose white cloaks he could imagine as still floating among the groves of those magic trees of Asia's paradise. It was the influence of the Moor in his Spanish ancestry.
He pictured to himself the tiny kingdoms of those old walls ; vassal districts very like the one his fam- ily ruled. But instead of resting on influence, bribery, intimidation, and the abuse of law, they lived by the lances of horsemen as apt at tiUing the soil as at capering in tournaments with an elegance never equalled by any chevaliers of the North. He could see the court of Valencia, with the romantic gardens of Ruzafa, where poets sang mournful strophes over the wane of the Valencian Moor, while beautiful maidens listened from behind the blossom- ing rose-bushes.
And then the catastrophe came. In a torrent of steel, barbarians swept down from the arid hills of Aragon to appease their hunger in the bounty of the plain — the almogdvares — naked, wild, bloodthirsty savages, who never washed. And as allies of this horde, bankrupt Christian noblemen, their worn-out lands mortgaged to the Israelite, but good cavalrymen, withal, armored, and with dragon- wings on their helmets; and among the Christians, adventurers of various tongues, soldiers of fortune out for plunder and booty in the name of the Cross — the "black sheep" of every Christian family.
And they seized the great garden of Valencia, installed themselves in the Moorish palaces, called themselves counts and marquises, and with their swords held that privileged country for the King of Aragon, while the conquered Saracens continued to fertilize it with their toil. And Rafael could see, passing like phantoms before his eyes, leaning forward on the necks of small, sleek, sinewy horses, that seemed to fly over the ground, their legs horizontal, their nostrils belching smoke, the Moors, the real people of Valencia, conquered, degenerated by the very abundance of their soil, abandoning their gardens before the onrush of brutal, primitive invaders, speeding on their way toward the unending night of African barbarism.
At this eternal exile of the first Valencians who left to oblivion and decay a civilization, the last vestiges of which today survive in the universities of Fez, Rafael felt the sorrow he would have experienced had it all been a disaster to his family or his party. While he was thinking of all these dead things, life in its feverish agitation surrounded him. A cloud of sparrows was darting about the roof of the Hermitage. On the mountain side a flock of dark- fleeced sheep was grazing; and when any of them discovered a blade of grass among the rocks, they would begin calling to one another with a melan- choly bleating.
Rafael could hear the voices of some women who seemed to be climbing the road, and from his reclin- ing position he finally made out two parasols that were gradually rising to view over the edge of his bench. One was of flaming red silk, skilfully em- broidered and suggesting the filigreed dome of a mosque; the second, of flowered calico, was appar- ently keeping at a respectful distance behind the first.
Two women entered the little square, and as THE TORRENT 51 Rafael sat up and removed his hat, the taller, who seemed to be the mistress, acknowledged his cour- tesy with a slight bow, went on to the other end of the esplanade, and stood, with her back turned to- ward him. The other sat down some distance off, breathing laboriously from the exertion of the climb.
Who were those women? Rafael knew the whole city, and had never seen them. The one seated near him was doubtless the serv- ant of the other — her maid or her companion. She was dressed in black, simply but with a certain charm, like the French soubrettes he had seen in illustrated novels. But rustic origin and lack of cultivation were evident from the stains on the backs of her unshapely hands; from her broad, flat, finger-nails; and from her large ungainly feet, quite out of har- mony with the pair of stylish boots she was wearing — cast-off articles, doubtless, of the lady.
She was pretty, nevertheless, with a fresh exuberance of youth. Her large, gray, credulous eyes were those of a stupid but playful lamb; her hair, straight, and a very light blond, hung loosely here and there over a freckled face, dark with sunburn.
She handled her closed parasol somewhat awkwardly and kept looking anxiously at the doubled gold chain that drooped from her neck to her waist, as if to reas- sure herself that a gift long-coveted had not been lost. Rafael's interest drifted to the lady. His eyes rested on the back of a head of tightly-gathered golden hair, as luminous as a burnished helmet; on a white neck, plump, rounded; on a pair of broad, lithe shoulders, hidden under a blue silk blouse, the 52 THE TORRENT lines tapering rapidly, gracefully toward the waist; on a gray skirt, finally, falling in harmonious folds like the draping of a statue, and under the hem the solid heels of two shoes of English style encasing feet that must have been as agile and as strong as they were tiny.
