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Title: John Bull on the Guadalquivir
 - From "Tales from All Countries"
Author: Trollope, Anthony
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "John Bull on the Guadalquivir
 - From "Tales from All Countries"" ***

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Transcribed from the 1864 Chapman and Hall “Tales from all Countries”
edition by David Price, email ccx074@pglaf.org



                      JOHN BULL ON THE GUADALQUIVIR.


I AM an Englishman, living, as all Englishman should do, in England, and
my wife would not, I think, be well pleased were any one to insinuate
that she were other than an Englishwoman; but in the circumstances of my
marriage I became connected with the south of Spain, and the narrative
which I am to tell requires that I should refer to some of those details.

The Pomfrets and Daguilars have long been in trade together in this
country, and one of the partners has usually resided at Seville for the
sake of the works which the firm there possesses.  My father, James
Pomfret, lived there for ten years before his marriage; and since that
and up to the present period, old Mr. Daguilar has always been on the
spot.  He was, I believe, born in Spain, but he came very early to
England; he married an English wife, and his sons had been educated
exclusively in England.  His only daughter, Maria Daguilar, did not pass
so large a proportion of her early life in this country, but she came to
us for a visit at the age of seventeen, and when she returned I made up
my mind that I most assuredly would go after her.  So I did, and she is
now sitting on the other side of the fireplace with a legion of small
linen habiliments in a huge basket by her side.

I felt, at the first, that there was something lacking to make my cup of
love perfectly delightful.  It was very sweet, but there was wanting that
flower of romance which is generally added to the heavenly draught by a
slight admixture of opposition.  I feared that the path of my true love
would run too smooth.  When Maria came to our house, my mother and elder
sister seemed to be quite willing that I should be continually alone with
her; and she had not been there ten days before my father, by chance,
remarked that there was nothing old Mr. Daguilar valued so highly as a
thorough feeling of intimate alliance between the two families which had
been so long connected in trade.  I was never told that Maria was to be
my wife, but I felt that the same thing was done without words; and when,
after six weeks of somewhat elaborate attendance upon her, I asked her to
be Mrs. John Pomfret, I had no more fear of a refusal, or even of
hesitation on her part, than I now have when I suggest to my partner some
commercial transaction of undoubted advantage.

But Maria, even at that age, had about her a quiet sustained decision of
character quite unlike anything I had seen in English girls.  I used to
hear, and do still hear, how much more flippant is the education of girls
in France and Spain than in England; and I know that this is shown to be
the result of many causes—the Roman Catholic religion being, perhaps,
chief offender; but, nevertheless, I rarely see in one of our own young
women the same power of a self-sustained demeanour as I meet on the
Continent.  It goes no deeper than the demeanour, people say.  I can only
answer that I have not found that shallowness in my own wife.

Miss Daguilar replied to me that she was not prepared with an answer; she
had only known me six weeks, and wanted more time to think about it;
besides, there was one in her own country with whom she would wish to
consult.  I knew she had no mother; and as for consulting old Mr.
Daguilar on such a subject, that idea, I knew, could not have troubled
her.  Besides, as I afterwards learned, Mr. Daguilar had already proposed
the marriage to his partner exactly as he would have proposed a division
of assets.  My mother declared that Maria was a foolish chit—in which
by-the-bye she showed her entire ignorance of Miss Daguilar’s character;
my eldest sister begged that no constraint might he put on the young
lady’s inclinations—which provoked me to assert that the young lady’s
inclinations were by no means opposed to my own; and my father, in the
coolest manner suggested that the matter might stand over for twelve
months, and that I might then go to Seville, and see about it!  Stand
over for twelve months!  Would not Maria, long before that time, have
been snapped up and carried off by one of those inordinately rich Spanish
grandees who are still to be met with occasionally in Andalucia?

My father’s dictum, however, had gone forth; and Maria, in the calmest
voice, protested that she thought it very wise.  I should be less of a
boy by that time, she said, smiling on me, but driving wedges between
every fibre of my body as she spoke.  “Be it so,” I said, proudly.  “At
any rate, I am not so much of a boy that I shall forget you.”  “And,
John, you still have the trade to learn,” she added, with her deliciously
foreign intonation—speaking very slowly, but with perfect pronunciation.
The trade to learn!  However, I said not a word, but stalked out of the
room, meaning to see her no more before she went.  But I could not resist
attending on her in the hall as she started; and, when she took leave of
us, she put her face up to be kissed by me, as she did by my father, and
seemed to receive as much emotion from one embrace as from the other.
“He’ll go out by the packet of the 1st April,” said my father, speaking
of me as though I were a bale of goods.  “Ah! that will be so nice,” said
Maria, settling her dress in the carriage; “the oranges will be ripe for
him then!”

On the 17th April I did sail, and felt still very like a bale of goods.
I had received one letter from her, in which she merely stated that her
papa would have a room ready for me on my arrival; and, in answer to
that, I had sent an epistle somewhat longer, and, as I then thought, a
little more to the purpose.  Her turn of mind was more practical than
mine, and I must confess my belief that she did not appreciate my poetry.

I landed at Cadiz, and was there joined by an old family friend, one of
the very best fellows that ever lived.  He was to accompany me up as far
as Seville; and, as he had lived for a year or two at Xeres, was supposed
to be more Spanish almost than a Spaniard.  His name was Johnson, and he
was in the wine trade; and whether for travelling or whether for staying
at home—whether for paying you a visit in your own house, or whether for
entertaining you in his—there never was (and I am prepared to maintain
there never will be) a stancher friend, choicer companion, or a safer
guide than Thomas Johnson.  Words cannot produce a eulogium sufficient
for his merits.  But, as I have since learned, he was not quite so
Spanish as I had imagined.  Three years among the bodegas of Xeres had
taught him, no doubt, to appreciate the exact twang of a good, dry
sherry; but not, as I now conceive, the exactest flavour of the true
Spanish character.  I was very lucky, however, in meeting such a friend,
and now reckon him as one of the stanchest allies of the house of
Pomfret, Daguilar, and Pomfret.

