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Title: Carmen
Author: Mérimée, Prosper
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 "Carmen" ***

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by Prosper Merimee

Translated by Lady Mary Loyd


I had always suspected the geographical authorities did not know what
they were talking about when they located the battlefield of Munda in
the county of the Bastuli-Poeni, close to the modern Monda, some two
leagues north of Marbella.

According to my own surmise, founded on the text of the anonymous author
of the _Bellum Hispaniense_, and on certain information culled from the
excellent library owned by the Duke of Ossuna, I believed the site of
the memorable struggle in which Caesar played double or quits, once and
for all, with the champions of the Republic, should be sought in the
neighbourhood of Montilla.

Happening to be in Andalusia during the autumn of 1830, I made a
somewhat lengthy excursion, with the object of clearing up certain
doubts which still oppressed me. A paper which I shall shortly publish
will, I trust, remove any hesitation that may still exist in the minds
of all honest archaeologists. But before that dissertation of mine
finally settles the geographical problem on the solution of which the
whole of learned Europe hangs, I desire to relate a little tale. It will
do no prejudice to the interesting question of the correct locality of

I had hired a guide and a couple of horses at Cordova, and had
started on my way with no luggage save a few shirts, and Caesar’s
_Commentaries_. As I wandered, one day, across the higher lands of the
Cachena plain, worn with fatigue, parched with thirst, scorched by a
burning sun, cursing Caesar and Pompey’s sons alike, most heartily, my
eye lighted, at some distance from the path I was following, on a little
stretch of green sward dotted with reeds and rushes. That betokened the
neighbourhood of some spring, and, indeed, as I drew nearer I perceived
that what had looked like sward was a marsh, into which a stream, which
seemed to issue from a narrow gorge between two high spurs of the Sierra
di Cabra, ran and disappeared.

If I rode up that stream, I argued, I was likely to find cooler water,
fewer leeches and frogs, and mayhap a little shade among the rocks.

At the mouth of the gorge, my horse neighed, and another horse,
invisible to me, neighed back. Before I had advanced a hundred paces,
the gorge suddenly widened, and I beheld a sort of natural amphitheatre,
thoroughly shaded by the steep cliffs that lay all around it. It was
impossible to imagine any more delightful halting place for a traveller.
At the foot of the precipitous rocks, the stream bubbled upward and fell
into a little basin, lined with sand that was as white as snow. Five or
six splendid evergreen oaks, sheltered from the wind, and cooled by the
spring, grew beside the pool, and shaded it with their thick foliage.
And round about it a close and glossy turf offered the wanderer a better
bed than he could have found in any hostelry for ten leagues round.

The honour of discovering this fair spot did not belong to me. A man was
resting there already--sleeping, no doubt--before I reached it. Roused
by the neighing of the horses, he had risen to his feet and had moved
over to his mount, which had been taking advantage of its master’s
slumbers to make a hearty feed on the grass that grew around. He was an
active young fellow, of middle height, but powerful in build, and proud
and sullen-looking in expression. His complexion, which may once have
been fine, had been tanned by the sun till it was darker than his hair.
One of his hands grasped his horse’s halter. In the other he held a
brass blunderbuss.

At the first blush, I confess, the blunderbuss, and the savage looks
of the man who bore it, somewhat took me aback. But I had heard so much
about robbers, that, never seeing any, I had ceased to believe in their
existence. And further, I had seen so many honest farmers arm themselves
to the teeth before they went out to market, that the sight of firearms
gave me no warrant for doubting the character of any stranger. “And
then,” quoth I to myself, “what could he do with my shirts and my
Elzevir edition of Caesar’s _Commentaries_?” So I bestowed a friendly
nod on the man with the blunderbuss, and inquired, with a smile, whether
I had disturbed his nap. Without any answer, he looked me over from
head to foot. Then, as if the scrutiny had satisfied him, he looked as
closely at my guide, who was just coming up. I saw the guide turn pale,
and pull up with an air of evident alarm. “An unlucky meeting!” thought
I to myself. But prudence instantly counselled me not to let any symptom
of anxiety escape me. So I dismounted. I told the guide to take off the
horses’ bridles, and kneeling down beside the spring, I laved my head
and hands and then drank a long draught, lying flat on my belly, like
Gideon’s soldiers.

Meanwhile, I watched the stranger, and my own guide. This last seemed to
come forward unwillingly. But the other did not appear to have any evil
designs upon us. For he had turned his horse loose, and the blunderbuss,
which he had been holding horizontally, was now dropped earthward.

Not thinking it necessary to take offence at the scant attention paid
me, I stretched myself full length upon the grass, and calmly asked the
owner of the blunderbuss whether he had a light about him. At the same
time I pulled out my cigar-case. The stranger, still without opening his
lips, took out his flint, and lost no time in getting me a light. He was
evidently growing tamer, for he sat down opposite to me, though he still
grasped his weapon. When I had lighted my cigar, I chose out the best I
had left, and asked him whether he smoked.

“Yes, senor,” he replied. These were the first words I had heard him
speak, and I noticed that he did not pronounce the letter _s_* in the
Andalusian fashion, whence I concluded he was a traveller, like myself,
though, maybe, somewhat less of an archaeologist.

     * The Andalusians aspirate the _s_, and pronounce it like
     the soft _c_ and the _z_, which Spaniards pronounce like the
     English _th_. An Andalusian may always be recognised by the
     way in which he says _senor_.

“You’ll find this a fairly good one,” said I, holding out a real Havana

He bowed his head slightly, lighted his cigar at mine, thanked me
with another nod, and began to smoke with a most lively appearance of

“Ah!” he exclaimed, as he blew his first puff of smoke slowly out of his
ears and nostrils. “What a time it is since I’ve had a smoke!”

In Spain the giving and accepting of a cigar establishes bonds of
hospitality similar to those founded in Eastern countries on the
partaking of bread and salt. My friend turned out more talkative than
I had hoped. However, though he claimed to belong to the _partido_ of
Montilla, he seemed very ill-informed about the country. He did not know
the name of the delightful valley in which we were sitting, he could
not tell me the names of any of the neighbouring villages, and when I
inquired whether he had not noticed any broken-down walls, broad-rimmed
tiles, or carved stones in the vicinity, he confessed he had never paid
any heed to such matters. On the other hand, he showed himself an expert
in horseflesh, found fault with my mount--not a difficult affair--and
gave me a pedigree of his own, which had come from the famous stud at
Cordova. It was a splendid creature, indeed, so tough, according to
its owner’s claim, that it had once covered thirty leagues in one day,
either at the gallop or at full trot the whole time. In the midst of his
story the stranger pulled up short, as if startled and sorry he had said
so much. “The fact is I was in a great hurry to get to Cordova,” he
went on, somewhat embarrassed. “I had to petition the judges about a
lawsuit.” As he spoke, he looked at my guide Antonio, who had dropped
his eyes.

The spring and the cool shade were so delightful that I bethought me
of certain slices of an excellent ham, which my friends at Montilla had
packed into my guide’s wallet. I bade him produce them, and invited the
stranger to share our impromptu lunch. If he had not smoked for a long
time, he certainly struck me as having fasted for eight-and-forty hours
at the very least. He ate like a starving wolf, and I thought to myself
that my appearance must really have been quite providential for the poor
fellow. Meanwhile my guide ate but little, drank still less, and spoke
never a word, although in the earlier part of our journey he had proved
himself a most unrivalled chatterer. He seemed ill at ease in the
presence of our guest, and a sort of mutual distrust, the cause of which
I could not exactly fathom, seemed to be between them.

The last crumbs of bread and scraps of ham had disappeared. We had each
smoked our second cigar; I told the guide to bridle the horses, and was
just about to take leave of my new friend, when he inquired where I was
going to spend the night.

Before I had time to notice a sign my guide was making to me I had
replied that I was going to the Venta del Cuervo.

“That’s a bad lodging for a gentleman like you, sir! I’m bound there
myself, and if you’ll allow me to ride with you, we’ll go together.”

“With pleasure!” I replied, mounting my horse. The guide, who was
holding my stirrup, looked at me meaningly again. I answered by
shrugging my shoulders, as though to assure him I was perfectly easy in
my mind, and we started on our way.

Antonio’s mysterious signals, his evident anxiety, a few words dropped
by the stranger, above all, his ride of thirty leagues, and the far from
plausible explanation he had given us of it, had already enabled me
to form an opinion as to the identity of my fellow-traveller. I had
no doubt at all I was in the company of a smuggler, and possibly of a
brigand. What cared I? I knew enough of the Spanish character to be very
certain I had nothing to fear from a man who had eaten and smoked
with me. His very presence would protect me in case of any undesirable
meeting. And besides, I was very glad to know what a brigand was really
like. One doesn’t come across such gentry every day. And there is a
certain charm about finding one’s self in close proximity to a dangerous
being, especially when one feels the being in question to be gentle and

I was hoping the stranger might gradually fall into a confidential
mood, and in spite of my guide’s winks, I turned the conversation to
the subject of highwaymen. I need scarcely say that I spoke of them with
great respect. At that time there was a famous brigand in Andalusia, of
the name of Jose-Maria, whose exploits were on every lip. “Supposing I
should be riding along with Jose-Maria!” said I to myself. I told all
the stories I knew about the hero--they were all to his credit, indeed,
and loudly expressed my admiration of his generosity and his valour.

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

“Is he just to himself, or is this an excess of modesty?” I queried,
mentally, for by dint of scrutinizing my companion, I had ended by
reconciling his appearance with the description of Jose-Maria which I
read posted up on the gates of various Andalusian towns. “Yes, this must
be he--fair hair, blue eyes, large mouth, good teeth, small hands, fine
shirt, a velvet jacket with silver buttons on it, white leather gaiters,
and a bay horse. Not a doubt about it. But his _incognito_ shall be
respected!” We reached the _venta_. It was just what he had described
to me. In other words, the most wretched hole of its kind I had as yet
beheld. One large apartment served as kitchen, dining-room, and sleeping
chamber. A fire was burning on a flat stone in the middle of the room,
and the smoke escaped through a hole in the roof, or rather hung in a
cloud some feet above the soil. Along the walls five or six mule rugs
were spread on the floor. These were the travellers’ beds. Twenty paces
from the house, or rather from the solitary apartment which I have just
described, stood a sort of shed, that served for a stable.

The only inhabitants of this delightful dwelling visible at the moment,
at all events, were an old woman, and a little girl of ten or twelve
years old, both of them as black as soot, and dressed in loathsome rags.
“Here’s the sole remnant of the ancient populations of Munda Boetica,”
 said I to myself. “O Caesar! O Sextus Pompeius, if you were to revisit
this earth how astounded you would be!”

When the old woman saw my travelling companion an exclamation of
surprise escaped her. “Ah! Senor Don Jose!” she cried.

Don Jose frowned and lifted his hand with a gesture of authority that
forthwith silenced the old dame.

I turned to my guide and gave him to understand, by a sign that no one
else perceived, that I knew all about the man in whose company I was
about to spend the night. Our supper was better than I expected. On
a little table, only a foot high, we were served with an old rooster,
fricasseed with rice and numerous peppers, then more peppers in oil,
and finally a _gaspacho_--a sort of salad made of peppers. These three
highly spiced dishes involved our frequent recourse to a goatskin filled
with Montella wine, which struck us as being delicious.

After our meal was over, I caught sight of a mandolin hanging up against
the wall--in Spain you see mandolins in every corner--and I asked the
little girl, who had been waiting on us, if she knew how to play it.

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

“Do me the kindness to sing me something,” I said to him, “I’m
passionately fond of your national music.”

“I can’t refuse to do anything for such a charming gentleman, who gives
me such excellent cigars,” responded Don Jose gaily, and having made
the child give him the mandolin, he sang to his own accompaniment. His
voice, though rough, was pleasing, the air he sang was strange and sad.
As to the words, I could not understand a single one of them.

“If I am not mistaken,” said I, “that’s not a Spanish air you have just
been singing. It’s like the _zorzicos_ I’ve heard in the Provinces,* and
the words must be in the Basque language.”

* The _privileged Provinces_, Alava, Biscay, Guipuzcoa, and a part of
Navarre, which all enjoy special _fueros_. The Basque language is spoken
in these countries.

“Yes,” said Don Jose, with a gloomy look. He laid the mandolin down on
the ground, and began staring with a peculiarly sad expression at the
dying fire. His face, at once fierce and noble-looking, reminded me,
as the firelight fell on it, of Milton’s Satan. Like him, perchance,
my comrade was musing over the home he had forfeited, the exile he had
earned, by some misdeed. I tried to revive the conversation, but so
absorbed was he in melancholy thought, that he gave me no answer.

The old woman had already gone to rest in a corner of the room, behind
a ragged rug hung on a rope. The little girl had followed her into this
retreat, sacred to the fair sex. Then my guide rose, and suggested that
I should go with him to the stable. But at the word Don Jose, waking, as
it were, with a start, inquired sharply whither he was going.

“To the stable,” answered the guide.

“What for? The horses have been fed! You can sleep here. The senor will
give you leave.”

“I’m afraid the senor’s horse is sick. I’d like the senor to see it.
Perhaps he’d know what should be done for it.”

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

But I did not care to rouse Don Jose’s suspicions, and being as we
were, I thought far the wisest course for me was to appear absolutely

I therefore told Antonio that I knew nothing on earth about horses, and
that I was desperately sleepy. Don Jose followed him to the stable, and
soon returned alone. He told me there was nothing the matter with the
horse, but that my guide considered the animal such a treasure that he
was scrubbing it with his jacket to make it sweat, and expected to spend
the night in that pleasing occupation. Meanwhile I had stretched myself
out on the mule rugs, having carefully wrapped myself up in my own
cloak, so as to avoid touching them. Don Jose, having begged me to
excuse the liberty he took in placing himself so near me, lay down
across the door, but not until he had primed his blunderbuss afresh and
carefully laid it under the wallet, which served him as a pillow.