The lady called to her maid in a voice that was sonorous, vibrant, velvety, though Rafael could catch only the accented syllables of her words, that seemed to melt together in the melodious silence of the mountain top. The young man was sure she had not spoken Spanish. A foreigner, almost cer- tainly! She was expressing admiration and enthusiasm for the view, talking rapidly, pointing out the prin- cipal towns that could be seen, calling them by their names, — the only words that Rafael could make out clearly.
Perhaps the wife of one of the French or English orange-dealers established in the city! Meanwhile his eyes were devouring that superb, that opulent, that elegant beauty which seemed to be challenging him with its indifference to his presence. The keeper of the Hermitage issued cautiously from the house — a peasant who made his living from visitors to the heights.
Attracted by the promis- ing appearance of the strange lady, the hermit came forward to greet her, offering to fetch water from the cistern, and to unveil the image of the miraculous virgin, in her honor. She was tall, ever so tall, as tall as he perhaps. But the Impression her height of stature made was softened by a grace of figure that revealed strength allied to elegance.
A hot mist of emotion seemed to cloud his vision as he looked into her large eyes, so green, so luminous! The golden hair fell forward upon a forehead of pearly whiteness, veined at the temples with delicate lines of blue. Viewed in profile her gracefully moulded nose, quiv- ering with vitality at the nostrils, filled out a beauty that was distinctly modern, piquantly charming. In those lineaments, Rafael thought he could recognize any number of famous actresses. He had seen her before.
He did not know. Perhaps In some Illustrated weekly! Perhaps In some album of stage celebrities! Or maybe on the cover of some match-box — a common medium of publicity for famous European belles. Of one thing he was cer- tain : at sight of that wonderful face he felt as though he were meeting an old friend after a long absence. The recluse, in hopes of a perquisite, led the two women toward the door of the hermitage, where his wife and daughter had appeared, to feast their eyes on the huge diamonds sparkling at the ears of the strange lady.
She came here alone all the way from Majorca. People down In Palma claim they have the real Virgin. But what can they say for themselves? At the rear, on a baroque altar of tarnished gold, stood the little statue with Its hollow cloak and its black face.
Rapidly, by rote almost, the good man recited the history of the image. The Virgin del Lluch was the patroness of Majorca. A hermit had been com- pelled to flee from there, for a reason no one had been able to discover — perhaps to get away from some Saracen girl of those exciting, war-like days! And to rescue the Virgin from profanation he brought her to Alclra, and built this sanctuary for her. Later people from Majorca came to return her to their Island.
But the celestial lady had taken a liking to Alclra and Its Inhabitants. Over the water, and without even wetting her feet, she came gliding back. Then the Majorcans, to keep what had happened quiet, counterfeited a new statue that looked just like the first. All this was gospel truth, and as proof, there lay the original hermit buried at the foot of the altar; and there was the Virgin, too, her face blackened by the sun and the salt wind on her miraculous voyage over the sea.
The beautiful lady smiled slightly, as she listened. The maid was all ears, not to lose a word of a lan- guage she but half understood, her credulous peasant eyes traveling from the Virgin to the hermit and fram the hermit to the Virgin, plainly expressing the wonder she was feeling at such a portentous miracle. Rafael had followed the party Into the shrine and taken a position near the fascinating stranger. She, however, pretended not to see him. If the story has been handed down so long, there must be some- thing to it.
It was a poorly clad orchard worker, young, it seemed, but with a face pale, and as rough as wrinkled paper, all the crevices and hollows of her cranium showing, her eyes sunken and dull, her unkempt hair escaping from beneath her knotted kerchief. She was barefoot, carrying her shoes in her hand. She stood with her legs wide apart, as if in an effort to keep her balance. She seemed to feel intense pain whenever she stepped upon the ground. Illness and poverty were written on every feature of her person.