He met me at Cadiz, took me about the town, which appeared to me to be of
no very great interest;—though the young ladies were all very well.  But,
in this respect, I was then a Stoic, till such time as I might be able to
throw myself at the feet of her whom I was ready to proclaim the most
lovely of all the Dulcineas of Andalucia.  He carried me up by boat and
railway to Xeres; gave me a most terrific headache, by dragging me out
into the glare of the sun, after I had tasted some half a dozen different
wines, and went through all the ordinary hospitalities.  On the next day
we returned to Puerto, and from thence getting across to St. Lucar and
Bonanza, found ourselves on the banks of the Guadalquivir, and took our
places in the boat for Seville.  I need say but little to my readers
respecting that far-famed river.  Thirty years ago we in England
generally believed that on its banks was to be found a pure elysium of
pastoral beauty; that picturesque shepherds and lovely maidens here fed
their flocks in fields of asphodel; that the limpid stream ran cool and
crystal over bright stones and beneath perennial shade; and that every
thing on the Guadalquivir was as lovely and as poetical as its name.
Now, it is pretty widely known that no uglier river oozes down to its
bourn in the sea through unwholesome banks of low mud.  It is brown and
dirty; ungifted by any scenic advantage; margined for miles upon miles by
huge, flat, expansive fields, in which cattle are reared,—the bulls
wanted for the bullfights among other; and birds of prey sit constant on
the shore, watching for the carcases of such as die.  Such are the charms
of the golden Guadalquivir.

At first we were very dull on board that steamer.  I never found myself
in a position in which there was less to do.  There was a nasty smell
about the little boat which made me almost ill; every turn in the river
was so exactly like the last, that we might have been standing still;
there was no amusement except eating, and that, when once done, was not
of a kind to make an early repetition desirable.  Even Johnson was
becoming dull, and I began to doubt whether I was so desirous as I once
had been to travel the length and breadth of all Spain.  But about noon a
little incident occurred which did for a time remove some of our tedium.
The boat had stopped to take in passengers on the river; and, among
others, a man had come on board dressed in a fashion that, to my eyes,
was equally strange and picturesque.  Indeed, his appearance was so
singular, that I could not but regard him with care, though I felt at
first averse to stare at a fellow-passenger on account of his clothes.
He was a man of about fifty, but as active apparently as though not more
than twenty five; he was of low stature, but of admirable make; his hair
was just becoming grizzled, but was short and crisp and well cared for;
his face was prepossessing, having a look of good humour added to
courtesy, and there was a pleasant, soft smile round his mouth which
ingratiated one at the first sight.  But it was his dress rather than his
person which attracted attention.  He wore the ordinary Andalucian cap—of
which such hideous parodies are now making themselves common in
England—but was not contented with the usual ornament of the double tuft.
The cap was small, and jaunty; trimmed with silk velvet—as is common here
with men careful to adorn their persons; but this man’s cap was finished
off with a jewelled button and golden filigree work.  He was dressed in a
short jacket with a stand up collar; and that also was covered with
golden buttons and with golden button-holes.  It was all gilt down the
front, and all lace down the back.  The rows of buttons were double; and
those of the more backward row hung down in heavy pendules.  His
waistcoat was of coloured silk—very pretty to look at; and ornamented
with a small sash, through which gold threads were worked.  All the
buttons of his breeches also were of gold; and there were gold tags to
all the button-holes.  His stockings were of the finest silk, and clocked
with gold from the knee to the ankle.

Dress any Englishman in such a garb and he will at once give you the idea
of a hog in armour.  In the first place he will lack the proper spirit to
carry it off, and in the next place the motion of his limbs will disgrace
the ornaments they bear.  “And so best,” most Englishmen will say.  Very
likely; and, therefore, let no Englishman try it.  But my Spaniard did
not look at like a hog in armour.  He walked slowly down the plank into
the boat, whistling lowly but very clearly a few bars from a opera tune.
It was plain to see that he was master of himself, of his ornaments, and
of his limbs.  He had no appearance of thinking that men were looking at
him, or of feeling that he was beauteous in his attire;—nothing could be
more natural than his foot-fall, or the quiet glance of his cheery gray
eye.  He walked up to the captain, who held the helm, and lightly raised
his hand to his cap.  The captain, taking one hand from the wheel, did
the same, and then the stranger, turning his back to the stern of the
vessel, and fronting down the river with his face, continued to whistle
slowly, clearly, and in excellent time.  Grand as were his clothes they
were no burden on his mind.

“What is he?” said I, going up to my friend Johnson with a whisper.

“Well, I’ve been looking at him,” said Johnson—which was true enough;
“he’s a — an uncommonly good-looking fellow, isn’t he?”

“Particularly so,” said I; “and got up quite irrespective of expense.  Is
he a—a—a gentleman, now, do you think?”

“Well, those things are so different in Spain that it’s almost impossible
to make an Englishman understand them.  One learns to know all this sort
of people by being with them in the country, but one can’t explain.”

“No; exactly.  Are they real gold?”

“Yes, yes; I dare say they are.  They sometimes have them silver gilt.”

“It is quite a common thing, then, isn’t it?” asked I.

“Well, not exactly; that—Ah! yes; I see! of course.  He is a torero.”

“A what?”

“A mayo.  I will explain it all to you.  You will see them about in all
places, and you will get used to them.”

“But I haven’t seen one other as yet.”