I had thought I was so tired that I should be able to sleep even in such
a lodging. But within an hour a most unpleasant itching sensation roused
me from my first nap. As soon as I realized its nature, I rose to my
feet, feeling convinced I should do far better to spend the rest of
the night in the open air than beneath that inhospitable roof. Walking
tiptoe I reached the door, stepped over Don Jose, who was sleeping the
sleep of the just, and managed so well that I got outside the building
without waking him. Just beside the door there was a wide wooden
bench. I lay down upon it, and settled myself, as best I could, for the
remainder of the night. I was just closing my eyes for a second time
when I fancied I saw the shadow of a man and then the shadow of a horse
moving absolutely noiselessly, one behind the other. I sat upright, and
then I thought I recognised Antonio. Surprised to see him outside the
stable at such an hour, I got up and went toward him. He had seen me
first, and had stopped to wait for me.

“Where is he?” Antonio inquired in a low tone.

“In the _venta_. He’s asleep. The bugs don’t trouble him. But what are
you going to do with that horse?” I then noticed that, to stifle all
noise as he moved out of the shed, Antonio had carefully muffled the
horse’s feet in the rags of an old blanket.

“Speak lower, for God’s sake,” said Antonio. “You don’t know who that
man is. He’s Jose Navarro, the most noted bandit in Andalusia. I’ve been
making signs to you all day long, and you wouldn’t understand.”

“What do I care whether he’s a brigand or not,” I replied. “He hasn’t
robbed us, and I’ll wager he doesn’t want to.”

“That may be. But there are two hundred ducats on his head. Some lancers
are stationed in a place I know, a league and a half from here, and
before daybreak I’ll bring a few brawny fellows back with me. I’d have
taken his horse away, but the brute’s so savage that nobody but Navarro
can go near it.”

“Devil take you!” I cried. “What harm has the poor fellow done you that
you should want to inform against him? And besides, are you certain he
is the brigand you take him for?”

“Perfectly certain! He came after me into the stable just now, and said,
‘You seem to know me. If you tell that good gentleman who I am, I’ll
blow your brains out!’ You stay here, sir, keep close to him. You’ve
nothing to fear. As long as he knows you are there, he won’t suspect

As we talked, we had moved so far from the _venta_ that the noise of the
horse’s hoofs could not be heard there. In a twinkling Antonio snatched
off the rags he had wrapped around the creature’s feet, and was just
about to climb on its back. In vain did I attempt with prayers and
threats to restrain him.

“I’m only a poor man, senor,” quoth he, “I can’t afford to lose two
hundred ducats--especially when I shall earn them by ridding the country
of such vermin. But mind what you’re about! If Navarro wakes up, he’ll
snatch at his blunderbuss, and then look out for yourself! I’ve gone too
far now to turn back. Do the best you can for yourself!”

The villain was in his saddle already, he spurred his horse smartly, and
I soon lost sight of them both in the darkness.

I was very angry with my guide, and terribly alarmed as well. After a
moment’s reflection, I made up my mind, and went back to the _venta_.
Don Jose was still sound asleep, making up, no doubt, for the fatigue
and sleeplessness of several days of adventure. I had to shake him
roughly before I could wake him up. Never shall I forget his fierce
look, and the spring he made to get hold of his blunderbuss, which, as a
precautionary measure, I had removed to some distance from his couch.

“Senor,” I said, “I beg your pardon for disturbing you. But I have a
silly question to ask you. Would you be glad to see half a dozen lancers
walk in here?”

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

“Who told you?”

“It’s little matter whence the warning comes, so long as it be good.”

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

“I don’t know. In the stable, I fancy. But somebody told me--”

“Who told you? It can’t be the old hag--”

“Some one I don’t know. Without more parleying, tell me, yes or no, have
you any reason for not waiting till the soldiers come? If you have
any, lose no time! If not, good-night to you, and forgive me for having
disturbed your slumbers!”

“Ah, your guide! Your guide! I had my doubts of him at first--but--I’ll
settle with him! Farewell, senor. May God reward you for the service
I owe you! I am not quite so wicked as you think me. Yes, I still have
something in me that an honest man may pity. Farewell, senor! I have
only one regret--that I can not pay my debt to you!”

“As a reward for the service I have done you, Don Jose, promise me
you’ll suspect nobody--nor seek for vengeance. Here are some cigars for
your journey. Good luck to you.” And I held out my hand to him.

He squeezed it, without a word, took up his wallet and blunderbuss, and
after saying a few words to the old woman in a lingo that I could not
understand, he ran out to the shed. A few minutes later, I heard him
galloping out into the country.

As for me, I lay down again on my bench, but I did not go to sleep
again. I queried in my own mind whether I had done right to save a
robber, and possibly a murderer, from the gallows, simply and solely
because I had eaten ham and rice in his company. Had I not betrayed my
guide, who was supporting the cause of law and order? Had I not
exposed him to a ruffian’s vengeance? But then, what about the laws of

“A mere savage prejudice,” said I to myself. “I shall have to answer for
all the crimes this brigand may commit in future.” Yet is that instinct
of the conscience which resists every argument really a prejudice? It
may be I could not have escaped from the delicate position in which I
found myself without remorse of some kind. I was still tossed to and
fro, in the greatest uncertainty as to the morality of my behaviour,
when I saw half a dozen horsemen ride up, with Antonio prudently lagging
behind them. I went to meet them, and told them the brigand had fled
over two hours previously. The old woman, when she was questioned by the
sergeant, admitted that she knew Navarro, but said that living alone,
as she did, she would never have dared to risk her life by informing
against him. She added that when he came to her house, he habitually
went away in the middle of the night. I, for my part, was made to ride
to a place some leagues away, where I showed my passport, and signed a
declaration before the _Alcalde_. This done, I was allowed to recommence
my archaeological investigations. Antonio was sulky with me; suspecting
it was I who had prevented his earning those two hundred ducats.
Nevertheless, we parted good friends at Cordova, where I gave him as
large a gratuity as the state of my finances would permit.


I spent several days at Cordova. I had been told of a certain manuscript
in the library of the Dominican convent which was likely to furnish me
with very interesting details about the ancient Munda. The good fathers
gave me the most kindly welcome. I spent the daylight hours within their
convent, and at night I walked about the town. At Cordova a great many
idlers collect, toward sunset, in the quay that runs along the right
bank of the Guadalquivir. Promenaders on the spot have to breathe the
odour of a tan yard which still keeps up the ancient fame of the country
in connection with the curing of leather. But to atone for this, they
enjoy a sight which has a charm of its own. A few minutes before the
Angelus bell rings, a great company of women gathers beside the river,
just below the quay, which is rather a high one. Not a man would dare
to join its ranks. The moment the Angelus rings, darkness is supposed to
have fallen. As the last stroke sounds, all the women disrobe and step
into the water. Then there is laughing and screaming and a wonderful
clatter. The men on the upper quay watch the bathers, straining
their eyes, and seeing very little. Yet the white uncertain outlines
perceptible against the dark-blue waters of the stream stir the poetic
mind, and the possessor of a little fancy finds it not difficult to
imagine that Diana and her nymphs are bathing below, while he himself
runs no risk of ending like Acteon.

I have been told that one day a party of good-for-nothing fellows banded
themselves together, and bribed the bell-ringer at the cathedral to ring
the Angelus some twenty minutes before the proper hour. Though it was
still broad daylight, the nymphs of the Guadalquivir never hesitated,
and putting far more trust in the Angelus bell than in the sun, they
proceeded to their bathing toilette--always of the simplest--with an
easy conscience. I was not present on that occasion. In my day, the
bell-ringer was incorruptible, the twilight was very dim, and nobody but
a cat could have distinguished the difference between the oldest orange
woman, and the prettiest shop-girl, in Cordova.

One evening, after it had grown quite dusk, I was leaning over the
parapet of the quay, smoking, when a woman came up the steps leading
from the river, and sat down near me. In her hair she wore a great
bunch of jasmine--a flower which, at night, exhales a most intoxicating
perfume. She was dressed simply, almost poorly, in black, as most
work-girls are dressed in the evening. Women of the richer class only
wear black in the daytime, at night they dress _a la francesa_. When she
drew near me, the woman let the mantilla which had covered her head
drop on her shoulders, and “by the dim light falling from the stars” I
perceived her to be young, short in stature, well-proportioned, and with
very large eyes. I threw my cigar away at once. She appreciated this
mark of courtesy, essentially French, and hastened to inform me that she
was very fond of the smell of tobacco, and that she even smoked herself,
when she could get very mild _papelitos_. I fortunately happened to have
some such in my case, and at once offered them to her. She condescended
to take one, and lighted it at a burning string which a child brought
us, receiving a copper for its pains. We mingled our smoke, and talked
so long, the fair lady and I, that we ended by being almost alone on
the quay. I thought I might venture, without impropriety, to suggest our
going to eat an ice at the _neveria_.* After a moment of modest demur,
she agreed. But before finally accepting, she desired to know what
o’clock it was. I struck my repeater, and this seemed to astound her

     * A _café_ to which a depot of ice, or rather of snow, is
     attached. There is hardly a village in Spain without its

“What clever inventions you foreigners do have! What country do you
belong to, sir? You’re an Englishman, no doubt!”*

     * Every traveller in Spain who does not carry about samples
     of calicoes and silks is taken for an Englishman
     (_inglesito_). It is the same thing in the East.

“I’m a Frenchman, and your devoted servant. And you, senora, or
senorita, you probably belong to Cordova?”


“At all events, you are an Andalusian? Your soft way of speaking makes
me think so.”

“If you notice people’s accent so closely, you must be able to guess
what I am.”

“I think you are from the country of Jesus, two paces out of Paradise.”

I had learned the metaphor, which stands for Andalusia, from my friend
Francisco Sevilla, a well-known _picador_.

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

“Then perhaps you are of Moorish blood--or----” I stopped, not venturing
to add “a Jewess.”

“Oh come! You must see I’m a gipsy! Wouldn’t you like me to tell you _la
baji_?* Did you never hear tell of Carmencita? That’s who I am!”

* Your fortune.

I was such a miscreant in those days--now fifteen years ago--that the
close proximity of a sorceress did not make me recoil in horror. “So be
it!” I thought. “Last week I ate my supper with a highway robber. To-day
I’ll go and eat ices with a servant of the devil. A traveller should see
everything.” I had yet another motive for prosecuting her acquaintance.
When I left college--I acknowledge it with shame--I had wasted a certain
amount of time in studying occult science, and had even attempted, more
than once, to exorcise the powers of darkness. Though I had been cured,
long since, of my passion for such investigations, I still felt a
certain attraction and curiosity with regard to all superstitions, and I
was delighted to have this opportunity of discovering how far the magic
art had developed among the gipsies.

Talking as we went, we had reached the _neveria_, and seated ourselves
at a little table, lighted by a taper protected by a glass globe. I then
had time to take a leisurely view of my _gitana_, while several
worthy individuals, who were eating their ices, stared open-mouthed at
beholding me in such gay company.

I very much doubt whether Senorita Carmen was a pure-blooded gipsy. At
all events, she was infinitely prettier than any other woman of her race
I have ever seen. For a women to be beautiful, they say in Spain, she
must fulfil thirty _ifs_, or, if it please you better, you must be able
to define her appearance by ten adjectives, applicable to three portions
of her person.

For instance, three things about her must be black, her eyes, her
eyelashes, and her eyebrows. Three must be dainty, her fingers, her
lips, her hair, and so forth. For the rest of this inventory, see
Brantome. My gipsy girl could lay no claim to so many perfections. Her
skin, though perfectly smooth, was almost of a copper hue. Her eyes
were set obliquely in her head, but they were magnificent and large. Her
lips, a little full, but beautifully shaped, revealed a set of teeth as
white as newly skinned almonds. Her hair--a trifle coarse, perhaps--was
black, with blue lights on it like a raven’s wing, long and glossy. Not
to weary my readers with too prolix a description, I will merely add,
that to every blemish she united some advantage, which was perhaps all
the more evident by contrast. There was something strange and wild about
her beauty. Her face astonished you, at first sight, but nobody could
forget it. Her eyes, especially, had an expression of mingled sensuality
and fierceness which I had never seen in any other human glance.
“Gipsy’s eye, wolf’s eye!” is a Spanish saying which denotes close
observation. If my readers have no time to go to the “Jardin des
Plantes” to study the wolf’s expression, they will do well to watch the
ordinary cat when it is lying in wait for a sparrow.

It will be understood that I should have looked ridiculous if I had
proposed to have my fortune told in a _café_. I therefore begged the
pretty witch’s leave to go home with her. She made no difficulties
about consenting, but she wanted to know what o’clock it was again, and
requested me to make my repeater strike once more.

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

When we started off again, it was quite dark. Most of the shops were
shut, and the streets were almost empty. We crossed the bridge over the
Guadalquivir, and at the far end of the suburb we stopped in front of
a house of anything but palatial appearance. The door was opened by a
child, to whom the gipsy spoke a few words in a language unknown to me,
which I afterward understood to be _Romany_, or _chipe calli_--the gipsy
idiom. The child instantly disappeared, leaving us in sole possession of
a tolerably spacious room, furnished with a small table, two stools, and
a chest. I must not forget to mention a jar of water, a pile of oranges,
and a bunch of onions.

As soon as we were left alone, the gipsy produced, out of her chest,
a pack of cards, bearing signs of constant usage, a magnet, a dried
chameleon, and a few other indispensable adjuncts of her art. Then she
bade me cross my left hand with a silver coin, and the magic ceremonies
duly began. It is unnecessary to chronicle her predictions, and as for
the style of her performance, it proved her to be no mean sorceress.

