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Caesar or Nothing by Pio Baroja

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"I! I have never hated you.... Quite the contrary."

"Whenever you see me you get away, and just now you looked at me as
if you were terrified. Have you such a grudge against me for a joke I
played on you long ago?"

"I, a grudge! No. It is because I have the impression, Amparito, that
you want to upset my plans, to make game of me. Why do you?"

"Do you think I try to amuse myself by worrying you?"


"No, that isn't true. You don't think so."

"Then why this constant inclination to distress me, to poke fun at me?"

"I never poked fun at you."

"Then I have made a mistake.... I had come to think that you took some
interest in me."

"And so I did. I did take an interest in you, and I keep on taking an
interest in you."

"And why so?"

"Because I see that you are unhappy, and you are alone."

"Ah! You are sorry for me!" "Now you are offended. Yes, I am sorry for


"Yes, sorry. Because I see that you despise everybody and despise
yourself, because you think people are bad, and that you are too, and to
me this seems so sad that it makes me pity you deeply."

Caesar began to walk up and down the gallery, trembling a little.

"I don't see why you say this to me," he murmured. "I am a morbid man,
with an ulcerated, wounded spirit.... I know that. But why say it to me?
Do you take pleasure in humiliating me?"

"No, Caesar," said Amparito, drawing near him. "You don't believe that I
take pleasure in humiliating you. No, you know well that I do not."

On saying this, Amparito burst into tears, and she had to lean against
the gallery window, to hide her face and dissemble her emotion.

Caesar took her hand, and as she did not turn her head, he seized her
other, too. She looked at him with her eyes shining and full of tears;
and in that look there was so much attachment, so much distress, that
Caesar felt a weakness in his whole frame. Then, taking Amparito's head
between his hands, he kissed it several times.

She leaned her head on Caesar's shoulder and stood pressed against him,
sobbing. Caesar felt a sensation of anguish and pain, as if within the
depths of his soul, the strongest part of his personality had broken and

They heard the footsteps of the old woman, coming back to say that she
had found nothing in the room Laura had occupied during her stay.

Amparito dried her tears, and smiled, and her face was redder than
usual. Presently she said to the nurse:

"Probably you didn't look well. I am going to go myself."

Amparito went out.

Caesar was pale and absorbed; he felt that something extraordinary
had happened to him. His hands trembled and things swam around him.

In a short while Amparito returned. She had a round glass box in her
hand, which she said she had found in Laura's room.

"This afternoon I am going to Our Lady of the Rock," said Amparito.
"Will you come, Caesar?"


"Then, good-bye till then."

Amparito gave him her hand, and Caesar kissed it. The old servant was
dumfounded. Amparito burst out laughing.

"He is my beau. Hadn't you noticed it before?"

"No," said the old woman with a gesture of violent negation.

Amparito laughed again and disappeared.

The first days of his engagement Caesar was constantly in-tranquil and
uneasy. He kept thinking that it was impossible to live like that,
giving his whole attention to nothing except the desires of a girl. He
imagined that the awakening would come from one moment to the next; but
the awakening didn't arrive.

By degrees Caesar abandoned all the affairs of the district, which had
taken all his attention, and took to occupying himself solely with his
sweetheart. The whole town knew their relations and talked of the coming

That dazzling idyll intrigued all the girls in Castro. The truth was
that none of them had considered Caesar a marrying man; some had
imagined him already old; others an experienced and vicious bachelor,
incapable of yielding to the matrimonial yoke; and now they saw him a
youth, of distinguished type, with distinguished manners and looks.

Caesar went almost daily to Amparito's father's country-place. It was
a magnificent estate, another ancient property of the Dukes of Castro
Duro, with a house adorned with escutcheons, and an extensive stone
pool, deep and mysterious. The garden did not resemble that at Don
Calixto's house, for that one was of a frantic gaiety, and the one on
Amparito's father's estate was very melancholy. Above all, the square of
water in the pool, whose edges were decorated with great granite vases,
had a mysterious, sad aspect.

"Doesn't it make you very sad to look at this deep water in the pool?"
Caesar asked his fiancee.

"No, it doesn't me."

"It does me."

"Because you are a poet," she said, "and I am not; I am very prosaic."



The more Caesar talked with Amparito, the less he understood her and the
more he needed to be with her.

"We really do not think the same about anything," Caesar used to tell
himself, "and yet we understand each other."

Many times he endeavoured to make a psychological resume of Amparito's
character, but he didn't succeed. He didn't know how to classify her;
her type always escaped him.

"All her notions are different from mine," he used to think; "she speaks
in another way, feels in another way, she even has a different moral
code. How strange!"

Also, what Amparito knew was completely heterogeneous; she spoke French
well and wrote it fairly correctly; in Spanish, on the other hand, she
had no idea of spelling. Caesar was always stupefied on seeing the
transpositions of h's, s's, and z's that she made in her letters.

There remained by Amparito, from her passage through the French school,
a recollection of the history of France made up of a few anecdotes and a
few phrases. Thus, it was not unusual to hear her speak of Turenne,
of Francis I, or of Colbert. For the rest, she played the piano badly
enough and with extremely little enthusiasm.