“No, and they are not all so gay as this, nor so new in their finery, you
know.”

“And what is a torero?”

“Well, a torero is a man engaged in bull-fighting.”

“Oh! he is a matador, is he?” said I, looking at him with more than all
my eyes.

“No, not exactly that;—not of necessity.  He is probably a mayo.  A
fellow that dresses himself smart for fairs, and will be seen hanging
about with the bull-fighters.  What would be a sporting fellow in
England—only he won’t drink and curse like a low man on the turf there.
Come, shall we go and speak to him?”

“I can’t talk to him,” said I, diffident of my Spanish.  I had received
lessons in England from Maria Daguilar; but six weeks is little enough
for making love, let alone the learning of a foreign language.

“Oh!  I’ll do the talking.  You’ll find the language easy enough before
long.  It soon becomes the same as English to you, when you live among
them.”  And then Johnson, walking up to the stranger, accosted him with
that good-natured familiarity with which a thoroughly nice fellow always
opens a conversation with his inferior.  Of course I could not understand
the words which were exchanged; but it was clear enough that the “mayo”
took the address in good part, and was inclined to be communicative and
social.

“They are all of pure gold,” said Johnson, turning to me after a minute,
making as he spoke a motion with his head to show the importance of the
information.

“Are they indeed?” said I.  “Where on earth did a fellow like that get
them?”  Whereupon Johnson again returned to his conversation with the
man.  After another minute he raised his hand, and began to finger the
button on the shoulder; and to aid him in doing so, the man of the
bull-ring turned a little on one side.

“They are wonderfully well made,” said Johnson, talking to me, and still
fingering the button.  “They are manufactured, he says, at Osuna, and he
tells me that they make them better there than anywhere else.”

“I wonder what the whole set would cost?” said I.  “An enormous deal of
money for a fellow like him, I should think!”

“Over twelve ounces,” said Johnson, having asked the question; “and that
will be more than forty pounds.”

“What an uncommon ass he must be!” said I.

As Johnson by this time was very closely scrutinising the whole set of
ornaments I thought I might do so also, and going up close to our friend,
I too began to handle the buttons and tags on the other side.  Nothing
could have been more good-humoured than he was—so much so that I was
emboldened to hold up his arm that I might see the cut of his coat, to
take off his cap and examine the make, to stuff my finger in beneath his
sash, and at last to kneel down while I persuaded him to hold up his legs
that I might look to the clocking.  The fellow was thorough good-natured,
and why should I not indulge my curiosity?

“You’ll upset him if you don’t take care,” said Johnson; for I had got
fast hold of him by one ankle, and was determined to finish the survey
completely.

“Oh, no, I shan’t,” said I; “a bull-fighting chap can surely stand on one
leg.  But what I wonder at is, how on earth he can afford it!”  Whereupon
Johnson again began to interrogate him in Spanish.

“He says he has got no children,” said Johnson, having received a reply,
“and that as he has nobody but himself to look after, he is able to allow
himself such little luxuries.”

“Tell him that I say he would be better with a wife and couple of
babies,” said I—and Johnson interpreted.

“He says that he’ll think of it some of these days, when he finds that
the supply of fools in the world is becoming short,” said Johnson.

We had nearly done with him now; but after regaining my feet, I addressed
myself once more to the heavy pendules, which hung down almost under his
arm.  I lifted one of these, meaning to feel its weight between my
fingers; but unfortunately I gave a lurch, probably through the motion of
the boat, and still holding by the button, tore it almost off from our
friend’s coat.

“Oh, I am so sorry,” I said, in broad English.

“It do not matter at all,” he said, bowing, and speaking with equal
plainness.  And then, taking a knife from his pocket, he cut the pendule
off, leaving a bit of torn cloth on the side of his jacket.

“Upon my word, I am quite unhappy,” said I; “but I always am so awkward.”
Whereupon he bowed low.

“Couldn’t I make it right?” said I, bringing out my purse.

He lifted his hand, and I saw that it was small and white; he lifted it
and gently put it upon my purse, smiling sweetly as he did so.  “Thank
you, no, señor; thank you, no.”  And then, bowing to us both, he walked
away down into the cabin.

“Upon my word he is a deuced well-mannered fellow,” said I.

“You shouldn’t have offered him money,” said Johnson; “a Spaniard does
not like it.”

“Why, I thought you could do nothing without money in this country.
Doesn’t every one take bribes?”

“Ah! yes; that is a different thing; but not the price of a button.  By
Jove! he understood English, too.  Did you see that?”

“Yes; and I called him an ass!  I hope he doesn’t mind it.”

“Oh! no; he won’t think anything about it,” said Johnson.  “That sort of
fellows don’t.  I dare say we shall see him in the bull-ring next Sunday,
and then we’ll make all right with a glass of lemonade.”

And so our adventure ended with the man of the gold ornaments.  I was
sorry that I had spoken English before him so heedlessly, and resolved
that I would never be guilty of such gaucherie again.  But, then, who
would think that a Spanish bull-fighter would talk a foreign language?  I
was sorry, also, that I had torn his coat; it had looked so awkward; and
sorry again that I had offered the man money.  Altogether I was a little
ashamed of myself; but I had too much to look forward to at Seville to
allow any heaviness to remain long at my heart; and before I had arrived
at the marvellous city I had forgotten both him and his buttons.