The recluse knew her well; and as the unfortunate creature, panting with the effort of the climb, sank upon a little bench to rest her feet, he told her story briefly to the visitors. She was ill, very, very ill. With no faith in doctors, who, according to her, "treated her with nothing but words"; she believed that the Virgin del IJuch would ultimately cure her. And, though at home she could scarcely move from her chair and was always being scolded by her husband for neglect- ing the housework, every week she would climb the 56 THE TORRENT Steep mountain-side, barefoot, her shoes in her hand.
The hermit approached the sick woman, accept- ing a copper coin she offered. A few couplets to the Virgin, as usual, he supposed! And his daughter came into the chapel — a dirty, dark-skinned creature with African eyes, who might just have escaped from a gipsy band. She took a seat upon a bench, turning her back upon the Virgin with the bored ill-humored expres- sion of a person compelled to do a dull task day after day; and in a hoarse, harsh, almost frantic voice, which echoed deafeningly in that small en- closure, she began a drawling chant that rehearsed the story of the statue and the portentous miracles it had wrought.
The sick woman, kneeling before the altar with- out releasing her hold upon her shoes, the heels of her feet, which were bruised and bleeding from the stones, showing from under her skirts, repeated a refrain at the end of each stanza, imploring the pro- tection of the Virgin. Her voice had a weak and hollow sound, like the wail of a child. Her sunken eyes, misty with tears, were fixed upon the Virgin with a dolorous expression of supplication.
Her words came more tremulous and more distant at each couplet. The beautiful stranger was plainly affected at the pitiful sight. Her maid had knelt and was follow- ing the sing-song rhythm of the chant, with prayers In a language that Rafael recognized at last. It was Italian. But he ransacked his memory in vain. That charming woman had filled his mind with thoughts far other than quotations from the Fathers!
The couplets to the Virgin came to an end. With the last stanza the wild singer disappeared; and the sick woman, after several abortive efforts, rose pain- fully to her feet. The recluse approached her with the solicitude of a shopkeeper concerned for the quality of his wares. Were things going any better? Were the visits to the Virgin doing good? The unfortunate woman did not dare to answer, for fear of offending the miraculous Lady.
She did not know! But that climb! This offering had not had such good results as the previous ones, she thought; but she had faith: the Virgin would be good to her and cure her in the end. At the church door she collapsed from pain. The recluse placed her on his chair and ran to the cistern to get a glass of water. The Italian maid, her eyes bulging with fright, leaned over the poor woman, petting her: ''Poverinaf Poverinaf.
The lady stepped out to the plazoietdy deeply moved, it seemed, by what she had been witnessing. On finding herself once more In the presence of that wonderful panorama, where the eye ran unob- structed to the very limit of the horizon, the charm- ing creature seemed to breathe more freely. This view Is ever so beautiful. But that woman!
That poor woman! They despise doctors, and refuse their help, preferring to kill themselves with these barbarous prayers and devotions, which they expect will do them good. But here we are laughing and enjoying ourselves while suffering passes us by, rubs elbows with us even, without our noticing! Rafael was at a loss for reply. What sort of woman was this? What a way she had of talking! Accustomed as he was to the commonplace chatter of his mother's friends, and stIU under the Influence of this meeting, which had so deeply disturbed him, the poor boy imagined himself in the presence of a sage in skirts — a philosopher under the disguise of THE TORRENT 59 female beauty come from beyond the Pyrenees, from some gloomy German alehouse perhaps, to upset his peace of mind.
The stranger was silent for a time, her gaze fixed upon the horizon. Then around her attractive sen- suous lips, through which two rows of shining, daz- zling teeth were gleaming, the suggestion of a smile began to play, a smile of joy at the landscape. I have never seen you " "There's nothing strange about that. I arrived only yesterday. I know everyone in the city. My name is Rafael Brull. I'm the son of don Ramon, who was mayor of Alcira many times.
The poor fellow had been dying to reveal his name, tell who he was, pro- nounce that magic word so influential in the District, certain it would be the "Open Sesame" to that won- derful stranger's grace! After that, perhaps, she would tell him who she was! But the lady com- mented on his declaration with an "Ah! A painful silence followed. Rafael was anxious to get out of his plight. That glacial indifference, that disdainful courtesy, which, without a trace of rudeness, still kept him at a distance, hurt his vanity to the quick.