Unluckily we were soon disturbed. The door was suddenly burst open,
and a man, shrouded to the eyes in a brown cloak, entered the room,
apostrophizing the gipsy in anything but gentle terms. What he said I
could not catch, but the tone of his voice revealed the fact that he was
in a very evil temper. The gipsy betrayed neither surprise nor anger
at his advent, but she ran to meet him, and with a most striking
volubility, she poured out several sentences in the mysterious language
she had already used in my presence. The word _payllo_, frequently
reiterated, was the only one I understood. I knew that the gipsies use
it to describe all men not of their own race. Concluding myself to be
the subject of this discourse, I was prepared for a somewhat delicate
explanation. I had already laid my hand on the leg of one of the stools,
and was studying within myself to discover the exact moment at which I
had better throw it at his head, when, roughly pushing the gipsy to one
side, the man advanced toward me. Then with a step backward he cried:

“What, sir! Is it you?”

I looked at him in my turn and recognised my friend Don Jose. At that
moment I did feel rather sorry I had saved him from the gallows.

“What, is it you, my good fellow?” I exclaimed, with as easy a smile as
I could muster. “You have interrupted this young lady just when she was
foretelling me most interesting things!”

“The same as ever. There shall be an end to it!” he hissed between his
teeth, with a savage glance at her.

Meanwhile the _gitana_ was still talking to him in her own tongue. She
became more and more excited. Her eyes grew fierce and bloodshot,
her features contracted, she stamped her foot. She seemed to me to be
earnestly pressing him to do something he was unwilling to do. What this
was I fancied I understood only too well, by the fashion in which she
kept drawing her little hand backward and forward under her chin. I was
inclined to think she wanted to have somebody’s throat cut, and I had a
fair suspicion the throat in question was my own. To all her torrent of
eloquence Don Jose’s only reply was two or three shortly spoken words.
At this the gipsy cast a glance of the most utter scorn at him, then,
seating herself Turkish-fashion in a corner of the room, she picked out
an orange, tore off the skin, and began to eat it.

Don Jose took hold of my arm, opened the door, and led me into the
street. We walked some two hundred paces in the deepest silence. Then he
stretched out his hand.

“Go straight on,” he said, “and you’ll come to the bridge.”

That instant he turned his back on me and departed at a great pace. I
took my way back to my inn, rather crestfallen, and considerably out
of temper. The worst of all was that, when I undressed, I discovered my
watch was missing.

Various considerations prevented me from going to claim it next day, or
requesting the _Corregidor_ to be good enough to have a search made
for it. I finished my work on the Dominican manuscript, and went on
to Seville. After several months spent wandering hither and thither in
Andalusia, I wanted to get back to Madrid, and with that object I had to
pass through Cordova. I had no intention of making any stay there, for
I had taken a dislike to that fair city, and to the ladies who bathed
in the Guadalquivir. Nevertheless, I had some visits to pay, and certain
errands to do, which must detain me several days in the old capital of
the Mussulman princes.

The moment I made my appearance in the Dominican convent, one of the
monks, who had always shown the most lively interest in my inquiries
as to the site of the battlefield of Munda, welcomed me with open arms,

“Praised be God! You are welcome! My dear friend. We all thought you
were dead, and I myself have said many a _pater_ and _ave_ (not that I
regret them!) for your soul. Then you weren’t murdered, after all? That
you were robbed, we know!”

“What do you mean?” I asked, rather astonished.

“Oh, you know! That splendid repeater you used to strike in the library
whenever we said it was time for us to go into church. Well, it has been
found, and you’ll get it back.”

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

“The rascal’s under lock and key, and as he was known to be a man who
would shoot any Christian for the sake of a _peseta_, we were
most dreadfully afraid he had killed you. I’ll go with you to the
_Corregidor_, and he’ll give you back your fine watch. And after that,
you won’t dare to say the law doesn’t do its work properly in Spain.”

“I assure you,” said I, “I’d far rather lose my watch than have to
give evidence in court to hang a poor unlucky devil, and especially

“Oh, you needn’t be alarmed! He’s thoroughly done for; they might hang
him twice over. But when I say hang, I say wrong. Your thief is an
_Hidalgo_. So he’s to be garrotted the day after to-morrow, without
fail.* So you see one theft more or less won’t affect his position.
Would to God he had done nothing but steal! But he has committed several
murders, one more hideous than the other.”

     * In 1830, the noble class still enjoyed this privilege.
     Nowadays, under the constitutional _regime_, commoners have
     attained the same dignity.

“What’s his name?”

“In this country he is only known as Jose Navarro, but he has another
Basque name, which neither your nor I will ever be able to pronounce.
By the way, the man is worth seeing, and you, who like to study the
peculiar features of each country, shouldn’t lose this chance of noting
how a rascal bids farewell to this world in Spain. He is in jail, and
Father Martinez will take you to him.”

So bent was my Dominican friend on my seeing the preparations for this
“neat little hanging job” that I was fain to agree. I went to see the
prisoner, having provided myself with a bundle of cigars, which I hoped
might induce him to forgive my intrusion.

I was ushered into Don Jose’s presence just as he was sitting at table.
He greeted me with a rather distant nod, and thanked me civilly for the
present I had brought him. Having counted the cigars in the bundle I
had placed in his hand, he took out a certain number and returned me the
rest, remarking that he would not need any more of them.

I inquired whether by laying out a little money, or by applying to
my friends, I might not be able to do something to soften his lot. He
shrugged his shoulders, to begin with, smiling sadly. Soon, as by an
after-thought, he asked me to have a mass said for the repose of his

Then he added nervously: “Would you--would you have another said for a
person who did you a wrong?”

“Assuredly I will, my dear fellow,” I answered. “But no one in this
country has wronged me so far as I know.”

He took my hand and squeezed it, looking very grave. After a moment’s
silence, he spoke again.

“Might I dare to ask another service of you? When you go back to your
own country perhaps you will pass through Navarre. At all events you’ll
go by Vittoria, which isn’t very far off.”

“Yes,” said I, “I shall certainly pass through Vittoria. But I may very
possibly go round by Pampeluna, and for your sake, I believe I should be
very glad to do it.”

“Well, if you do go to Pampeluna, you’ll see more than one thing that
will interest you. It’s a fine town. I’ll give you this medal,” he
showed me a little silver medal that he wore hung around his neck.
“You’ll wrap it up in paper”--he paused a moment to master his
emotion--“and you’ll take it, or send it, to an old lady whose address
I’ll give you. Tell her I am dead--but don’t tell her how I died.”

I promised to perform his commission. I saw him the next day, and spent
part of it in his company. From his lips I learned the sad incidents
that follow.


“I was born,” he said, “at Elizondo, in the valley of Baztan. My name is
Don Jose Lizzarrabengoa, and you know enough of Spain, sir, to know at
once, by my name, that I come of an old Christian and Basque stock. I
call myself Don, because I have a right to it, and if I were at Elizondo
I could show you my parchment genealogy. My family wanted me to go into
the church, and made me study for it, but I did not like work. I was too
fond of playing tennis, and that was my ruin. When we Navarrese begin
to play tennis, we forget everything else. One day, when I had won the
game, a young fellow from Alava picked a quarrel with me. We took to our
_maquilas_,* and I won again. But I had to leave the neighbourhood.
I fell in with some dragoons, and enlisted in the Almanza Cavalry
Regiment. Mountain folks like us soon learn to be soldiers. Before long
I was a corporal, and I had been told I should soon be made a sergeant,
when, to my misfortune, I was put on guard at the Seville Tobacco
Factory. If you have been to Seville you have seen the great building,
just outside the ramparts, close to the Guadalquivir; I can fancy I see
the entrance, and the guard room just beside it, even now. When Spanish
soldiers are on duty, they either play cards or go to sleep. I, like an
honest Navarrese, always tried to keep myself busy. I was making a chain
to hold my priming-pin, out of a bit of wire: all at once, my comrades
said, ‘there’s the bell ringing, the girls are coming back to work.’ You
must know, sir, that there are quite four or five hundred women employed
in the factory. They roll the cigars in a great room into which no man
can go without a permit from the _Veintiquatro_,** because when the
weather is hot they make themselves at home, especially the young ones.
When the work-girls come back after their dinner, numbers of young men
go down to see them pass by, and talk all sorts of nonsense to them.
Very few of those young ladies will refuse a silk mantilla, and men who
care for that sort of sport have nothing to do but bend down and pick
their fish up. While the others watched the girls go by, I stayed on my
bench near the door. I was a young fellow then--my heart was still in
my own country, and I didn’t believe in any pretty girls who hadn’t
blue skirts and long plaits of hair falling on their shoulders.*** And
besides, I was rather afraid of the Andalusian women. I had not got used
to their ways yet; they were always jeering one--never spoke a single
word of sense. So I was sitting with my nose down upon my chain, when I
heard some bystanders say, ‘Here comes the _gitanella_!’ Then I lifted
up my eyes, and I saw her! It was that very Carmen you know, and in
whose rooms I met you a few months ago.

     * Iron-shod sticks used by the Basques.

     ** Magistrate in charge of the municipal police
     arrangements, and local government regulations.

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

“She was wearing a very short skirt, below which her white silk
stockings--with more than one hole in them--and her dainty red morocco
shoes, fastened with flame-coloured ribbons, were clearly seen. She had
thrown her mantilla back, to show her shoulders, and a great bunch of
acacia that was thrust into her chemise. She had another acacia blossom
in the corner of her mouth, and she walked along, swaying her hips, like
a filly from the Cordova stud farm. In my country anybody who had seen
a woman dressed in that fashion would have crossed himself. At Seville
every man paid her some bold compliment on her appearance. She had
an answer for each and all, with her hand on her hip, as bold as the
thorough gipsy she was. At first I didn’t like her looks, and I fell to
my work again. But she, like all women and cats, who won’t come if you
call them, and do come if you don’t call them, stopped short in front of
me, and spoke to me.

“‘_Compadre_,’ said she, in the Andalusian fashion, ‘won’t you give me
your chain for the keys of my strong box?’

“‘It’s for my priming-pin,’ said I.

“‘Your priming-pin!’ she cried, with a laugh. ‘Oho! I suppose the
gentleman makes lace, as he wants pins!’

“Everybody began to laugh, and I felt myself getting red in the face,
and couldn’t hit on anything in answer.

“‘Come, my love!’ she began again, ‘make me seven ells of lace for my
mantilla, my pet pin-maker!’

“And taking the acacia blossom out of her mouth she flipped it at me
with her thumb so that it hit me just between the eyes. I tell you, sir,
I felt as if a bullet had struck me. I didn’t know which way to look.
I sat stock-still, like a wooden board. When she had gone into the
factory, I saw the acacia blossom, which had fallen on the ground
between my feet. I don’t know what made me do it, but I picked it up,
unseen by any of my comrades, and put it carefully inside my jacket.
That was my first folly.

“Two or three hours later I was still thinking about her, when a
panting, terrified-looking porter rushed into the guard-room. He told
us a woman had been stabbed in the great cigar-room, and that the guard
must be sent in at once. The sergeant told me to take two men, and go
and see to it. I took my two men and went upstairs. Imagine, sir, that
when I got into the room, I found, to begin with, some three hundred
women, stripped to their shifts, or very near it, all of them screaming
and yelling and gesticulating, and making such a row that you couldn’t
have heard God’s own thunder. On one side of the room one of the women
was lying on the broad of her back, streaming with blood, with an X
newly cut on her face by two strokes of a knife. Opposite the wounded
woman, whom the best-natured of the band were attending, I saw Carmen,
held by five or six of her comrades. The wounded woman was crying out,
‘A confessor, a confessor! I’m killed!’ Carmen said nothing at all. She
clinched her teeth and rolled her eyes like a chameleon. ‘What’s this?’
I asked. I had hard work to find out what had happened, for all the
work-girls talked at once. It appeared that the injured girl had boasted
she had money enough in her pocket to buy a donkey at the Triana Market.
‘Why,’ said Carmen, who had a tongue of her own, ‘can’t you do with a
broom?’ Stung by this taunt, it may be because she felt herself rather
unsound in that particular, the other girl replied that she knew nothing
about brooms, seeing she had not the honour of being either a gipsy
or one of the devil’s godchildren, but that the Senorita Carmen would
shortly make acquaintance with her donkey, when the _Corregidor_ took
her out riding with two lackeys behind her to keep the flies off.
‘Well,’ retorted Carmen, ‘I’ll make troughs for the flies to drink
out of on your cheeks, and I’ll paint a draught-board on them!’ * And
thereupon, slap, bank! She began making St. Andrew’s crosses on the
girl’s face with a knife she had been using for cutting off the ends of
the cigars.

     * _Pintar un javeque_, “paint a xebec,” a particular type of
     ship. Most Spanish vessels of this description have a
     checkered red and white stripe painted around them.

“The case was quite clear. I took hold of Carmen’s arm. ‘Sister mine,’ I
said civilly, ‘you must come with me.’ She shot a glance of recognition
at me, but she said, with a resigned look: ‘Let’s be off. Where is my
mantilla?’ She put it over her head so that only one of her great eyes
was to be seen, and followed my two men, as quiet as a lamb. When we
got to the guardroom the sergeant said it was a serious job, and he must
send her to prison. I was told off again to take her there. I put her
between two dragoons, as a corporal does on such occasions. We started
off for the town. The gipsy had begun by holding her tongue. But when we
got to the _Calle de la Serpiente_--you know it, and that it earns its
name by its many windings--she began by dropping her mantilla on to her
shoulders, so as to show me her coaxing little face, and turning round
to me as well as she could, she said:

“‘_Oficial mio_, where are you taking me to?’

“‘To prison, my poor child,’ I replied, as gently as I could, just as
any kind-hearted soldier is bound to speak to a prisoner, and especially
to a woman.

“‘Alack! What will become of me! Senor Oficial, have pity on me! You are
so young, so good-looking.’ Then, in a lower tone, she said, ‘Let me get
away, and I’ll give you a bit of the _bar lachi_, that will make every
woman fall in love with you!’

“The _bar lachi_, sir, is the loadstone, with which the gipsies declare
one who knows how to use it can cast any number of spells. If you can
make a woman drink a little scrap of it, powdered, in a glass of white
wine, she’ll never be able to resist you. I answered, as gravely as I

“‘We are not here to talk nonsense. You’ll have to go to prison. Those
are my orders, and there’s no help for it!’