Nothing could be nicer than the way in which I was welcomed at Mr.
Daguilar’s house, or more kind—I may almost say affectionate—than Maria’s
manner to me.  But it was too affectionate; and I am not sure that I
should not have liked my reception better had she been more diffident in
her tone, and less inclined to greet me with open warmth.  As it was, she
again gave me her cheek to kiss, in her father’s presence, and called me
dear John, and asked me specially after some rabbits which I had kept at
home merely for a younger sister; and then it seemed as though she were
in no way embarrassed by the peculiar circumstances of our position.
Twelve months since I had asked her to be my wife, and now she was to
give me an answer; and yet she was as assured in her gait, and as
serenely joyous in her tone, as though I were a brother just returned
from college.  It could not be that she meant to refuse me, or she would
not smile on me and be so loving; but I could almost have found it in my
heart to wish that she would.  “It is quite possible,” said I to myself,
“that I may not be found so ready for this family bargain.  A love that
is to be had like a bale of goods is not exactly the love to suit my
taste.”  But then, when I met her again in the morning I could no more
have quarrelled with her than I could have flown.

I was inexpressibly charmed with the whole city, and especially with the
house in which Mr. Daguilar lived.  It opened from the corner of a
narrow, unfrequented street—a corner like an elbow—and, as seen from the
exterior, there was nothing prepossessing to recommend it; but the outer
door led by a short hall or passage to an inner door or grille, made of
open ornamental iron-work, and through that we entered a court, or patio,
as they I called it.  Nothing could be more lovely or deliciously cool
than was this small court.  The building on each side was covered by
trellis-work; and beautiful creepers, vines, and parasite flowers, now in
the full magnificence of the early summer, grew up and clustered round
the windows.  Every inch of wall was covered, so that none of the glaring
whitewash wounded the eye.  In the four corners of the patio were four
large orange-trees, covered with fruit.  I would not say a word in
special praise of these, remembering that childish promise she had made
on my behalf.  In the middle of the court there was a fountain, and round
about on the marble floor there were chairs, and here and there a small
table, as though the space were really a portion of the house.  It was
here that we used to take our cup of coffee and smoke our cigarettes, I
and old Mr. Daguilar, while Maria sat by, not only approving, but
occasionally rolling for me the thin paper round the fragrant weed with
her taper fingers.  Beyond the patio was an open passage or gallery,
filled also with flowers in pots; and then, beyond this, one entered the
drawing-room of the house.  It was by no means a princely palace or
mansion, fit for the owner of untold wealth.  The rooms were not over
large nor very numerous; but the most had been made of a small space, and
everything had been done to relieve the heat of an almost tropical sun.

“It is pretty, is it not?” she said, as she took me through it.

“Very pretty,” I said.  “I wish we could live in such houses.”

“Oh, they would not do at all for dear old fat, cold, cozy England.  You
are quite different, you know, in everything from us in the south; more
phlegmatic, but then so much steadier.  The men and the houses are all
the same.”

I can hardly tell why, but even this wounded me.  It seemed to me as
though she were inclined to put into one and the same category things
English, dull, useful, and solid; and that she was disposed to show a
sufficient appreciation for such necessaries of life, though she herself
had another and inner sense—a sense keenly alive to the poetry of her own
southern chime; and that I, as being English, was to have no
participation in this latter charm.  An English husband might do very
well, the interests of the firm might make such an arrangement desirable,
such a mariage de convenance—so I argued to myself—might be quite
compatible with—with heaven only knows what delights of superterrestial
romance, from which I, as being an English thick-headed lump of useful
coarse mortality, was to be altogether debarred.  She had spoken to me of
oranges, and having finished the survey of the house, she offered me some
sweet little cakes.  It could not be that of such things were the
thoughts which lay undivulged beneath the clear waters of those deep
black eyes—undivulged to me, though no one else could have so good a
right to read those thoughts!  It could not be that that noble brow gave
index of a mind intent on the trade of which she spoke so often!  Words
of other sort than any that had been vouchsafed to me must fall at times
from the rich curves of that perfect month.

So felt I then, pining for something to make me unhappy.  Ah, me!  I know
all about it now, and am content.  But I wish that some learned pundit
would give us a good definition of romance, would describe in words that
feeling with which our hearts are so pestered when we are young, which
makes us sigh for we know not what, and forbids us to be contented with
what God sends us.  We invest female beauty with impossible attributes,
and are angry because our women have not the spiritualised souls of
angels, anxious as we are that they should also be human in the flesh.  A
man looks at her he would love as at a distant landscape in a mountainous
land.  The peaks are glorious with more than the beauty of earth and rock
and vegetation.  He dreams of some mysterious grandeur of design which
tempts him on under the hot sun, and over the sharp rock, till he has
reached the mountain goal which he had set before him.  But when there,
he finds that the beauty is well-nigh gone, and as for that delicious
mystery on which his soul had fed, it has vanished for ever.

I know all about it now, and am, as I said, content.  Beneath those deep
black eyes there lay a well of love, good, honest, homely love, love of
father and husband and children that were to come—of that love which
loves to see the loved ones prospering in honesty.  That noble brow—for
it is noble; I am unchanged in that opinion, and will go unchanged to my
grave—covers thoughts as to the welfare of many, and an intellect fitted
to the management of a household, of servants, namely, and children, and
perchance a husband.  That mouth can speak words of wisdom, of very
useful wisdom—though of poetry it has latterly uttered little that was
original.  Poetry and romance!  They are splendid mountain views seen in
the distance.  So let men be content to see them, and not attempt to
tread upon the fallacious heather of the mystic hills.

In the first week of my sojourn in Seville I spoke no word of overt love
to Maria, thinking, as I confess, to induce her thereby to alter her mode
of conduct to myself.  “She knows that I have come here to make love to
her—to repeat my offer; and she will at any rate be chagrined if I am
slow to do so.”  But it had no effect.  At home my mother was rather
particular about her table, and Maria’s greatest efforts seemed to be
used in giving me as nice dinners as we gave her.  In those days I did
not care a straw about my dinner, and so I took an opportunity of telling
her.  “Dear me,” said she, looking at me almost with grief, “do you not?
What a pity!  And do you not like music either.”  “Oh, yes, I adore it,”
I replied.  I felt sure at the time that had I been born in her own sunny
clime, she would never have talked to me about eating.  But that was my
mistake.