But, alas, this time it was cold and menac- ing, a livid flash of lightning refracted from a mirror of ice. He saw her turn toward the doorway of the sanctuary and call her maid. Every step of hers, every movement of her proud figure, seemed to raise a barrier in front of him. He saw her bend affectionately over the sick orchard- woman, open a httle pink bag that her maid handed her, and, rummaging about among some sparkling trinkets and embroidered handkerchiefs, draw out a THE TORRENT 61 hand filled with shining silver coins.
She emptied the money into the apron of the astonished peasant girl, gave something as well to the recluse, who was no less astounded, and then, opening her red parasol, walked off, followed by her maid. As she passed Rafael, she answered the doffing of his hat with a barely perceptible inclination of her head; and, without looking at him, started on her way down the stony mountain path. The young man stood gazing after her through the pines and the cypresses as her proud athletic figure grew smaller in the distance.
The perfume of her presence seemed to linger about him when she had gone, obsessing him with the atmospnere of superiority and exotic elegance that emanated from her whole being. Rafael noticed finally that the recluse was ap- proaching, unable to restrain a desire to communi- cate his admiration to someone. She had given him a duro, one of those white discs which, In that atheistic age, so rarely ascended that mountain trail! And there the poor invalid sat at the door of the Hermitage, staring into her apron blankly, hypnotized by the glitter of all that wealth!
All the money the lady had brought! Even a gold but- ton, which must have come from her glove! Rafael shared in the general astonishment. But who the devil was that woman? They were barely visible now. The larger of the two, a mere speck of red, was already blend- ing into the green of the first orchards on the plain At last it had disappeared completely.
Left alone, Rafael burst into rage! The place where he had made such a sorry exhibition of him- self seemed odious to him now. He fumed with vexation at the memory of that cold glance, which had checked any advance toward familiarity, re- pelled him, crushed him 1 The thought of his stupid questions filled him with hot shame.
Without replying to the "good-evening" from the recluse and his family, he started down the mountain, in hopes of meeting the woman again, somewhere, some time, he knew not when nor how. The heir of don Ramon, the hope of the District, strode furi- ously on, his arms aquiver with a nervous tremor. And aggressively, menacingly, addressing his own ego as though it were a henchman cringing terror- stricken in front of him, he muttered: "You imbecile!
You lout! You peas- ant! You provincial ass! Nor could his political friends guess, that afternoon, why in such fine weather, Rafael should come and shut himself up in the stifling at- mosphere of the Club. When he came in, a crowd of noisy henchmen gathered round him to discuss all over again the great news that had been keeping "the Party" in feverish excitement for a week past: the Cortes were to be dissolved!
The newspapers had been talking of nothing else. The- Intimate friend and lieutenant of the House of Brull was the best informed. If the elections took place on the date indicated by the newspapers, Rafael would still be five or six months sliort of his twenty- fifth birth-day. But don Andres had written to Madrid to consult the Party leaders.
The prime minister was agreeable — "there were precedents! They would send no more "foundlings" from Madrid! Alcira would have no more "un- knowns" foisted upon her! All this bustling expectation left Rafael cold. For years he had been looking forward to that election time, when the chance would come for his free life in Madrid. Now that it was at hand he was com- pletely indifferent to the whole matter, as if he were the last person in the world concerned.
He looked impatiently at the table where don Andres, with three other leading citizens, was hav- ing his daily hand at cards before coming to sit down at Rafael's side. That' was a canny habit of don Andres.
He liked to be seen in his capacity of Regent, sheltering the heir-apparent under the wing of his prestige and experienced wisdom. Well along in the afternoon, when the Club parlor was less crowded with members, the atmosphere freer of smoke, and the ivory balls less noisy on the green cloth, don Andres considered his game at an end, and took a chair in his disciple's circle, where as usual Rafael was sitting with the most parasitic and adulatory of his partisans.