“We men from the Basque country have an accent which all Spaniards
easily recognise; on the other hand, not one of them can ever learn to
say _Bai, jaona_!*

     * Yes, sir.

“So Carmen easily guessed I was from the Provinces. You know, sir, that
the gipsies, who belong to no particular country, and are always moving
about, speak every language, and most of them are quite at home in
Portugal, in France, in our Provinces, in Catalonia, or anywhere else.
They can even make themselves understood by Moors and English people.
Carmen knew Basque tolerably well.

“‘_Laguna ene bihotsarena_, comrade of my heart,’ said she suddenly. ‘Do
you belong to our country?’

“Our language is so beautiful, sir, that when we hear it in a foreign
country it makes us quiver. I wish,” added the bandit in a lower tone,
“I could have a confessor from my own country.”

After a silence, he began again.

“‘I belong to Elizondo,’ I answered in Basque, very much affected by the
sound of my own language.

“‘I come from Etchalar,’ said she (that’s a district about four hours’
journey from my home). ‘I was carried off to Seville by the gipsies.
I was working in the factory to earn enough money to take me back to
Navarre, to my poor old mother, who has no support in the world but me,
besides her little _barratcea_* with twenty cider-apple trees in it.
Ah! if I were only back in my own country, looking up at the white
mountains! I have been insulted here, because I don’t belong to this
land of rogues and sellers of rotten oranges; and those hussies are
all banded together against me, because I told them that not all their
Seville _jacques_,** and all their knives, would frighten an honest lad
from our country, with his blue cap and his _maquila_! Good comrade,
won’t you do anything to help your own countrywoman?’

     * Field, garden.

     ** Bravos, boasters.

“She was lying then, sir, as she has always lied. I don’t know that that
girl ever spoke a word of truth in her life, but when she did speak, I
believed her--I couldn’t help myself. She mangled her Basque words, and
I believed she came from Navarre. But her eyes and her mouth and her
skin were enough to prove she was a gipsy. I was mad, I paid no more
attention to anything, I thought to myself that if the Spaniards had
dared to speak evil of my country, I would have slashed their faces just
as she had slashed her comrade’s. In short, I was like a drunken man, I
was beginning to say foolish things, and I was very near doing them.

“‘If I were to give you a push and you tumbled down, good
fellow-countryman,’ she began again in Basque, ‘those two Castilian
recruits wouldn’t be able to keep me back.’

“Faith, I forgot my orders, I forgot everything, and I said to her,
‘Well, then, my friend, girl of my country, try it, and may our Lady of
the Mountain help you through.’

“Just at that moment we were passing one of the many narrow lanes one
sees in Seville. All at once Carmen turned and struck me in the chest
with her fist. I tumbled backward, purposely. With a bound she sprang
over me, and ran off, showing us a pair of legs! People talk about a
pair of Basque legs! but hers were far better--as fleet as they were
well-turned. As for me, I picked myself up at once, but I stuck out my
lance* crossways and barred the street, so that my comrades were checked
at the very first moment of pursuit. Then I started to run myself, and
they after me--but how were we to catch her? There was no fear of that,
what with our spurs, our swords, and our lances.

     * All Spanish cavalry soldiers carry lances.

“In less time than I have taken to tell you the story the prisoner
had disappeared. And besides, every gossip in the quarter covered her
flight, poked scorn at us, and pointed us in the wrong direction. After
a good deal of marching and countermarching, we had to go back to the
guard-room without a receipt from the governor of the jail.

“To avoid punishment, my men made known that Carmen had spoken to me in
Basque; and to tell the truth, it did not seem very natural that a blow
from such a little creature should have so easily overthrown a strong
fellow like me. The whole thing looked suspicious, or, at all events,
not over-clear. When I came off guard I lost my corporal’s stripes, and
was condemned to a month’s imprisonment. It was the first time I had
been punished since I had been in the service. Farewell, now, to the
sergeant’s stripes, on which I had reckoned so surely!

“The first days in prison were very dreary. When I enlisted I had
fancied I was sure to become an officer, at all events. Two of
my compatriots, Longa and Mina, are captains-general, after all.
Chapalangarra was a colonel, and I have played tennis a score of times
with his brother, who was just a needy fellow like myself. ‘Now,’ I kept
crying to myself, ‘all the time you served without being punished
has been lost. Now you have a bad mark against your name, and to get
yourself back into the officers’ good graces you’ll have to work ten
times as hard as when you joined as a recruit.’ And why have I got
myself punished? For the sake of a gipsy hussy, who made game of me, and
who at this moment is busy thieving in some corner of the town. Yet I
couldn’t help thinking about her. Will you believe it, sir, those silk
stockings of hers with the holes in them, of which she had given me such
a full view as she took to her heels, were always before my eyes? I
used to look through the barred windows of the jail into the street,
and among all the women who passed I never could see one to compare with
that minx of a girl--and then, in spite of myself, I used to smell the
acacia blossom she had thrown at me, and which, dry as it was, still
kept its sweet scent. If there are such things as witches, that girl
certainly was one.

“One day the jailer came in, and gave me an Alcala roll.*

     * _Alcala de los Panaderos_, a village two leagues from
     Seville, where the most delicious rolls are made. They are
     said to owe their quality to the water of the place, and
     great quantities of them are brought to Seville every day.

“‘Look here,’ said he, ‘this is what your cousin has sent you.’

“I took the loaf, very much astonished, for I had no cousin in Seville.
It may be a mistake, thought I, as I looked at the roll, but it was so
appetizing and smelt so good, that I made up my mind to eat it, without
troubling my head as to whence it came, or for whom it was really

“When I tried to cut it, my knife struck on something hard. I looked,
and found a little English file, which had been slipped into the dough
before the roll had been baked. The roll also contained a gold piece of
two piastres. Then I had no further doubt--it was a present from Carmen.
To people of her blood, liberty is everything, and they would set a
town on fire to save themselves one day in prison. The girl was artful,
indeed, and armed with that roll, I might have snapped my fingers at the
jailers. In one hour, with that little file, I could have sawn through
the thickest bar, and with the gold coin I could have exchanged my
soldier’s cloak for civilian garb at the nearest shop. You may fancy
that a man who has often taken the eaglets out of their nests in our
cliff would have found no difficulty in getting down to the street
out of a window less than thirty feet above it. But I didn’t choose to
escape. I still had a soldier’s code of honour, and desertion appeared
to me in the light of a heinous crime. Yet this proof of remembrance
touched me. When a man is in prison he likes to think he has a friend
outside who takes an interest in him. The gold coin did rather offend
me; I should have very much liked to return it; but where was I to find
my creditor? That did not seem a very easy task.

“After the ceremony of my degradation I had fancied my sufferings were
over, but I had another humiliation before me. That came when I left
prison, and was told off for duty, and put on sentry, as a private
soldier. You can not conceive what a proud man endures at such a moment.
I believe I would have just as soon been shot dead--then I should have
marched alone at the head of my platoon, at all events; I should have
felt I was somebody, with the eyes of others fixed upon me.

“I was posted as sentry on the door of the colonel’s house. The colonel
was a young man, rich, good-natured, fond of amusing himself. All
the young officers were there, and many civilians as well, besides
ladies--actresses, as it was said. For my part, it seemed to me as if
the whole town had agreed to meet at that door, in order to stare at me.
Then up drove the colonel’s carriage, with his valet on the box. And who
should I see get out of it, but the gipsy girl! She was dressed up, this
time, to the eyes, togged out in golden ribbons--a spangled gown, blue
shoes, all spangled too, flowers and gold lace all over her. In her hand
she carried a tambourine. With her there were two other gipsy women, one
young and one old. They always have one old woman who goes with them,
and then an old man with a guitar, a gipsy too, to play alone, and also
for their dances. You must know these gipsy girls are often sent for to
private houses, to dance their special dance, the _Romalis_, and often,
too, for quite other purposes.

“Carmen recognised me, and we exchanged glances. I don’t know why, but
at that moment I should have liked to have been a hundred feet beneath
the ground.

“‘_Agur laguna_,’ * said she. ‘Oficial mio! You keep guard like a
recruit,’ and before I could find a word in answer, she was inside the

     * Good-day, comrade!

“The whole party was assembled in the _patio_, and in spite of the crowd
I could see nearly everything that went on through the lattice.* I
could hear the castanets and the tambourine, the laughter and applause.
Sometimes I caught a glimpse of her head as she bounded upward with her
tambourine. Then I could hear the officers saying many things to her
which brought the blood to my face. As to her answers, I knew nothing
of them. It was on that day, I think, that I began to love her in
earnest--for three or four times I was tempted to rush into the _patio_,
and drive my sword into the bodies of all the coxcombs who were making
love to her. My torture lasted a full hour; then the gipsies came out,
and the carriage took them away. As she passed me by, Carmen looked at
me with those eyes you know, and said to me very low, ‘Comrade, people
who are fond of good _fritata_ come to eat it at Lillas Pastia’s at

     * In most of the houses in Seville there is an inner court
     surrounded by an arched portico. This is used as a sitting-
     room in summer. Over the court is stretched a piece of tent
     cloth, which is watered during the day and removed at night.
     The street door is almost always left open, and the passage
     leading to the court (_zaguan_) is closed by an iron lattice
     of very elegant workmanship.

“Then, light as a kid, she stepped into the carriage, the coachman
whipped up his mules, and the whole merry party departed, whither I know

“You may fancy that the moment I was off guard I went to Triana; but
first of all I got myself shaved and brushed myself up as if I had been
going on parade. She was living with Lillas Pastia, an old fried-fish
seller, a gipsy, as black as a Moor, to whose house a great many
civilians resorted to eat _fritata_, especially, I think, because Carmen
had taken up her quarters there.

“‘Lillas,’ she said, as soon as she saw me. ‘I’m not going to work any
more to-day. To-morrow will be a day, too.* Come, fellow-countryman, let
us go for a walk!’

     * _Manana sera otro dia._--A Spanish proverb.

“She pulled her mantilla across her nose, and there we were in the
street, without my knowing in the least whither I was bound.

“‘Senorita,’ said I, ‘I think I have to thank you for a present I
had while I was in prison. I’ve eaten the bread; the file will do for
sharpening my lance, and I keep it in remembrance of you. But as for the
money, here it is.’

“‘Why, he’s kept the money!’ she exclaimed, bursting out laughing.
‘But, after all, that’s all the better--for I’m decidedly hard up! What
matter! The dog that runs never starves!* Come, let’s spend it all! You
shall treat.’

     * _Chuquel sos pirela, cocal terela_. “The dog that runs
     finds a bone.”--Gipsy proverb.

“We had turned back toward Seville. At the entrance of the _Calle de
la Serpiente_ she bought a dozen oranges, which she made me put into my
handkerchief. A little farther on she bought a roll, a sausage, and
a bottle of manzanilla. Then, last of all, she turned into a
confectioner’s shop. There she threw the gold coin I had returned to
her on the counter, with another she had in her pocket, and some small
silver, and then she asked me for all the money I had. All I possessed
was one peseta and a few cuartos, which I handed over to her, very much
ashamed of not having more. I thought she would have carried away the
whole shop. She took everything that was best and dearest, _yemas_,*
_turon_,** preserved fruits--as long as the money lasted. And all these,
too, I had to carry in paper bags. Perhaps you know the _Calle del
Candilejo_, where there is a head of Don Pedro the Avenger.*** That head
ought to have given me pause. We stopped at an old house in that street.
She passed into the entry, and knocked at a door on the ground floor.
It was opened by a gipsy, a thorough-paced servant of the devil. Carmen
said a few words to her in Romany. At first the old hag grumbled. To
smooth her down Carmen gave her a couple of oranges and a handful of
sugar-plums, and let her have a taste of wine. Then she hung her cloak
on her back, and led her to the door, which she fastened with a wooden
bar. As soon as we were alone she began to laugh and caper like a
lunatic, singing out, ‘You are my _rom_, I’m your _romi_.’****

     * Sugared yolks of eggs.

     ** A sort of nougat.

     *** This king, Don Pedro, whom we call “the Cruel,” and whom
     Queen Isabella, the Catholic, never called anything but “the
     Avenger,” was fond of walking about the streets of Seville
     at night in search of adventures, like the Caliph Haroun al
     Raschid. One night, in a lonely street, he quarrelled with a
     man who was singing a serenade. There was a fight, and the
     king killed the amorous _caballero_. At the clashing of
     their swords, an old woman put her head out of the window
     and lighted up the scene with a tiny lamp (candilejo) which
     she held in her hand. My readers must be informed that King
     Don Pedro, though nimble and muscular, suffered from one
     strange fault in his physical conformation. Whenever he
     walked his knees cracked loudly. By this cracking the old
     woman easily recognised him. The next day the _veintiquatro_
     in charge came to make his report to the king. “Sir, a duel
     was fought last night in such a street--one of the
     combatants is dead.” “Have you found the murderer?” “Yes,
     sir.” “Why has he not been punished already?” “Sir, I await
     your orders!” “Carry out the law.” Now the king had just
     published a decree that every duellist was to have his head
     cut off, and that head was to be set up on the scene of the
     fight. The _veintiquatro_ got out of the difficulty like a
     clever man. He had the head sawed off a statue of the king,
     and set that up in a niche in the middle of the street in
     which the murder had taken place. The king and all the
     Sevillians thought this a very good joke. The street took
     its name from the lamp held by the old woman, the only
     witness of the incident. The above is the popular tradition.
     Zuniga tells the story somewhat differently. However that
     may be, a street called _Calle del Candilejo_ still exists
     in Seville, and in that street there is a bust which is said
     to be a portrait of Don Pedro. This bust, unfortunately, is
     a modern production. During the seventeenth century the old
     one had become very much defaced, and the municipality had
     it replaced by that now to be seen.

     **** _Rom_, husband. _Romi_, wife.

“There I stood in the middle of the room, laden with all her purchases,
and not knowing where I was to put them down. She tumbled them all onto
the floor, and threw her arms round my neck, saying:

“‘I pay my debts, I pay my debts! That’s the law of the _Cales_.’*

     * _Calo_, feminine _calli_, plural _cales_. Literally
     “black,” the name the gipsies apply to themselves in their
     own language.