I used to walk out with her about the city, seeing all that is there of
beauty and magnificence.  And in what city is there more that is worth
the seeing?  At first this was very delightful to me, for I felt that I
was blessed with a privilege that would not be granted to any other man.
But its value soon fell in my eyes, for others would accost her, and walk
on the other side, talking to her in Spanish, as though I hardly existed,
or were a servant there for her protection.  And I was not allowed to
take her arm, and thus to appropriate her, as I should have done in
England.  “No, John,” she said, with the sweetest, prettiest smile, “we
don’t do that here; only when people are married.”  And she made this
allusion to married life out, openly, with no slightest tremor on her
tongue.

“Oh, I beg pardon,” said I, drawing back my hand, and feeling angry with
myself for not being fully acquainted with all the customs of a foreign
country.

“You need not beg pardon,” said she; “when we were in England we always
walked so.  It is just a custom, you know.”  And then I saw her drop her
large dark eyes to the ground, and bow gracefully in answer to some
salute.

I looked round, and saw that we had been joined by a young cavalier,—a
Spanish nobleman, as I saw at once; a man with jet black hair, and a
straight nose, and a black moustache, and patent leather boots, very slim
and very tall, and—though I would not confess it then—uncommonly
handsome.  I myself am inclined to be stout, my hair is light, my nose
broad, I have no hair on my upper lip, and my whiskers are rough and
uneven.  “I could punch your head though, my fine fellow,” said I to
myself, when I saw that he placed himself at Maria’s side, “and think
very little of the achievement.”

The wretch went on with us round the plaza for some quarter of an hour
talking Spanish with the greatest fluency, and she was every whit as
fluent.  Of course I could not understand a word that they said.  Of all
positions that a man can occupy, I think that that is about the most
uncomfortable; and I cannot say that, even up to this day, I have quite
forgiven her for that quarter of an hour.

“I shall go in,” said I, unable to bear my feelings, and preparing to
leave her.  “The heat is unendurable.”

“Oh dear, John, why did you not speak before?” she answered.  “You cannot
leave me here, you know, as I am in your charge; but I will go with you
almost directly.”  And then she finished her conversation with the
Spaniard, speaking with an animation she had never displayed in her
conversations with me.

It had been agreed between us for two or three days before this, that we
were to rise early on the following morning for the sake of ascending the
tower of the cathedral, and visiting the Giralda, as the iron figure is
called, which turns upon a pivot on the extreme summit.  We had often
wandered together up and down the long dark gloomy aisle of the
stupendous building, and had, together, seen its treasury of art; but as
yet we had not performed the task which has to be achieved by all
visitors to Seville; and in order that we might have a clear view over
the surrounding country, and not be tormented by the heat of an advanced
sun, we had settled that we would ascend the Giralda before breakfast.

And now, as I walked away from the plaza towards Mr. Daguilar’s house,
with Maria by my side, I made up my mind that I would settle my business
during this visit to the cathedral.  Yes, and I would so manage the
settlement that there should be no doubt left as to my intentions and my
own ideas.  I would not be guilty of shilly-shally conduct; I would tell
her frankly what I felt and what I thought, and would make her understand
that I did not desire her hand if I could not have her heart.  I did not
value the kindness of her manner, seeing that that kindness sprung from
indifference rather than passion; and so I would declare to her.  And I
would ask her, also, who was this young man with whom she was
intimate—for whom all her volubility and energy of tone seemed to be
employed?  She had told me once that it behoved her to consult a friend
in Seville as to the expediency of her marriage with me.  Was this the
friend whom she had wished to consult?  If so, she need not trouble
herself.  Under such circumstances I should decline the connection!  And
I resolved that I would find out how this might be.  A man who proposes
to take a woman to his bosom as his wife, has a right to ask for
information—ay, and to receive it too.  It flashed upon my mind at this
moment that Donna Maria was well enough inclined to come to me as my
wife, but —.  I could hardly define the “buts” to myself, for there were
three or four of them.  Why did she always speak to me in a tone of
childish affection, as though I were a schoolboy home for the holidays?
I would have all this out with her on the tower on the following morning,
standing under the Giralda.

On that morning we met together in the patio, soon after five o’clock,
and started for the cathedral.  She looked beautiful, with her black
mantilla over her head, and with black gloves on, and her black morning
silk dress—beautiful, composed, and at her ease, as though she were well
satisfied to undertake this early morning walk from feelings of good
nature—sustained, probably, by some under-current of a deeper sentiment.
Well; I would know all about it before I returned to her father’s house.

There hardly stands, as I think, on the earth, a building more remarkable
than the cathedral of Seville, and hardly one more grand.  Its enormous
size; its gloom and darkness; the richness of ornamentation in the
details, contrasted with the severe simplicity of the larger outlines;
the variety of its architecture; the glory of its paintings; and the
wondrous splendour of its metallic decoration, its altar-friezes,
screens, rails, gates, and the like, render it, to my mind, the first in
interest among churches.  It has not the coloured glass of Chartres, or
the marble glory of Milan, or such a forest of aisles as Antwerp, or so
perfect a hue in stone as Westminster, nor in mixed beauty of form and
colour does it possess anything equal to the choir of Cologne; but, for
combined magnificence and awe-compelling grandeur, I regard it as
superior to all other ecclesiastical edifices.