The boy pretended to be listening to their con- versation, but all the while he was preparing men- tally a question he had decided to put to don Andres the day before. At last he made up his mind. Well, yes- terday, up on San Salvador, I met a fine-looking woman who seems to be a foreigner. She says she's living here. Who is she? That woman got in the day before yester- day, and everybody's seen her already.
She's the talk of the town. You were the only one who hadn't asked me about her so far. And now you've bit- ten! What a place this is! In fact, she was born about two doors from you. She once owned the place you have just beyond where you live, and she's the one who sold it to your father — the only property don Ramon ever bought, so far as I know.
Don't you remem- ber? As he went back in his memory, the picture of an old wrinkled woman rose before his mind, a woman round-shouldered, bent with age, but with a kindly face smiling with simple- mindedness and good nature. He could see her now, with a rosary usually in her hand, a camp-stool under her arm, and her mantilla drawn down over her face. The only decent person in her family. The girl has been all over the world sing- ing grand opera. You were probably too young to remember Doctor Moreno, who was the scandal of the province in those days.
If he cried about going to bed so early, his mother would say to him in a mysterious voice : "If you don't keep quiet and go right to sleep I'll send for Doctor Moreno! Rafael could see him as clearly as if he were sitting there in front of him; with that huge, black, curly beard; those large, burning eyes that always shone with an inner fire; and that tall, angular figure that seemed taller than ever as young Brull evoked it from the hazes of his early years.
Perhaps the Doctor had been a good fellow, who knows! He had fled in terror, as almost all good boys did when the Doctor petted them. What a horrible reputation Doctor Moreno had! The curates of the town spoke of him in terms of hair-raising horror. An infidel! A man cut off from Mother Church! Nobody knew for certain just what high authority had excommunicated him, but he was, no doubt, outside the pale of decent, Christian folks. Proof of that there was, a-plenty.
His whole attic was filled with mysterious books in foreign languages, all containing horrible doctrines against God and the authority of His representatives on earth. He defended a certain fellow by the name of Darwin, who claimed than men were related T to monkeys, a view that gave much amusement ta the indignant dona Bernarda, who repeated all the jokes on the crazy notion her favorite preacher cracked of a Sunday in the pulpit.
And such a sorcerer! Hardly a disease could resist Doctor Moreno. He worked wonders in the suburbs, among the lower scum; and those laborers adored him with as much fear as affection. That devil of a physician used new and unheard-of treatments he learned from atheistic reviews and suspicious books he imported from abroad. His competitors grum- bled also because the Doctor had a mania for treat- ing poor folk gratis, actually leaving money, some- times, into the bargain; and he often refused to at- 68 THE TORRENT tend wealthy people of "sound principles" who had been obliged to get their confessor's permission be- fore placing themselves in his hands.
Lower scum! But she said such things in a very low voice and with a certain fear, for those days were bad ones for the House of Brull. Rafael remembered how gloomy his father had been about that time, hardly even leaving the patio.
Had it not been for the respect his hairy claws and his frowning eye-brows inspired, the rabble would have eaten him alive. The monarchy had been treasonably overturned; the men of the Revolution of September were legis- lating in Madrid. The petty tradesmen of the city, ever rebellious against the tyranny of don Ramon, had taken guns in their hands and formed a little militia, ready to send a fusilade into the cacique who had formerly trodden them under foot.
Candles were being burned before pictures af Cas- telar. And meantime that fanatical Doctor, a Re- publican, was preaching on the public squares, ex- plaining the "rights of man" at daytime meetings in the country and at night meetings In town. Wild with enthusiasm he repeated. In different words, the orations of the portentous Tribune who In those days was traveling from one end of Spain to the other, administering to the people the sacrament of democracy to the music of his eloquence, which THE TORRENT 69 raised all the grandeurs of History from the tomb.
Rafael's mother, shutting all the doors and win- dows, would lift her angry eyes toward heaven every time the crowd, returning from a meeting, would pass through her street with banners flying and halt two doors away. In front of the Doctor's house, where they would cheer, and cheer. Those people demanded a Republic — they belonged, as she said, to the "Dividing-up" gang.