“Ah, sir, that day! that day! When I think of it I forget what to-morrow
must bring me!”

For a moment the bandit held his peace, then, when he had relighted his
cigar, he began afresh.

“We spent the whole day together, eating, drinking, and so forth. When
she had stuffed herself with sugar-plums, like any child of six years
old, she thrust them by handfuls into the old woman’s water-jar.
‘That’ll make sherbet for her,’ she said. She smashed the _yemas_ by
throwing them against the walls. ‘They’ll keep the flies from bothering
us.’ There was no prank or wild frolic she didn’t indulge in. I told her
I should have liked to see her dance, only there were no castanets to
be had. Instantly she seized the old woman’s only earthenware plate,
smashed it up, and there she was dancing the _Romalis_, and making the
bits of broken crockery rattle as well as if they had been ebony and
ivory castanets. That girl was good company, I can tell you! Evening
fell, and I heard the drums beating tattoo.

“‘I must get back to quarters for roll-call,’ I said.

“‘To quarters!’ she answered, with a look of scorn. ‘Are you a negro
slave, to let yourself be driven with a ramrod like that! You are as
silly as a canary bird. Your dress suits your nature.* Pshaw! you’ve no
more heart than a chicken.’

* Spanish dragoons wear a yellow uniform.

“I stayed on, making up my mind to the inevitable guard-room. The next
morning the first suggestion of parting came from her.

“‘Hark ye, Joseito,’ she said. ‘Have I paid you? By our law, I owed you
nothing, because you’re a _payllo_. But you’re a good-looking fellow,
and I took a fancy to you. Now we’re quits. Good-day!’

“I asked her when I should see her again.

“‘When you’re less of a simpleton,’ she retorted, with a laugh. Then, in
a more serious tone, ‘Do you know, my son, I really believe I love you a
little; but that can’t last! The dog and the wolf can’t agree for long.
Perhaps if you turned gipsy, I might care to be your _romi_. But that’s
all nonsense, such things aren’t possible. Pshaw! my boy. Believe me,
you’re well out of it. You’ve come across the devil--he isn’t always
black--and you’ve not had your neck wrung. I wear a woollen suit, but
I’m no sheep.* Go and burn a candle to your _majari_,** she deserves
it well. Come, good-by once more. Don’t think any more about _La
Carmencita_, or she’ll end by making you marry a widow with wooden

     * _Me dicas vriarda de jorpoy, bus ne sino braco_.--A gipsy

     ** The Saint, the Holy Virgin.

     *** The gallows, which is the widow of the last man hanged
     upon it.

“As she spoke, she drew back the bar that closed the door, and once we
were out in the street she wrapped her mantilla about her, and turned on
her heel.

“She spoke the truth. I should have done far better never to think of
her again. But after that day in the _Calle del Candilejo_ I couldn’t
think of anything else. All day long I used to walk about, hoping I
might meet her. I sought news of her from the old hag, and from the
fried-fish seller. They both told me she had gone away to _Laloro_,
which is their name for Portugal. They probably said it by Carmen’s
orders, but I soon found out they were lying. Some weeks after my day
in the _Calle del Candilejo_ I was on duty at one of the town gates. A
little way from the gate there was a breach in the wall. The masons were
working at it in the daytime, and at night a sentinel was posted on it,
to prevent smugglers from getting in. All through one day I saw Lillas
Pastia going backward and forward near the guard-room, and talking to
some of my comrades. They all knew him well, and his fried-fish and
fritters even better. He came up to me, and asked if I had any news of

“‘No,’ said I.

“‘Well,’ said he, ‘you’ll soon hear of her, old fellow.’

“He was not mistaken. That night I was posted to guard the breach in
the wall. As soon as the sergeant had disappeared I saw a woman coming
toward me. My heart told me it was Carmen. Still I shouted:

“‘Keep off! Nobody can pass here!’

“‘Now, don’t be spiteful,’ she said, making herself known to me.

“‘What! you here, Carmen?’

“‘Yes, _mi payllo_. Let us say few words, but wise ones. Would you
like to earn a douro? Some people will be coming with bundles. Let them

“‘No,’ said I, ‘I must not allow them through. These are my orders.’

“‘Orders! orders! You didn’t think about orders in the _Calle del

“‘Ah!’ I cried, quite maddened by the very thought of that night. ‘It
was well worth while to forget my orders for that! But I won’t have any
smuggler’s money!’

“‘Well, if you won’t have money, shall we go and dine together at old

“‘No,’ said I, half choked by the effort it cost me. ‘No, I can’t.’

“‘Very good! If you make so many difficulties, I know to whom I can
go. I’ll ask your officer if he’ll come with me to Dorotea’s. He looks
good-natured, and he’ll post a sentry who’ll only see what he had better
see. Good-bye, canary-bird! I shall have a good laugh the day the order
comes out to hang you!’

“I was weak enough to call her back, and I promised to let the whole
of gipsydom pass in, if that were necessary, so that I secured the
only reward I longed for. She instantly swore she would keep her word
faithfully the very next day, and ran off to summon her friends, who
were close by. There were five of them, of whom Pastia was one, all well
loaded with English goods. Carmen kept watch for them. She was to warn
them with her castanets the instant she caught sight of the patrol. But
there was no necessity for that. The smugglers finished their job in a

“The next day I went to the _Calle del Candilejo_. Carmen kept me
waiting, and when she came, she was in rather a bad temper.

“‘I don’t like people who have to be pressed,’ she said. ‘You did me a
much greater service the first time, without knowing you’d gain anything
by it. Yesterday you bargained with me. I don’t know why I’ve come, for
I don’t care for you any more. Here, be off with you. Here’s a douro for
your trouble.’

“I very nearly threw the coin at her head, and I had to make a violent
effort to prevent myself from actually beating her. After we had
wrangled for an hour I went off in a fury. For some time I wandered
about the town, walking hither and thither like a madman. At last I went
into a church, and getting into the darkest corner I could find, I cried
hot tears. All at once I heard a voice.

“‘A dragoon in tears. I’ll make a philter of them!’

“I looked up. There was Carmen in front of me.

“‘Well, _mi payllo_, are you still angry with me?’ she said. ‘I must
care for you in spite of myself, for since you left me I don’t know what
has been the matter with me. Look you, it is I who ask you to come to
the _Calle del Candilejo_, now!’

“So we made it up: but Carmen’s temper was like the weather in our
country. The storm is never so close, in our mountains, as when the sun
is at its brightest. She had promised to meet me again at Dorotea’s, but
she didn’t come.

“And Dorotea began telling me again that she had gone off to Portugal
about some gipsy business.

“As experience had already taught me how much of that I was to believe,
I went about looking for Carmen wherever I thought she might be, and
twenty times in every day I walked through the _Calle del Candilejo_.
One evening I was with Dorotea, whom I had almost tamed by giving her
a glass of anisette now and then, when Carmen walked in, followed by a
young man, a lieutenant in our regiment.

“‘Get away at once,’ she said to me in Basque. I stood there,
dumfounded, my heart full of rage.

“‘What are you doing here?’ said the lieutenant to me. ‘Take yourself
off--get out of this.’

“I couldn’t move a step. I felt paralyzed. The officer grew angry, and
seeing I did not go out, and had not even taken off my forage cap, he
caught me by the collar and shook me roughly. I don’t know what I said
to him. He drew his sword, and I unsheathed mine. The old woman caught
hold of my arm, and the lieutenant gave me a wound on the forehead, of
which I still bear the scar. I made a step backward, and with one jerk
of my elbow I threw old Dorotea down. Then, as the lieutenant still
pressed me, I turned the point of my sword against his body and he
ran upon it. Then Carmen put out the lamp and told Dorotea, in her own
language, to take to flight. I fled into the street myself, and began
running along, I knew not whither. It seemed to me that some one was
following me. When I came to myself I discovered that Carmen had never
left me.

“‘Great stupid of a canary-bird!’ she said, ‘you never make anything but
blunders. And, indeed, you know I told you I should bring you bad luck.
But come, there’s a cure for everything when you have a Fleming from
Rome* for your love. Begin by rolling this handkerchief round your head,
and throw me over that belt of yours. Wait for me in this alley--I’ll be
back in two minutes.

     * _Flamenco de Roma_, a slang term for the gipsies. Roma
     does not stand for the Eternal City, but for the nation of
     the _romi_, or the married folk--a name applied by the
     gipsies to themselves. The first gipsies seen in Spain
     probably came from the Low Countries, hence their name of

“She disappeared, and soon came back bringing me a striped cloak which
she had gone to fetch, I knew not whence. She made me take off my
uniform, and put on the cloak over my shirt. Thus dressed, and with the
wound on my head bound round with the handkerchief, I was tolerably like
a Valencian peasant, many of whom come to Seville to sell a drink they
make out of ‘_chufas_.’* Then she took me to a house very much like
Dorotea’s, at the bottom of a little lane. Here she and another gipsy
woman washed and dressed my wounds, better than any army surgeon could
have done, gave me something, I know not what, to drink, and finally
made me lie down on a mattress, on which I went to sleep.

     * A bulbous root, out of which rather a pleasant beverage is

“Probably the woman had mixed one of the soporific drugs of which they
know the secret in my drink, for I did not wake up till very late the
next day. I was rather feverish, and had a violent headache. It was some
time before the memory of the terrible scene in which I had taken part
on the previous night came back to me. After having dressed my wound,
Carmen and her friend, squatting on their heels beside my mattress,
exchanged a few words of ‘_chipe calli_,’ which appeared to me to be
something in the nature of a medical consultation. Then they both of
them assured me that I should soon be cured, but that I must get out
of Seville at the earliest possible moment, for that, if I was caught
there, I should most undoubtedly be shot.

“‘My boy,’ said Carmen to me, ‘you’ll have to do something. Now that
the king won’t give you either rice or haddock* you’ll have to think of
earning your livelihood. You’re too stupid for stealing _a pastesas_.**
But you are brave and active. If you have the pluck, take yourself off
to the coast and turn smuggler. Haven’t I promised to get you hanged?
That’s better than being shot, and besides, if you set about it
properly, you’ll live like a prince as long as the _minons_*** and the
coast-guard don’t lay their hands on your collar.’

     * The ordinary food of a Spanish soldier.

     ** _Ustilar a pastesas_, to steal cleverly, to purloin
     without violence.

     *** A sort of volunteer corps.

“In this attractive guise did this fiend of a girl describe the new
career she was suggesting to me,--the only one, indeed, remaining, now
I had incurred the penalty of death. Shall I confess it, sir? She
persuaded me without much difficulty. This wild and dangerous life, it
seemed to me, would bind her and me more closely together. In future, I
thought, I should be able to make sure of her love.

“I had often heard talk of certain smugglers who travelled about
Andalusia, each riding a good horse, with his mistress behind him and
his blunderbuss in his fist. Already I saw myself trotting up and down
the world, with a pretty gipsy behind me. When I mentioned that notion
to her, she laughed till she had to hold her sides, and vowed there was
nothing in the world so delightful as a night spent camping in the open
air, when each _rom_ retired with his _romi_ beneath their little tent,
made of three hoops with a blanket thrown across them.

“‘If I take to the mountains,’ said I to her, ‘I shall be sure of you.
There’ll be no lieutenant there to go shares with me.’

“‘Ha! ha! you’re jealous!’ she retorted, ‘so much the worse for you. How
can you be such a fool as that? Don’t you see I must love you, because I
have never asked you for money?’

“When she said that sort to thing I could have strangled her.

“To shorten the story, sir, Carmen procured me civilian clothes,
disguised in which I got out of Seville without being recognised. I went
to Jerez, with a letter from Pastia to a dealer in anisette whose house
was the smugglers’ meeting-place. I was introduced to them, and their
leader, surnamed _El Dancaire_, enrolled me in his gang. We started for
Gaucin, where I found Carmen, who had told me she would meet me there.
In all these expeditions she acted as spy for our gang, and she was the
best that ever was seen. She had now just returned from Gibraltar, and
had already arranged with the captain of a ship for a cargo of English
goods which we were to receive on the coast. We went to meet it near
Estepona. We hid part in the mountains, and laden with the rest, we
proceeded to Ronda. Carmen had gone there before us. It was she again
who warned us when we had better enter the town. This first journey, and
several subsequent ones, turned out well. I found the smuggler’s life
pleasanter than a soldier’s: I could give presents to Carmen, I had
money, and I had a mistress. I felt little or no remorse, for, as the
gipsies say, ‘The happy man never longs to scratch his itch.’ We were
made welcome everywhere, my comrades treated me well, and even showed me
a certain respect. The reason of this was that I had killed my man,
and that some of them had no exploit of that description on their
conscience. But what I valued most in my new life was that I often saw
Carmen. She showed me more affection than ever; nevertheless, she would
never admit, before my comrades, that she was my mistress, and she had
even made me swear all sorts of oaths that I would not say anything
about her to them. I was so weak in that creature’s hands, that I obeyed
all her whims. And besides, this was the first time she had revealed
herself as possessing any of the reserve of a well-conducted woman,
and I was simple enough to believe she had really cast off her former

“Our gang, which consisted of eight or ten men, was hardly ever together
except at decisive moments, and we were usually scattered by twos and
threes about the towns and villages. Each one of us pretended to have
some trade. One was a tinker, another was a groom; I was supposed to
peddle haberdashery, but I hardly ever showed myself in large places, on
account of my unlucky business at Seville. One day, or rather one night,
we were to meet below Veger. _El Dancaire_ and I got there before the

“‘We shall soon have a new comrade,’ said he. ‘Carmen has just managed
one of her best tricks. She has contrived the escape of her _rom_, who
was in the _presidio_ at Tarifa.’

“I was already beginning to understand the gipsy language, which nearly
all my comrades spoke, and this word _rom_ startled me.

“What! her husband? Is she married, then?’ said I to the captain.