It is its deep gloom with which the stranger is so greatly struck on his
first entrance.  In a region so hot as the south of Spain, a cool
interior is a main object with the architect, and this it has been
necessary to effect by the exclusion of light; consequently the church is
dark, mysterious, and almost cold.  On the morning in question, as we
entered, it seemed to be filled with gloom, and the distant sound of a
slow footstep here and there beyond the transept inspired one almost with
awe.  Maria, when she first met me, had begun to talk with her usual
smile, offering me coffee and a biscuit before I started.  “I never eat
biscuit,” I said, with almost a severe tone, as I turned from her.  That
dark, horrid man of the plaza—would she have offered him a cake had she
been going to walk with him in the gloom of the morning?  After that
little had been spoken between us.  She walked by my side with her
accustomed smile; but she had, as I flattered myself, begun to learn that
I was not to be won by a meaningless good nature.  “We are lucky in our
morning for the view!” that was all she said, speaking with that
peculiarly clear, but slow pronunciation which she had assumed in
learning our language.

We entered the cathedral, and, walking the whole length of the aisle,
left it again at the porter’s porch at the farther end.  Here we passed
through a low door on to the stone flight of steps, and at once began to
ascend.  “There are a party of your countrymen up before us,” said Maria;
“the porter says that they went through the lodge half an hour since.”
“I hope they will return before we are on the top,” said I, bethinking
myself of the task that was before me.  And indeed my heart was hardly at
ease within me, for that which I had to say would require all the spirit
of which I was master.

The ascent to the Giralda is very long and very fatiguing; and we had to
pause on the various landings and in the singular belfry in order that
Miss Daguilar might recruit her strength and breath.  As we rested on one
of these occasions, in a gallery which runs round the tower below the
belfry, we heard a great noise of shouting, and a clattering of sticks
among the bells.  “It is the party of your countrymen who went up before
us,” said she.  “What a pity that Englishmen should always make so much
noise!”  And then she spoke in Spanish to the custodian of the bells, who
is usually to be found in a little cabin up there within the tower.  “He
says that they went up shouting like demons,” continued Maria; and it
seemed to me that she looked as though I ought to be ashamed of the name
of an Englishman.  “They may not be so solemn in their demeanour as
Spaniards,” I answered; “but, for all that, there may be quite as much in
them.”

We then again began to mount, and before we had ascended much farther we
passed my three countrymen.  They were young men, with gray coats and
gray trousers, with slouched hats, and without gloves.  They had fair
faces and fair hair, and swung big sticks in their hands, with crooked
handles.  They laughed and talked loud, and, when we met them, seemed to
be racing with each other; but nevertheless they were gentlemen.  No one
who knows by sight what an English gentleman is, could have doubted that;
but I did acknowledge to myself that they should have remembered that the
edifice they were treading was a church, and that the silence they were
invading was the cherished property of a courteous people.

“They are all just the same as big boys,” said Maria.  The colour
instantly flew into my face, and I felt that it was my duty to speak up
for my own countrymen.  The word “boys” especially wounded my ears.  It
was as a boy that she treated me; but, on looking at that befringed young
Spanish Don—who was not, apparently, my elder in age—she had recognised a
man.  However, I said nothing further till I reached the summit.  One
cannot speak with manly dignity while one is out of breath on a
staircase.

“There, John,” she said, stretching her hands away over the fair plain of
the Guadalquivir, as soon as we stood against the parapet; “is not that
lovely?”

I would not deign to notice this.  “Maria,” I said, “I think that you are
too hard upon my countrymen?”

“Too hard! no; for I love them.  They are so good and industrious; and
come home to their wives, and take care of their children.  But why do
they make themselves so—so—what the French call gauche?”

“Good and industrious, and come home to their wives!” thought I.  “I
believe you hardly understand us as yet,” I answered.  “Our domestic
virtues are not always so very prominent; but, I believe, we know how to
conduct ourselves as gentlemen: at any rate, as well as Spaniards.”  I
was very angry—not at the faults, but at the good qualities imputed to
us.

“In affairs of business, yes,” said Maria, with a look of firm confidence
in her own opinion—that look of confidence which she has never lost, and
I pray that she may never lose it while I remain with her—“but in the
little intercourses of the world, no!  A Spaniard never forgets what is
personally due either to himself or his neighbours.  If he is eating an
onion, he eats it as an onion should be eaten.”

“In such matters as that he is very grand, no doubt,” said I, angrily.

“And why should you not eat an onion properly, John?  Now, I heard a
story yesterday from Don—about two Englishmen, which annoyed me very
much.”  I did not exactly catch the name of the Don in question but I
felt through every nerve in my body that it was the man who had been
talking to her on the plaza.

“And what have they done?” said I.  “But it is the same everywhere.  We
are always abused; but, nevertheless, no people are so welcome.  At any
rate, we pay for the mischief we do.”  I was angry with myself the moment
the words were out of my mouth, for, after all, there is no feeling more
mean than that pocket-confidence with which an Englishman sometimes
swaggers.

“There was no mischief done in this case,” she answered.  “It was simply
that two men have made themselves ridiculous for ever.  The story is all
about Seville, and, of course, it annoys me that they should be
Englishmen.”

“And what did they do?”

“The Marquis D’Almavivas was coming up to Seville in the boat, and they
behaved to him in the most outrageous manner.  He is here now and is
going to give a series of fêtes.  Of course he will not ask a single
Englishman.”

“We shall manage to live even though the Marquis D’Almavivas may frown
upon us,” said I, proudly.

“He is the richest, and also the best of our noblemen,” continued Maria;
“and I never heard of anything so absurd as what they did to him.  It
made me blush when Don — told me.”  Don Tomàs, I thought she said.

“If he be the best of your noblemen, how comes it that he is angry
because he has met two vulgar men?  It is not to be supposed that every
Englishman is a gentleman.”