The way things were going, they'd soon be winning; and then they would plunder the house, and perhaps cut her throat and strangle the baby! They'll sing their Marseillaise for a time and shout themselves hoarse. Why shouldn't they, if they're content with so little? Other days are coming.
The Carlists will see to It that our cause triumphs. He knew him very well: they had been schoolmates together, and Rafael's father had never cared to join the hue and cry against Doctor Moreno. The one thing that seemed to bother him was that, as soon as the Republic was proclaimed, the Doctor's friends were eager to send him as a deputy to the Constituent Assemby of ' That lunatic a deputy!
The end of the world was surely coming! But the Doctor had refused the nomination. If he were to go to Madrid, what would become of the poor people who depended on him for health and protection? Besides, he liked a quiet, sedentary life, with his books and his studies, where he could satisfy his desires without quarrels and fighting. What didn't the man know, anyhow?
According to dona Ber- narda and her friends, that remarkable skill had been acquired through "evil arts. But that did not prevent crowds from thronging the streets at night, caution- ing pedestrians to walk more softly as they ap- proached his house; nor from opening their windows to hear better when that devil of a doctor would be playing his violoncello. This he did when certain friends of his came up from Valencia to spend a few days with him — a queer, long-haired crew that talked THE TORRENT 71 a strange language and referred to a fellow called Beethoven with as much respect as if he were San Bernardo himself.
What a man he was I How he made your father and me fume in the days of '73! Now that all that is so far in the past, I'll say he was a line fellow. Most charming man- ners he had, however. He married a beautiful orchard-girl, who happened to be very poor. He said the marriage was. For that he didn't need to bother about his wife's social posi- tion. What he was looking for was health. So he picked out that Teresa of his, as strong as an ox, and as fresh as an apple. But little good it did the poor woman.
She had one baby and died a few days afterward, despite the science and the desperate efforts of her husband. They had lived together less than a year. The pictures of those fellows were scattered In every room of the house, even in the attic. This Beethoven In case you don't know it , was an Italian or an Englishman, I'm not sure which — one of those fellows who makes music up out of his head for people to play In theatres or for lunatics like Moreno to amuse themselves with.
As a tribute to Emilia Castelar, his idol, he felt he ought to call her Emilia : but he liked the sound of Leonora better no, not Lenor, but Leonora! Anyhow, the foreigner won out; and the Doctor packed the child off tO' church with his sister, who took a few neighbors of the poorer sort along to see Leonora baptized. At the time I was employed in the municipal offices, and I had to intervene. This was all before the Revolution; Gonzalez Brabo was boss in those days — and good old days they were!
Let an enemy of law and order or sound religion just raise his voice and he was off on his way to Fernanda Pio in no time. Well, what a racket the Doctor raised! He sat himself down In that church — first time he'd ever been in the place — and insisted that his daughter be labeled as he directed. During the argument, he called all the curates and acolytes assembled In the sacristy there, a pack of 'brahmans.
But finally he com- promised and let her be baptized with the orthodox name of 'Leonor. As he went out he said to the priest: "She will be 'Leonora' for reasons that please her father, and which you wouldn't un- derstand even if I were to explain them to you. Don Ramon and I had to interfere to calm the good curates; they were for sending him up for sacrilege, insult to religion, what not! We had to go some to quiet things down.
In those days, boy, a matter of that sort was more seri- ous than killing a man. That girl al- ways took after the old man. Just as queer as he was. The Doctor all over again! I haven't seen her yet. They say she's a stunning beauty, like her mother, who was a blonde, and the handsomest girl in all these parts. When the Doctor had dressed his wife up like a lady, she wasn't much for man- ners, but she certainly was something to look at.
Per- haps it's all a lie. Who knows! After the Republic fell, it was the turn of decent people again. Poor Moreno took it all harder than he did the death of his Teresa, and kept himself locked up in his house day in, day out. Your father was stronger than before and we ran things in a way that was a sight for sore eyes!
Don Antonio up in Madrid gave orders to the Governors to give us a free hand in cleaning up everything that was left of the Revolution. Some afternoons he would go for a walk in the suburbs, or a stroll over to his sister's orchard, near the river — always with Leonora at his side. She was now about eleven years old. All his affection was centered on her.