“‘Yes!’ he replied, ‘married to Garcia _el Tuerto_*--as cunning a gipsy
as she is herself. The poor fellow has been at the galleys. Carmen has
wheedled the surgeon of the _presidio_ to such good purpose that she
has managed to get her _rom_ out of prison. Faith! that girl’s worth
her weight in gold. For two years she has been trying to contrive his
escape, but she could do nothing until the authorities took it into
their heads to change the surgeon. She soon managed to come to an
understanding with this new one.’

     * One-eyed man.

“You may imagine how pleasant this news was for me. I soon saw Garcia
_el Tuerto_. He was the very ugliest brute that was ever nursed
in gipsydom. His skin was black, his soul was blacker, and he was
altogether the most thorough-paced ruffian I ever came across in my
life. Carmen arrived with him, and when she called him her _rom_ in my
presence, you should have seen the eyes she made at me, and the faces
she pulled whenever Garcia turned his head away.

“I was disgusted, and never spoke a word to her all night. The next
morning we had made up our packs, and had already started, when we
became aware that we had a dozen horsemen on our heels. The braggart
Andalusians, who had been boasting they would murder every one who came
near them, cut a pitiful figure at once. There was a general rout. _El
Dancaire_, Garcia, a good-looking fellow from Ecija, who was called _El
Remendado_, and Carmen herself, kept their wits about them. The rest
forsook the mules and took to the gorges, where the horses could not
follow them. There was no hope of saving the mules, so we hastily
unstrapped the best part of our booty, and taking it on our shoulders,
we tried to escape through the rocks down the steepest of the slopes. We
threw our packs down in front of us and followed them as best we could,
slipping along on our heels. Meanwhile the enemy fired at us. It was
the first time I had ever heard bullets whistling around me and I
didn’t mind it very much. When there’s a woman looking on, there’s no
particular merit in snapping one’s fingers at death. We all escaped
except the poor _Remendado_, who received a bullet wound in the loins. I
threw away my pack and tried to lift him up.

“‘Idiot!’ shouted Garcia, ‘what do we want with offal! Finish him off,
and don’t lose the cotton stockings!’

“‘Drop him!’ cried Carmen.

“I was so exhausted that I was obliged to lay him down for a moment
under a rock. Garcia came up, and fired his blunderbuss full into his
face. ‘He’d be a clever fellow who recognised him now!’ said he, as he
looked at the face, cut to pieces by a dozen slugs.

“There, sir; that’s the delightful sort of life I’ve led! That night
we found ourselves in a thicket, worn out with fatigue, with nothing to
eat, and ruined by the loss of our mules. What do you think that devil
Garcia did? He pulled a pack of cards out of his pocket and began
playing games with _El Dancaire_ by the light of a fire they kindled.
Meanwhile I was lying down, staring at the stars, thinking of _El
Remendado_, and telling myself I would just as lief be in his place.
Carmen was squatting down near me, and every now and then she would
rattle her castanets and hum a tune. Then, drawing close to me, as if
she would have whispered in my ear, she kissed me two or three times
over almost against my will.

“‘You are a devil,’ said I to her.

“‘Yes,’ she replied.

“After a few hours’ rest, she departed to Gaucin, and the next morning a
little goatherd brought us some food. We stayed there all that day, and
in the evening we moved close to Gaucin. We were expecting news from
Carmen, but none came. After daylight broke we saw a muleteer attending
a well-dressed woman with a parasol, and a little girl who seemed to
be her servant. Said Garcia, ‘There go two mules and two women whom St.
Nicholas has sent us. I would rather have had four mules, but no matter.
I’ll do the best I can with these.’

“He took his blunderbuss, and went down the pathway, hiding himself
among the brushwood.

“We followed him, _El Dancaire_ and I keeping a little way behind. As
soon as the woman saw us, instead of being frightened--and our dress
would have been enough to frighten any one--she burst into a fit of loud
laughter. ‘Ah! the _lillipendi_! They take me for an _erani_!’ *

     * “The idiots, they take me for a smart lady!”

“It was Carmen, but so well disguised that if she had spoken any other
language I should never have recognised her. She sprang off her mule,
and talked some time in an undertone with _El Dancaire_ and Garcia. Then
she said to me:

“‘Canary-bird, we shall meet again before you’re hanged. I’m off to
Gibraltar on gipsy business--you’ll soon have news of me.’

“We parted, after she had told us of a place where we should find
shelter for some days. That girl was the providence of our gang. We soon
received some money sent by her, and a piece of news which was still
more useful to us--to the effect that on a certain day two English lords
would travel from Gibraltar to Granada by a road she mentioned. This was
a word to the wise. They had plenty of good guineas. Garcia would have
killed them, but _El Dancaire_ and I objected. All we took from them,
besides their shirts, which we greatly needed, was their money and their

“Sir, a man may turn rogue in sheer thoughtlessness. You lose your
head over a pretty girl, you fight another man about her, there is a
catastrophe, you have to take to the mountains, and you turn from a
smuggler into a robber before you have time to think about it. After
this matter of the English lords, we concluded that the neighbourhood of
Gibraltar would not be healthy for us, and we plunged into the _Sierra
de Ronda_. You once mentioned Jose-Maria to me. Well, it was there I
made acquaintance with him. He always took his mistress with him on his
expeditions. She was a pretty girl, quiet, modest, well-mannered, you
never heard a vulgar word from her, and she was quite devoted to him.
He, on his side, led her a very unhappy life. He was always running
after other women, he ill-treated her, and then sometimes he would take
it into his head to be jealous. One day he slashed her with a knife.
Well, she only doted on him the more! That’s the way with women, and
especially with Andalusians. This girl was proud of the scar on her arm,
and would display it as though it were the most beautiful thing in the
world. And then Jose-Maria was the worst of comrades in the bargain.
In one expedition we made with him, he managed so that he kept all the
profits, and we had all the trouble and the blows. But I must go back to
my story. We had no sign at all from Carmen. _El Dancaire_ said: ‘One
of us will have to go to Gibraltar to get news of her. She must have
planned some business. I’d go at once, only I’m too well known at
Gibraltar.’ _El Tuerto_ said:

“‘I’m well known there too. I’ve played so many tricks on the
crayfish*--and as I’ve only one eye, it is not overeasy for me to
disguise myself.’

     * Name applied by the Spanish populace to the British
     soldiers, on account of the colour of their uniform.

“‘Then I suppose I must go,’ said I, delighted at the very idea of
seeing Carmen again. ‘Well, how am I to set about it?’

“The others answered:

“‘You must either go by sea, or you must get through by San Rocco,
whichever you like the best; once you are in Gibraltar, inquire in the
port where a chocolate-seller called _La Rollona_ lives. When you’ve
found her, she’ll tell you everything that’s happening.’

“It was settled that we were all to start for the Sierra, that I was
to leave my two companions there, and take my way to Gibraltar, in
the character of a fruit-seller. At Ronda one of our men procured me
a passport; at Gaucin I was provided with a donkey. I loaded it with
oranges and melons, and started forth. When I reached Gibraltar I found
that many people knew _La Rollona_, but that she was either dead or had
gone _ad finibus terroe_,* and, to my mind, her disappearance explained
the failure of our correspondence with Carmen. I stabled my donkey,
and began to move about the town, carrying my oranges as though to sell
them, but in reality looking to see whether I could not come across any
face I knew. The place is full of ragamuffins from every country in the
world, and it really is like the Tower of Babel, for you can’t go ten
paces along a street without hearing as many languages. I did see some
gipsies, but I hardly dared confide in them. I was taking stock of them,
and they were taking stock of me. We had mutually guessed each other
to be rogues, but the important thing for us was to know whether we
belonged to the same gang. After having spent two days in fruitless
wanderings, and having found out nothing either as to _La Rollona_ or
as to Carmen, I was thinking I would go back to my comrades as soon as I
had made a few purchases, when, toward sunset, as I was walking along a
street, I heard a woman’s voice from a window say, ‘Orange-seller!’

     * To the galleys, or else to all the devils in hell.

“I looked up, and on a balcony I saw Carmen looking out, beside a
scarlet-coated officer with gold epaulettes, curly hair, and all
the appearance of a rich _milord_. As for her, she was magnificently
dressed, a shawl hung on her shoulders, she’d a gold comb in her hair,
everything she wore was of silk; and the cunning little wretch, not a
bit altered, was laughing till she held her sides.

“The Englishman shouted to me in mangled Spanish to come upstairs, as
the lady wanted some oranges, and Carmen said to me in Basque:

“‘Come up, and don’t look astonished at anything!’

“Indeed, nothing that she did ought ever to have astonished me. I don’t
know whether I was most happy or wretched at seeing her again. At the
door of the house there was a tall English servant with a powdered head,
who ushered me into a splendid drawing-room. Instantly Carmen said to me
in Basque, ‘You don’t know one word of Spanish, and you don’t know me.’
Then turning to the Englishman, she added:

“‘I told you so. I saw at once he was a Basque. Now you’ll hear what a
queer language he speaks. Doesn’t he look silly? He’s like a cat that’s
been caught in the larder!’

“‘And you,’ said I to her in my own language, ‘you look like an impudent
jade--and I’ve a good mind to scar your face here and now, before your

“‘My spark!’ said she. ‘Why, you’ve guessed that all alone! Are you
jealous of this idiot? You’re even sillier than you were before our
evening in the _Calle del Candilejo_! Don’t you see, fool, that at this
moment I’m doing gipsy business, and doing it in the most brilliant
manner? This house belongs to me--the guineas of that crayfish will
belong to me! I lead him by the nose, and I’ll lead him to a place that
he’ll never get out of!’

“‘And if I catch you doing any gipsy business in this style again, I’ll
see to it that you never do any again!’ said I.

“‘Ah! upon my word! Are you my _rom_, pray that you give me orders? If
_El Tuerto_ is pleased, what have you to do with it? Oughtn’t you to
be very happy that you are the only man who can call himself my
_minchorro_?’ *

     * My “lover,” or rather my “fancy.”

“‘What does he say?’ inquired the Englishman.

“‘He says he’s thirsty, and would like a drink,’ answered Carmen, and
she threw herself back upon a sofa, screaming with laughter at her own

“When that girl begins to laugh, sir, it was hopeless for anybody to try
and talk sense. Everybody laughed with her. The big Englishman began to
laugh too, like the idiot he was, and ordered the servant to bring me
something to drink.

“While I was drinking she said to me:

“‘Do you see that ring he has on his finger? If you like I’ll give it to

“And I answered:

“‘I would give one of my fingers to have your _milord_ out on the
mountains, and each of us with a _maquila_ in his fist.’

“‘_Maquila_, what does that mean?’ asked the Englishman.

“‘Maquila,’ said Carmen, still laughing, ‘means an orange. Isn’t it a
queer word for an orange? He says he’d like you to eat _maquila_.’

“‘Does he?’ said the Englishman. ‘Very well, bring more _maquila_

“While we were talking a servant came in and said dinner was ready.
Then the Englishman stood up, gave me a piastre, and offered his arm
to Carmen, as if she couldn’t have walked alone. Carmen, who was still
laughing, said to me:

“‘My boy, I can’t ask you to dinner. But to-morrow, as soon as you hear
the drums beat for parade, come here with your oranges. You’ll find a
better furnished room than the one in the _Calle del Candilejo_, and
you’ll see whether I am still your _Carmencita_. Then afterwards we’ll
talk about gipsy business.’

“I gave her no answer--even when I was in the street I could hear the
Englishman shouting, ‘Bring more _maquila_ to-morrow,’ and Carmen’s
peals of laughter.

“I went out, not knowing what I should do; I hardly slept, and next
morning I was so enraged with the treacherous creature that I made up
my mind to leave Gibraltar without seeing her again. But the moment
the drums began to roll, my courage failed me. I took up my net full of
oranges, and hurried off to Carmen’s house. Her window-shutters had been
pulled apart a little, and I saw her great dark eyes watching for me.
The powdered servant showed me in at once. Carmen sent him out with a
message, and as soon as we were alone she burst into one of her fits of
crocodile laughter and threw her arms around my neck. Never had I seen
her look so beautiful. She was dressed out like a queen, and scented;
she had silken furniture, embroidered curtains--and I togged out like
the thief I was!

“‘_Minchorro_,’ said Carmen, ‘I’ve a good mind to smash up everything
here, set fire to the house, and take myself off to the mountains.’ And
then she would fondle me, and then she would laugh, and she danced about
and tore up her fripperies. Never did monkey gambol nor make such faces,
nor play such wild tricks, as she did that day. When she had recovered
her gravity--

“‘Hark!’ she said, ‘this is gipsy business. I mean him to take me to
Ronda, where I have a sister who is a nun’ (here she shrieked with
laughter again). ‘We shall pass by a particular spot which I shall make
known to you. Then you must fall upon him and strip him to the skin.
Your best plan would be to do for him, but,’ she added, with a certain
fiendish smile of hers, which no one who saw it ever had any desire to
imitate, ‘do you know what you had better do? Let _El Tuerto_ come up
in front of you. You keep a little behind. The crayfish is brave, and
skilful too, and he has good pistols. Do you understand?’

“And she broke off with another fit of laughter that made me shiver.

“‘No,’ said I, ‘I hate Garcia, but he’s my comrade. Some day, maybe,
I’ll rid you of him, but we’ll settle our account after the fashion of
my country. It’s only chance that has made me a gipsy, and in certain
things I shall always be a thorough Navarrese,* as the proverb says.

     * _Navarro fino_.

“‘You’re a fool,’ she rejoined, ‘a simpleton, a regular _payllo_. You’re
just like the dwarf who thinks himself tall because he can spit a long
way.* You don’t love me! Be off with you!’

     * _Or esorjle de or marsichisle, sin chisnar lachinguel_.
     “The promise of a dwarf is that he will spit a long way.”--A
     gipsy proverb.

“Whenever she said to me ‘Be off with you,” I couldn’t go away. I
promised I would start back to my comrades and wait the arrival of the
Englishman. She, on her side, promised she would be ill until she left
Gibraltar for Ronda.