“Angry!  Oh, no! he was not angry; he enjoyed the joke too much for that.
He got completely the best of them, though they did not know it; poor
fools!  How would your Lord John Russell behave if two Spaniards in an
English railway carriage were to pull him about and tear his clothes?”

“He would give them in charge to a policeman, of course,” said I,
speaking of such a matter with the contempt it deserved.

“If that were done here your ambassador would be demanding national
explanations.  But Almavivas did much better;—he laughed at them without
letting them know it.”

“But do you mean that they took hold of him violently, without any
provocation?  They must have been drunk.”

“Oh, no, they were sober enough.  I did not see it, so I do not quite
know exactly how it was, but I understand that they committed themselves
most absurdly, absolutely took hold of his coat and tore it, and—; but
they did such ridiculous things that I cannot tell you.”  And yet Don
Tomàs, if that was the man’s name, had been able to tell her, and she had
been able to listen to him.

“‘What made them take hold of the marquis?” said I.

“Curiosity, I suppose,” she answered.  “He dresses somewhat fancifully,
and they could not understand that any one should wear garments different
from their own.”  But even then the blow did not strike home upon me.

“Is it not pretty to look down upon the quiet town?” she said, coming
close up to me, so that the skirt of her dress pressed me, and her elbow
touched my arm.  Now was the moment I should have asked her how her heart
stood towards me; but I was sore and uncomfortable, and my destiny was
before me.  She was willing enough to let these English faults pass
without further notice, but I would not allow the subject I drop.

“I will find out who these men were,” said I, “and learn the truth of it.
When did it occur?”

“Last Thursday, I think he said.”

“Why, that was the day we came up in the boat, Johnson and myself.  There
was no marquis there then, and we were the only Englishmen on board.”

“It was on Thursday, certainly, because it was well known in Seville that
he arrived on that day.  You must have remarked him because he talks
English perfectly—though by-the-bye, these men would go on chattering
before him about himself as though it were impossible that a Spaniard
should know their language.  They are ignorant of Spanish, and they
cannot bring themselves to believe that any one should be better educated
than themselves.”

Now the blow had fallen, and I straightway appreciated the necessity of
returning immediately to Clapham where my family resided, and giving up
for ever all idea of Spanish connections.  I had resolved to assert the
full strength of my manhood on that tower, and now words had been spoken
which left me weak as a child.  I felt that I was shivering, and did not
dare to pronounce the truth which must be made known.  As to speaking of
love, and signifying my pleasure that Don Tomàs should for the future be
kept at a distance, any such effort was quite beyond me.  Had Don Tomàs
been there, he might have walked off with her from before my face without
a struggle on my part.  “Now I remember about it,” she continued, “I
think he must have been in the boat on Thursday.”

“And now that I remember,” I replied, turning away to hide my
embarrassment, “he was there.  Your friend down below in the plaza seems
to have made out a grand story.  No doubt he is not fond of the English.
There was such a man there, and I did take hold—”

“Oh, John, was it you?”

“Yes, Donna Maria, it was I; and if Lord John Russell were to dress
himself in the same way—”  But I had no time to complete my description
of what might occur under so extravagantly impossible a combination of
circumstances, for as I was yet speaking, the little door leading out on
to the leads of the tower was opened and my friend, the mayo of the boat,
still bearing gewgaws on his back, stepped up on to the platform.  My eye
instantly perceived that the one pendule was still missing from his
jacket.  He did not come alone, but three other gentlemen followed him,
who, however, had no peculiarities in their dress.  He saw me at once and
bowed and smiled; and then observing Donna Maria, he lifted his cap from
his head, and addressing himself to her in Spanish, began to converse
with her as though she were an old friend.

“Señor,” said Maria, after the first words of greeting had been spoken
between them; “you must permit me to present to you my father’s most
particular friend, and my own,—Mr. Pomfret; John, this is the Marquis
D’Almavivas.”

I cannot now describe the grace with which this introduction was
effected, or the beauty of her face as she uttered the word.  There was a
boldness about her as though she had said, “I know it all—the whole
story.  But, in spite of that you must take him on my representation, and
be gracious to him in spite of what he has done.  You must be content to
do that; or in quarrelling with him you must quarrel with me also.”  And
it was done at the spur of the moment—without delay.  She, who not five
minutes since had been loudly condemning the unknown Englishman for his
rudeness, had already pardoned him, now that he was known to be her
friend; and had determined that he should be pardoned by others also or
that she would share his disgrace.  I recognised the nobleness of this at
the moment; but, nevertheless, I was so sore that I would almost have
preferred that she should have disowned me.

The marquis immediately lifted his cap with his left hand while he gave
me his right.  “I have already had the pleasure of meeting this
gentleman,” he said; “we had some conversation in the boat together.”

“Yes,” said I, pointing to his rent, “and you still bear the marks of our
encounter.”

“Was it not delightful, Donna Maria,” he continued, turning to her; “your
friend’s friend took me for a torero?”

“And it served you properly, señor,” said Donna Maria, laughing, “you
have no right to go about with all those rich ornaments upon you.”

“Oh! quite properly; indeed, I make no complaint; and I must beg your
friend to understand, and his friend also, how grateful I am for their
solicitude as to my pecuniary welfare.  They were inclined to be severe
on me for being so extravagant in such trifles.  I was obliged to explain
that I had no wife at home kept without her proper allowance of dresses,
in order that I might be gay.”

“They are foreigners, and you should forgive their error,” said she.

“And in token that I do so,” said the marquis, “I shall beg your friend
to accept the little ornament which attracted his attention.”  And so
saying, he pulled the identical button out of his pocket, and gracefully
proffered it to me.