Poor Doctor! How things had changed from the days when his mobs would meet the troops shot for shot in the streets of Alcira, shouting vivas for the Federal Republic! In his solitude and in all the dejection coming from the defeat of his perverted ideas, he took more than ever to music. He had but one joy left him.
Leonora loved music as much as he. She learned her lessons rapidly; and soon could accompany her father's violoncello on the piano. They would spend the days playing together, going through the whole pile of music sheets they kept stored in the attic along with those accursed medical books.
Besides, the little girl showed she had a voice, and it seemed to grow fuller and more beautiful every day. And when some tenant of his or one of his dependents came into the house and could hardly believe his ears at the sweetness of the little THE TORRENT 75 angel's voice, the Doctor would rub his hands and gleefully exclaim: 'What do you think of the little lady, eh?
Some day people in Alcira will be proud she was born here. At that time, we were in power again, and I had very little to do with the Doctor. We gradually lost sight of him, forgot him, practically. The music we heard when going by the house was all there was to remind us of him. We learned one day, through his sister, dona Pepa, that he had gone way off with the little girl somewhere — what was that city you visited, Rafael?
I've been told that's the market for singers. He wanted his Leonora to become a prima donna. He never came back, poor fellow! Things must have gone badly with them. Every year he would write home to his sister to sell another piece of land. It is known that over there they lived in real poverty. In a few years the little fortune the Doctor got from his parents was gone. Poor dona Pepa, kind old soul, even disposed of the house — which belonged half to the Doctor and half to her — sent him every cent of the money, and moved to the orchard.
Ever since then she's been coming in to mass and to Forty Hours in all sorts of weather. I could learn nothing for certain after that. People lie so, you see. Some say poor Moreno shot himself because his daughter left him when she got placed on the stage; others say that he died like a dog in a poorhouse. The way she went it! They even say she had a king or two.
As for money! Say, boys, there arc ways and ways of earning it, and ways and ways of spending it! The fellow who knows all about that side of her is the barber Cupido. He imagines he's an artist, because he plays the guitar; and besides he has a Republican grouch, and was a great admirer of her father's. He's the only one in town who followed all she was up to, in the papers.
They say she doesn't sing under her own name, but uses some prettier sounding one — foreign, I believe. Cupido is a regular busybody and you can get all the latest news in his barbershop. There's no end to what he tells. Trunks in every corner, enough to pack a house-full of things into, and silk dresses.
Hats, I can't say how many; jewelry-boxes on every table with dia- monds that strike you blind. And she told Cupido to have the station-agent get a move on and send what was still missing — the heavier luggage — boxes and boxes that come from way off somewhere — the other end of the world, and that cost a fortune just to ship. There you are! And why not? The way she earned it! She'll stay until she gets bored, he says. And to be in less danger of that, she has brought her whole establishment along on her back, like a snail.
Moreno's girl! Did you ever hear of such a family? Daughter of that descamisado, as my father calls him because he died without a stitch on his back! If she thinks Alcira is anything like the places where they dance the razzle-dazzle and there's no shame, she'll be sadly disappointed. She'll be disappointed. We're probably as bad as people in other places, but we don't want anybody to find us out. They say she's brought a French maid along. But she's beginning to cry 'sour grapes' already.
Do you know what she said to Cupido yesterday? That she had come here with the idea of living all by herself, just to get away from people; and when the barber spoke to her of society in Alcira, she made a wry face, as much as to say the place was filled with no-accounts. You can see why! She has always been the favorite of so many big guns! You're young and you're handsome, and you've been abroad. Why don't you make a try for her, if only to prick the bubble of her conceit and show her there are people here, too.
They say she's mighty good-looking, and, what the deuce! It wouldn't be so hard. When she finds out who you are! But Rafael had hved through the previous afternoon, and the words seemed very bitter pills. Don Andres at once grew serious, as if a frightful vision had sud- denly passed before his eyes; and he added in a respectful tone : "But no: that was only a jest.
Don't pay any attention to what I say. Your mother would be terribly provoked.
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