“I remained at Gibraltar two days longer. She had the boldness to
disguise herself and come and see me at the inn. I departed, I had a
plan of my own. I went back to our meeting-place with the information as
to the spot and the hour at which the Englishman and Carmen were to pass
by. I found _El Dancaire_ and Garcia waiting for me. We spent the night
in a wood, beside a fire made of pine-cones that blazed splendidly. I
suggested to Garcia that we should play cards, and he agreed. In the
second game I told him he was cheating; he began to laugh; I threw the
cards in his face. He tried to get at his blunderbuss. I set my foot on
it, and said, ‘They say you can use a knife as well as the best ruffian
in Malaga; will you try it with me?’ _El Dancaire_ tried to part us. I
had given Garcia one or two cuffs, his rage had given him courage, he
drew his knife, and I drew mine. We both of us told _El Dancaire_ he
must leave us alone, and let us fight it out. He saw there was no means
of stopping us, so he stood on one side. Garcia was already bent double,
like a cat ready to spring upon a mouse. He held his hat in his
left hand to parry with, and his knife in front of him--that’s their
Andalusian guard. I stood up in the Navarrese fashion, with my left arm
raised, my left leg forward, and my knife held straight along my right
thigh. I felt I was stronger than any giant. He flew at me like an
arrow. I turned round on my left foot, so that he found nothing in front
of him. But I thrust him in the throat, and the knife went in so far
that my hand was under his chin. I gave the blade such a twist that it
broke. That was the end. The blade was carried out of the wound by a
gush of blood as thick as my arm, and he fell full length on his face.

“‘What have you done?’ said _El Dancaire_ to me.

“‘Hark ye,’ said I, ‘we couldn’t live on together. I love Carmen and I
mean to be the only one. And besides, Garcia was a villain. I remember
what he did to that poor _Remendado_. There are only two of us left now,
but we are both good fellows. Come, will you have me for your friend,
for life or death?’

“_El Dancaire_ stretched out his hand. He was a man of fifty.

“‘Devil take these love stories!’ he cried. ‘If you’d asked him for
Carmen he’d have sold her to you for a piastre! There are only two of us
now--how shall we manage for to-morrow?’

“‘I’ll manage it all alone,’ I answered. ‘I can snap my fingers at the
whole world now.’

“We buried Garcia, and we moved our camp two hundred paces farther on.
The next morning Carmen and her Englishman came along with two muleteers
and a servant. I said to _El Dancaire_:

“‘I’ll look after the Englishman, you frighten the others--they’re not

“The Englishman was a plucky fellow. He’d have killed me if Carmen
hadn’t jogged his elbow.

“To put it shortly, I won Carmen back that day, and my first words were
to tell her she was a widow.

“When she knew how it had all happened--

“‘You’ll always be a _lillipendi_,’ she said. ‘Garcia ought to have
killed you. Your Navarrese guard is a pack of nonsense, and he has sent
far more skilful men than you into the darkness. It was just that his
time had come--and yours will come too.’

“‘Ay, and yours too!--if you’re not a faithful _romi_ to me.’

“‘So be it,’ said she. ‘I’ve read in the coffee grounds, more than once,
that you and I were to end our lives together. Pshaw! what must be, will
be!’ and she rattled her castanets, as was her way when she wanted to
drive away some worrying thought.

“One runs on when one is talking about one’s self. I dare say all these
details bore you, but I shall soon be at the end of my story. Our new
life lasted for some considerable time. _El Dancaire_ and I gathered a
few comrades about us, who were more trustworthy than our earlier ones,
and we turned our attention to smuggling. Occasionally, indeed, I must
confess we stopped travellers on the highways, but never unless we were
at the last extremity, and could not avoid doing so; and besides, we
never ill-treated the travellers, and confined ourselves to taking their
money from them.

“For some months I was very well satisfied with Carmen. She still served
us in our smuggling operations, by giving us notice of any opportunity
of making a good haul. She remained either at Malaga, at Cordova, or at
Granada, but at a word from me she would leave everything, and come to
meet me at some _venta_ or even in our lonely camp. Only once--it was at
Malaga--she caused me some uneasiness. I heard she had fixed her fancy
upon a very rich merchant, with whom she probably proposed to play her
Gibraltar trick over again. In spite of everything _El Dancaire_ said to
stop me, I started off, walked into Malaga in broad daylight, sought for
Carmen and carried her off instantly. We had a sharp altercation.

“‘Do you know,’ said she, ‘now that you’re my _rom_ for good and all, I
don’t care for you so much as when you were my _minchorro_! I won’t be
worried, and above all, I won’t be ordered about. I choose to be free to
do as I like. Take care you don’t drive me too far; if you tire me
out, I’ll find some good fellow who’ll serve you just as you served _El

“_El Dancaire_ patched it up between us; but we had said things to each
other that rankled in our hearts, and we were not as we had been before.
Shortly after that we had a misfortune: the soldiers caught us, _El
Dancaire_ and two of my comrades were killed; two others were taken.
I was sorely wounded, and, but for my good horse, I should have fallen
into the soldiers’ hands. Half dead with fatigue, and with a bullet in
my body, I sought shelter in a wood, with my only remaining comrade.
When I got off my horse I fainted away, and I thought I was going to
die there in the brushwood, like a shot hare. My comrade carried me to a
cave he knew of, and then he sent to fetch Carmen.

“She was at Granada, and she hurried to me at once. For a whole
fortnight she never left me for a single instant. She never closed her
eyes; she nursed me with a skill and care such as no woman ever showed
to the man she loved most tenderly. As soon as I could stand on my feet,
she conveyed me with the utmost secrecy to Granada. These gipsy women
find safe shelter everywhere, and I spent more than six weeks in a house
only two doors from that of the _Corregidor_ who was trying to arrest
me. More than once I saw him pass by, from behind the shutter. At last I
recovered, but I had thought a great deal, on my bed of pain, and I had
planned to change my way of life. I suggested to Carmen that we should
leave Spain, and seek an honest livelihood in the New World. She laughed
in my face.

“‘We were not born to plant cabbages,’ she cried. ‘Our fate is to live
_payllos_! Listen: I’ve arranged a business with Nathan Ben-Joseph at
Gibraltar. He has cotton stuffs that he can not get through till you
come to fetch them. He knows you’re alive, and reckons upon you. What
would our Gibraltar correspondents say if you failed them?’

“I let myself by persuaded, and took up my vile trade once more.

“While I was hiding at Granada there were bull-fights there, to which
Carmen went. When she came back she talked a great deal about a skilful
_picador_ of the name of Lucas. She knew the name of his horse, and how
much his embroidered jacket had cost him. I paid no attention to this;
but a few days later, Juanito, the only one of my comrades who was left,
told me he had seen Carmen with Lucas in a shop in the Zacatin. Then
I began to feel alarmed. I asked Carmen how and why she had made the
_picador’s_ acquaintance.

“‘He’s a man out of whom we may be able to get something,’ said she.
‘A noisy stream has either water in it or pebbles. He has earned twelve
hundred reals at the bull-fights. It must be one of two things: we
must either have his money, or else, as he is a good rider and a plucky
fellow, we can enroll him in our gang. We have lost such an one an such
an one; you’ll have to replace them. Take this man with you!’

“‘I want neither his money nor himself,’ I replied, ‘and I forbid you to
speak to him.’

“‘Beware!’ she retorted. ‘If any one defies me to do a thing, it’s very
quickly done.’

“Luckily the _picador_ departed to Malaga, and I set about passing in
the Jew’s cotton stuffs. This expedition gave me a great deal to do, and
Carmen as well. I forgot Lucas, and perhaps she forgot him too--for the
moment, at all events. It was just about that time, sir, that I met you,
first at Montilla, and then afterward at Cordova. I won’t talk about
that last interview. You know more about it, perhaps, than I do. Carmen
stole your watch from you, she wanted to have your money besides, and
especially that ring I see on your finger, and which she declared to be
a magic ring, the possession of which was very important to her. We had
a violent quarrel, and I struck her. She turned pale and began to cry.
It was the first time I had ever seen her cry, and it affected me in the
most painful manner. I begged her to forgive me, but she sulked with me
for a whole day, and when I started back to Montilla she wouldn’t kiss
me. My heart was still very sore, when, three days later, she joined me
with a smiling face and as merry as a lark. Everything was forgotten,
and we were like a pair of honeymoon lovers. Just as we were parting she
said, ‘There’s a _fete_ at Cordova; I shall go and see it, and then I
shall know what people will be coming away with money, and I can warn

“I let her go. When I was alone I thought about the _fete_, and about
the change in Carmen’s temper. ‘She must have avenged herself already,’
said I to myself, ‘since she was the first to make our quarrel up.’ A
peasant told me there was to be bull-fighting at Cordova. Then my blood
began to boil, and I went off like a madman straight to the bull-ring. I
had Lucas pointed out to me, and on the bench, just beside the barrier,
I recognised Carmen. One glance at her was enough to turn my suspicion
into certainty. When the first bull appeared Lucas began, as I had
expected to play the agreeable; he snatched the cockade off the bull and
presented it to Carmen, who put it in her hair at once.*

     * _La divisa_. A knot of ribbon, the colour of which
     indicates the pasturage from which each bull comes. This
     knot of ribbon is fastened into the bull’s hide with a sort
     of hook, and it is considered the very height of gallantry
     to snatch it off the living beast and present it to a woman.

“The bull avenged me. Lucas was knocked down, with his horse on his
chest, and the bull on top of both of them. I looked for Carmen, she had
disappeared from her place already. I couldn’t get out of mine, and I
was obliged to wait until the bull-fight was over. Then I went off to
that house you already know, and waited there quietly all that evening
and part of the night. Toward two o’clock in the morning Carmen came
back, and was rather surprised to see me.

“‘Come with me,’ said I.

“‘Very well,’ said she, ‘let’s be off.’

“I went and got my horse, and took her up behind me, and we travelled
all the rest of the night without saying a word to each other. When
daylight came we stopped at a lonely inn, not far from a hermitage.
There I said to Carmen:

“‘Listen--I forget everything, I won’t mention anything to you. But
swear one thing to me--that you’ll come with me to America, and live
there quietly!’

“‘No,’ said she, in a sulky voice, ‘I won’t go to America--I am very
well here.’

“‘That’s because you’re near Lucas. But be very sure that even if
he gets well now, he won’t make old bones. And, indeed, why should I
quarrel with him? I’m tired of killing all your lovers; I’ll kill you
this time.’

“She looked at me steadily with her wild eyes, and then she said:

“‘I’ve always thought you would kill me. The very first time I saw you I
had just met a priest at the door of my house. And to-night, as we were
going out of Cordova, didn’t you see anything? A hare ran across the
road between your horse’s feet. It is fate.’

“‘Carmencita,’ I asked, ‘don’t you love me any more?’

“She gave me no answer, she was sitting cross-legged on a mat, making
marks on the ground with her finger.

“‘Let us change our life, Carmen,’ said I imploringly. ‘Let us go away
and live somewhere we shall never be parted. You know we have a hundred
and twenty gold ounces buried under an oak not far from here, and then
we have more money with Ben-Joseph the Jew.’

“She began to smile, and then she said, ‘Me first, and then you. I know
it will happen like that.’

“‘Think about it,’ said I. ‘I’ve come to the end of my patience and my
courage. Make up your mind--or else I must make up mine.’

“I left her alone and walked toward the hermitage. I found the hermit
praying. I waited till his prayer was finished. I longed to pray myself,
but I couldn’t. When he rose up from his knees I went to him.

“‘Father,’ I said, ‘will you pray for some one who is in great danger?’

“‘I pray for every one who is afflicted,’ he replied.

“‘Can you say a mass for a soul which is perhaps about to go into the
presence of its Maker?’

“‘Yes,’ he answered, looking hard at me.

“And as there was something strange about me, he tried to make me talk.

“‘It seems to me that I have seen you somewhere,’ said he.

“I laid a piastre on his bench.

“‘When shall you say the mass?’ said I.

“‘In half an hour. The son of the innkeeper yonder is coming to serve
it. Tell me, young man, haven’t you something on your conscience that is
tormenting you? Will you listen to a Christian’s counsel?’

“I could hardly restrain my tears. I told him I would come back, and
hurried away. I went and lay down on the grass until I heard the bell.
Then I went back to the chapel, but I stayed outside it. When he had
said the mass, I went back to the _venta_. I was hoping Carmen would
have fled. She could have taken my horse and ridden away. But I found
her there still. She did not choose that any one should say I had
frightened her. While I had been away she had unfastened the hem of her
gown and taken out the lead that weighted it; and now she was sitting
before a table, looking into a bowl of water into which she had just
thrown the lead she had melted. She was so busy with her spells that at
first she didn’t notice my return. Sometimes she would take out a bit of
lead and turn it round every way with a melancholy look. Sometimes she
would sing one of those magic songs, which invoke the help of Maria
Padella, Don Pedro’s mistress, who is said to have been the _Bari
Crallisa_--the great gipsy queen.*

     * Maria Padella was accused of having bewitched Don Pedro.
     According to one popular tradition she presented Queen
     Blanche of Bourbon with a golden girdle which, in the eyes
     of the bewitched king, took on the appearance of a living
     snake. Hence the repugnance he always showed toward the
     unhappy princess.

“‘Carmen,’ I said to her, ‘will you come with me?’ She rose, threw away
her wooden bowl, and put her mantilla over her head ready to start. My
horse was led up, she mounted behind me, and we rode away.

“After we had gone a little distance I said to her, ‘So, my Carmen, you
are quite ready to follow me, isn’t that so?’

“She answered, ‘Yes, I’ll follow you, even to death--but I won’t live
with you any more.’

“We had reached a lonely gorge. I stopped my horse.

“‘Is this the place?’ she said.

“And with a spring she reached the ground. She took off her mantilla and
threw it at her feet, and stood motionless, with one hand on her hip,
looking at me steadily.