“I shall carry it about with me always,” said I, accepting it, “as a
memento of humiliation.  When I look at it, I shall ever remember the
folly of an Englishman and the courtesy of a Spaniard;” and as I made the
speech I could not but reflect whether it might, under any circumstances,
be possible that Lord John Russell should be induced to give a button off
his coat to a Spaniard.

There were other civil speeches made, and before we left the tower the
marquis had asked me to his parties, and exacted from me an unwilling
promise that I would attend them.  “The señora,” he said, bowing again to
Maria, “would, he was sure, grace them.  She had done so on the previous
year; and as I had accepted his little present I was bound to acknowledge
him as my friend.”  All this was very pretty, and of course I said that I
would go, but I had not at that time the slightest intention of doing so.
Maria had behaved admirably; she had covered my confusion, and shown
herself not ashamed to own me, delinquent as I was; but, not the less,
had she expressed her opinion, in language terribly strong, of the
awkwardness of which I had been guilty, and had shown almost an aversion
to my English character.  I should leave Seville as quickly as I could,
and should certainly not again put myself in the way of the Marquis
D’Almavivas.  Indeed, I dreaded the moment that I should be first alone
with her, and should find myself forced to say something indicative of my
feelings—to hear something also indicative of her feelings.  I had come
out this morning resolved to demand my rights and to exercise them—and
now my only wish was to man away.  I hated the marquis, and longed to be
alone that I might cast his button from me.  To think that a man should
be so ruined by such a trifle!

We descended that prodigious flight without a word upon the subject, and
almost without a word at all.  She had carried herself well in the
presence of Almavivas, and had been too proud to seem ashamed of her
companion; but now, as I could well see, her feelings of disgust and
contempt had returned.  When I begged her not to hurry herself, she would
hardly answer me; and when she did speak, her voice was constrained and
unlike herself.  And yet how beautiful she was!  Well, my dream of
Spanish love must be over.  But I was sure of this; that having known
her, and given her my heart, I could never afterwards share it with
another.

We came out at last on the dark, gloomy aisle of the cathedral, and
walked together without a word up along the side of the choir, till we
came to the transept.  There was not a soul near us, and not a sound was
to be heard but the distant, low pattering of a mass, then in course of
celebration at some far-off chapel in the cathedral.  When we got to the
transept Maria turned a little, as though she was going to the transept
door, and then stopped herself.  She stood still; and when I stood also,
she made two steps towards me, and put her hand on my arm.  “Oh, John!”
she said.

“‘Well,” said I; “after all it does not signify.  You can make a joke of
it when my back is turned.”

“Dearest John!”—she had never spoken to me in that way before—“you must
not be angry with me.  It is better that we should explain to each other,
is it not?”

“Oh, much better.  I am very glad you heard of it at once.  I do not look
at it quite in the same light that you do; but nevertheless—”

“What do you mean?  But I know you are angry with me.  And yet you cannot
think that I intended those words for you.  Of course I know now that
there was nothing rude in what passed.”

“Oh, but there was.”

“No, I am sure there was not.  You could not be rude though you are so
free hearted.  I see it all now, and so does the marquis.  You will like
him so much when you come to know him.  Tell me that you won’t be cross
with me for what I have said.  Sometimes I think that I have displeased
you, and yet my whole wish has been to welcome you to Seville, and to
make you comfortable as an old friend.  Promise me that you will not be
cross with me.”

Cross with her!  I certainly had no intention of being cross, but I had
begun to think that she would not care what my humour might be.  “Maria,”
I said, taking hold of her hand.

“No, John, do not do that.  It is in the church, you know.”

“Maria, will you answer me a question?”

“Yes,” she said, very slowly, looking dawn upon the stone slabs beneath
our feet.

“Do you love me?”

“Love you!”

“Yes, do you love me?  You were to give me an answer here, in Seville,
and now I ask for it.  I have almost taught myself to think that it is
needless to ask; and now this horrid mischance—”

“What do you mean?” said she, speaking very quickly.

“Why this miserable blunder about the marquis’s button!  After that I
suppose—”

“The marquis!  Oh, John, is that to make a difference between you and
me?—a little joke like that?”

“But does it not?”

“Make a change between us!—such a thing as that!  Oh, John!”

“But tell me, Maria, what am I to hope?  If you will say that you can
love me, I shall care nothing for the marquis.  In that case I can bear
to be laughed at.”

“Who will dare to laugh at you?  Not the marquis, whom I am sure you will
like.”

“Your friend in this plaza, who told you of all this.”

“What, poor Tomàs!”

“I do not know about his being poor.  I mean the gentleman who was with
you last night.”

“Yes, Tomàs.  You do not know who he is?”

“Not in the least.”

“How droll!  He is your own clerk—partly your own, now that you are one
of the firm.  And, John, I mean to make you do something for him; he is
such a good fellow; and last year he married a young girl whom I love—oh,
almost like a sister.”

Do something for him!  Of course I would.  I promised, then and there,
that I would raise his salary to any conceivable amount that a Spanish
clerk could desire; which promise I have since kept, if not absolutely to
the letter, at any rate, to an extent which has been considered
satisfactory by the gentleman’s wife.

“But, Maria—dearest Maria—”

“Remember, John, we are in the church; and poor papa will be waiting
breakfast.”

I need hardly continue the story further.  It will be known to all that
my love-suit throve in spite of my unfortunate raid on the button of the
Marquis D’Almavivas, at whose series of fêtes through that month I was, I
may boast, an honoured guest.  I have since that had the pleasure of
entertaining him in my own poor house in England, and one of our boys
bears his Christian name.

From that day in which I ascended the Giralda to this present day in
which I write, I have never once had occasion to complain of a deficiency
of romance either in Maria Daguilar or in Maria Pomfret.





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