“‘You mean to kill me, I see that well,’ said she. ‘It is fate. But
you’ll never make me give in.’

“I said to her: ‘Be rational, I implore you; listen to me. All the
past is forgotten. Yet you know it is you who have been my ruin--it is
because of you that I am a robber and a murderer. Carmen, my Carmen, let
me save you, and save myself with you.’

“‘Jose,’ she answered, ‘what you ask is impossible. I don’t love you
any more. You love me still, and that is why you want to kill me. If
I liked, I might tell you some other lie, but I don’t choose to give
myself the trouble. Everything is over between us two. You are my _rom_,
and you have the right to kill your _romi_, but Carmen will always be
free. A _calli_ she was born, and a _calli_ she’ll die.’

“‘Then, you love Lucas?’ I asked.

“‘Yes, I have loved him--as I loved you--for an instant--less than I
loved you, perhaps. But now I don’t love anything, and I hate myself for
ever having loved you.’

“I cast myself at her feet, I seized her hands, I watered them with my
tears, I reminded her of all the happy moments we had spent together,
I offered to continue my brigand’s life, if that would please her.
Everything, sir, everything--I offered her everything if she would only
love me again.

“She said:

“‘Love you again? That’s not possible! Live with you? I will not do it!’

“I was wild with fury. I drew my knife, I would have had her look
frightened, and sue for mercy--but that woman was a demon.

“I cried, ‘For the last time I ask you. Will you stay with me?’

“‘No! no! no!’ she said, and she stamped her foot.

“Then she pulled a ring I had given her off her finger, and cast it into
the brushwood.

“I struck her twice over--I had taken Garcia’s knife, because I had
broken my own. At the second thrust she fell without a sound. It seems
to me that I can still see her great black eyes staring at me. Then they
grew dim and the lids closed.

“For a good hour I lay there prostrate beside her corpse. Then I
recollected that Carmen had often told me that she would like to lie
buried in a wood. I dug a grave for her with my knife and laid her in
it. I hunted about a long time for her ring, and I found it at last.
I put it into the grave beside her, with a little cross--perhaps I did
wrong. Then I got upon my horse, galloped to Cordova, and gave myself up
at the nearest guard-room. I told them I had killed Carmen, but I would
not tell them where her body was. That hermit was a holy man! He prayed
for her--he said a mass for her soul. Poor child! It’s the _calle_ who
are to blame for having brought her up as they did.”


Spain is one of the countries in which those nomads, scattered all over
Europe, and known as Bohemians, Gitanas, Gipsies, Ziegeuner, and so
forth, are now to be found in the greatest numbers. Most of these people
live, or rather wander hither and thither, in the southern and eastern
provinces of Spain, in Andalusia, and Estramadura, in the kingdom
of Murcia. There are a great many of them in Catalonia. These last
frequently cross over into France and are to be seen at all our
southern fairs. The men generally call themselves grooms, horse doctors,
mule-clippers; to these trades they add the mending of saucepans and
brass utensils, not to mention smuggling and other illicit practices.
The women tell fortunes, beg, and sell all sorts of drugs, some of which
are innocent, while some are not. The physical characteristics of the
gipsies are more easily distinguished then described, and when you have
known one, you should be able to recognise a member of the race among
a thousand other men. It is by their physiognomy and expression,
especially, that they differ from the other inhabitants of the same
country. Their complexion is exceedingly swarthy, always darker than
that of the race among whom they live. Hence the name of _cale_ (blacks)
which they frequently apply to themselves.* Their eyes, set with a
decided slant, are large, very black, and shaded by long and heavy
lashes. Their glance can only be compared to that of a wild creature. It
is full at once of boldness and shyness, and in this respect their eyes
are a fair indication of their national character, which is cunning,
bold, but with “the natural fear of blows,” like Panurge. Most of the
men are strapping fellows, slight and active. I don’t think I ever saw
a gipsy who had grown fat. In Germany the gipsy women are often very
pretty; but beauty is very uncommon among the Spanish gitanas. When very
young, they may pass as being attractive in their ugliness, but once
they have reached motherhood, they become absolutely repulsive. The
filthiness of both sexes is incredible, and no one who has not seen a
gipsy matron’s hair can form any conception of what it is, not even
if he conjures up the roughest, the greasiest, and the dustiest heads
imaginable. In some of the large Andalusian towns certain of the gipsy
girls, somewhat better looking than their fellows, will take more care
of their personal appearance. These go out and earn money by performing
dances strongly resembling those forbidden at our public balls in
carnival time. An English missionary, Mr. Borrow, the author of two very
interesting works on the Spanish gipsies, whom he undertook to convert
on behalf of the Bible Society, declares there is no instance of any
gitana showing the smallest weakness for a man not belonging to her
own race. The praise he bestows upon their chastity strikes me as being
exceedingly exaggerated. In the first place, the great majority are
in the position of the ugly woman described by Ovid, “_Casta quam nemo
rogavit_.” As for the pretty ones, they are, like all Spanish women,
very fastidious in choosing their lovers. Their fancy must be taken,
and their favour must be earned. Mr. Borrow quotes, in proof of their
virtue, one trait which does honour to his own, and especially to his
simplicity: he declares that an immoral man of his acquaintance offered
several gold ounces to a pretty gitana, and offered them in vain. An
Andalusian, to whom I retailed this anecdote, asserted that the immoral
man in question would have been far more successful if he had shown the
girl two or three piastres, and that to offer gold ounces to a gipsy was
as poor a method of persuasion as to promise a couple of millions to a
tavern wench. However that may be, it is certain that the gitana shows
the most extraordinary devotion to her husband. There is no danger and
no suffering she will not brave, to help him in his need. One of the
names which the gipsies apply to themselves, _Rome_, or “the married
couple,” seems to me a proof of their racial respect for the married
state. Speaking generally, it may be asserted that their chief virtue is
their patriotism--if we may thus describe the fidelity they observe in
all their relations with persons of the same origin as their own, their
readiness to help one another, and the inviolable secrecy which they
keep for each other’s benefit, in all compromising matters. And indeed
something of the same sort may be noticed in all mysterious associations
which are beyond the pale of the law.

     * It has struck me that the German gipsies, though they
     thoroughly understand the word _cale_, do not care to be
     called by that name. Among themselves they always use the
     designation _Romane tchave_.

Some months ago, I paid a visit to a gipsy tribe in the Vosges country.
In the hut of an old woman, the oldest member of the tribe, I found
a gipsy, in no way related to the family, who was sick of a mortal
disease. The man had left a hospital, where he was well cared for, so
that he might die among his own people. For thirteen weeks he had been
lying in bed in their encampment, and receiving far better treatment
than any of the sons and sons-in-law who shared his shelter. He had a
good bed made of straw and moss, and sheets that were tolerably white,
whereas all the rest of the family, which numbered eleven persons, slept
on planks three feet long. So much for their hospitality. This very same
woman, humane as was her treatment of her guest said to me constantly
before the sick man: “_Singo, singo, homte hi mulo_.” “Soon, soon he
must die!” After all, these people live such miserable lives, that a
reference to the approach of death can have no terrors for them.

One remarkable feature in the gipsy character is their indifference
about religion. Not that they are strong-minded or sceptical. They
have never made any profession of atheism. Far from that, indeed, the
religion of the country which they inhabit is always theirs; but they
change their religion when they change the country of their residence.
They are equally free from the superstitions which replace religious
feeling in the minds of the vulgar. How, indeed, can superstition exist
among a race which, as a rule, makes its livelihood out of the credulity
of others? Nevertheless, I have remarked a particular horror of touching
a corpse among the Spanish gipsies. Very few of these could be induced
to carry a dead man to his grave, even if they were paid for it.

I have said that most gipsy women undertake to tell fortunes. They do
this very successfully. But they find a much greater source of profit
in the sale of charms and love-philters. Not only do they supply toads’
claws to hold fickle hearts, and powdered loadstone to kindle love in
cold ones, but if necessity arises, they can use mighty incantations,
which force the devil to lend them his aid. Last year the following
story was related to me by a Spanish lady. She was walking one day along
the _Calle d’Alcala_, feeling very sad and anxious. A gipsy woman who
was squatting on the pavement called out to her, “My pretty lady, your
lover has played you false!” (It was quite true.) “Shall I get him
back for you?” My readers will imagine with what joy the proposal was
accepted, and how complete was the confidence inspired by a person who
could thus guess the inmost secrets of the heart. As it would have been
impossible to proceed to perform the operations of magic in the most
crowded street in Madrid, a meeting was arranged for the next day.
“Nothing will be easier than to bring back the faithless one to your
feet!” said the gitana. “Do you happen to have a handkerchief, a scarf,
or a mantilla, that he gave you?” A silken scarf was handed her. “Now
sew a piastre into one corner of the scarf with crimson silk--sew half
a piastre into another corner--sew a peseta here--and a two-real piece
there; then, in the middle you must sew a gold coin--a doubloon would be
best.” The doubloon and all the other coins were duly sewn in. “Now give
me the scarf, and I’ll take it to the Campo Santo when midnight strikes.
You come along with me, if you want to see a fine piece of witchcraft.
I promise you shall see the man you love to-morrow!” The gipsy departed
alone for the Campo Santo, since my Spanish friend was too much afraid
of witchcraft to go there with her. I leave my readers to guess whether
my poor forsaken lady ever saw her lover, or her scarf, again.

In spite of their poverty and the sort of aversion they inspire, the
gipsies are treated with a certain amount of consideration by the more
ignorant folk, and they are very proud of it. They feel themselves to be
a superior race as regards intelligence, and they heartily despise the
people whose hospitality they enjoy. “These Gentiles are so stupid,”
 said one of the Vosges gipsies to me, “that there is no credit in taking
them in. The other day a peasant woman called out to me in the street.
I went into her house. Her stove smoked and she asked me to give her a
charm to cure it. First of all I made her give me a good bit of bacon,
and then I began to mumble a few words in _Romany_. ‘You’re a fool,’ I
said, ‘you were born a fool, and you’ll die a fool!’ When I had got near
the door I said to her, in good German, ‘The most certain way of keeping
your stove from smoking is not to light any fire in it!’ and then I took
to my heels.”

The history of the gipsies is still a problem. We know, indeed, that
their first bands, which were few and far between, appeared in Eastern
Europe towards the beginning of the fifteenth century. But nobody can
tell whence they started, or why they came to Europe, and, what is still
more extraordinary, no one knows how they multiplied, within a short
time, and in so prodigious a fashion, and in several countries, all
very remote from each other. The gipsies themselves have preserved no
tradition whatsoever as to their origin, and though most of them do
speak of Egypt as their original fatherland, that is only because they
have adopted a very ancient fable respecting their race.

Most of the Orientalists who have studied the gipsy language believe
that the cradle of the race was in India. It appears, in fact, that
many of the roots and grammatical forms of the _Romany_ tongue are to
be found in idioms derived from the Sanskrit. As may be imagined, the
gipsies, during their long wanderings, have adopted many foreign words.
In every _Romany_ dialect a number of Greek words appear.

At the present day the gipsies have almost as many dialects as there are
separate hordes of their race. Everywhere, they speak the language of
the country they inhabit more easily than their own idiom, which
they seldom use, except with the object of conversing freely before
strangers. A comparison of the dialect of the German gipsies with that
used by the Spanish gipsies, who have held no communication with each
other for several centuries, reveals the existence of a great number of
words common to both. But everywhere the original language is notably
affected, though in different degrees, by its contact with the more
cultivated languages into the use of which the nomads have been forced.
German in one case and Spanish in the other have so modified the
_Romany_ groundwork that it would not be possible for a gipsy from the
Black Forest to converse with one of his Andalusian brothers, although a
few sentences on each side would suffice to convince them that each was
speaking a dialect of the same language. Certain words in very frequent
use are, I believe, common to every dialect. Thus, in every vocabulary
which I have been able to consult, _pani_ means water, _manro_ means
bread, _mas_ stands for meat, and _lon_ for salt.

The nouns of number are almost the same in every case. The German
dialect seems to me much purer than the Spanish, for it has preserved
numbers of the primitive grammatical forms, whereas the Gitanos have
adopted those of the Castilian tongue. Nevertheless, some words are an
exception, as though to prove that the language was originally common
to all. The preterite of the German dialect is formed by adding _ium_
to the imperative, which is always the root of the verb. In the
Spanish _Romany_ the verbs are all conjugated on the model of the first
conjugation of the Castilian verbs. From _jamar_, the infinitive of “to
eat,” the regular conjugation should be _jame_, “I have eaten.” From
_lillar_, “to take,” _lille_, “I have taken.” Yet, some old gipsies
say, as an exception, _jayon_ and _lillon_. I am not acquainted with any
other verbs which have preserved this ancient form.

While I am thus showing off my small acquaintance with the _Romany_
language, I must notice a few words of French slang which our thieves
have borrowed from the gipsies. From _Les Mysteres de Paris_ honest
folk have learned that the word _chourin_ means “a knife.” This is
pure _Romany_--_tchouri_ is one of the words which is common to every
dialect. Monsieur Vidocq calls a horse _gres_--this again is a gipsy
word--_gras_, _gre_, _graste_, and _gris_. Add to this the word
_romanichel_, by which the gipsies are described in Parisian slang.
This is a corruption of _romane tchave_--“gipsy lads.” But a piece of
etymology of which I am really proud is that of the word _frimousse_,
“face,” “countenance”--a word which every schoolboy uses, or did use, in
my time. Note, in the first place, the Oudin, in his curious dictionary,
published in 1640, wrote the word _firlimouse_. Now in _Romany_,
_firla_, or _fila_, stands for “face,” and has the same meaning--it
is exactly the _os_ of the Latins. The combination of _firlamui_ was
instantly understood by a genuine gipsy, and I believe it to be true to
the spirit of the gipsy language.

I have surely said enough to give the readers of Carmen a favourable
idea of my _Romany_ studies. I will conclude with the following proverb,
which comes in very appropriately: _En retudi panda nasti abela macha_.
“Between closed lips no fly can pass.”

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