This was the part belonging to her education as a rich young lady; that
which belonged to the country girl, who lived among peasants, was more
curious and personal.

She knew many plants by their vulgar names, and understood their
industrial and medicinal use. Besides, she spoke in such pure, natural
phrases that Caesar was filled with admiration.

Caesar had reached such a degree of exaltation that he thought of
nothing any more, except his sweetheart. At night, before going to
sleep, he thought of her deliriously. He often dreamed that Amparito had
changed into the red-flowered oleander of the wild palace garden, and
in every flower of the oleander he used to see Amparito's red lips and
white teeth.




The wedding took place and Caesar had to compromise about a lot of
things. It didn't trouble him to confess and receive communion; he
considered those mere customs, and went to the church of the Plain to
conform to these practices with the old priest who was a friend of

On the other hand, it did bother Caesar to have to suffer Father Martin
in his house, who allowed himself to talk and give advice; and he
was also irritated by the presence of certain persons who considered
themselves aristocrats and who came to call on him and point out to him
that it was now time to give up the rabble and the indigent and to rise
to their level.

If he had not had so much to think about as he did have, he would have
found this a good chance to show his aggressive humour; but all his
attention was fixed on Amparito.

The newly married pair spent the first days of their honeymoon at
Castro; then they went to Madrid, with the intention of going abroad,
and afterwards they went back to the town.

The old palace of the Dukes of Castro was witness to their idyll.

At the end of some time Caesar felt tranquil, perhaps too tranquil.

"This, no doubt, is what is called being happy," he used to say to
himself. And being happy gave him the impression of a limbo; he felt
as though his old personality was dying within him. He could no longer
recover his former way of life; all his disquietudes had vanished. He
felt that he was balanced, lacking those alternations of courage and
cowardice which had previously formed the characteristic thing in him.
It was the oasis after the desert; the calm that follows the storm.

Caesar wondered if he had acquired new nerves. His instinct to be
arbitrary was on the downward track.

He could not easily determine what role his wife played in his inner
life. He felt the necessity of having her beside him, of talking to her;
but he did not understand whether this was mere selfishness, for the
sake of the soothing effect her presence produced, or was for the
satisfaction of his vanity in seeing how she gave all her thought to

Spiritually he did not feel her either identified with him or strange to
him; her soul marched along as if parallel to his, but in other paths.

"All that men say about women is completely false," Caesar used to
think, "and what women say about themselves, equally so, because they
merely repeat what men say. Only when they are completely emancipated
will they succeed in understanding themselves. It is indubitable that we
have not the same leading ideas, or the same points of view. Probably we
have not a similar moral sense either. Neither is woman made for man,
nor man for woman. There is necessity between them, not harmony."

Many times, watching Amparito, he told himself:

"There is some sort of machinery in her head that I do not understand."

Noting his scrutinizing gaze, she would ask him:

"What are you thinking about me?"

He would explain his perplexities, and she would laugh.


Indubitably, there existed an instinctive accord of the sentiments
between Amparito and him, an organic sympathy. She could feel for them
both, but he could not think for them both; each mental machine ran in
isolation, like two watches, which do not hear each other. She knew
whether Caesar was sad or joyful, disheartened or spirited, merely by
looking at him. She had no need to ask him; she could read Caesar's
face. He could not, on his side, understand what went on behind that
little forehead and those moist and sparkling eyes.

"Are you feeling happy? Are you feeling sad?" he would ask her. He could
not reach the point of knowing by himself.

"I never succeed in knowing what you want," he sometimes said to her,

"Why, you always succeed," she used to reply.

Caesar often wondered if the role of being so much loved, whether wrong
or right, was an absurd, offensive thing. In all great affections there
is one peculiarity; if one loves a person, one gets to the point of
changing that person to an idol inside oneself, and from that moment
it seems that the person divides into the unreal idol, which is like a
false picture of the adored one, and the living being, who resembles the
idolized object very slightly.

Caesar found something absurd in being loved like that. Besides, he
found that she was dragging him away from himself. After six months of
marriage, she was making him change his ideas and his way of life, and
he was having absolutely no influence on her.

Previously he had often thought that if he lived with a woman, he should
prefer one that was spiritually foreign to him, who should look on him
like a rare plant, not with one that would want to identify herself with
his tastes and his sympathies.

With a somewhat hostile woman he would have felt an inclination to be
voluble and contradictory; with a sympathetic woman, on the contrary, he
would have seemed to himself like a circus runner whom one of his pupils
is trying to overtake, and who has to run hard to keep the record where
it belongs.

But his wife was neither one nor the other.

Amparito had an extraordinary insouciance, gaiety, facility, in
accepting life. Caesar never ceased being amazed. She spent her days
working, talking, singing. The slightest diversion enchanted her,
the most insignificant gift aroused a lively satisfaction.

"Everything is decided, as far as you are concerned," Caesar used, to
tell her.

"By what?"

"By your character."

She laughed at that.

It seemed as if she had chosen the best attitude toward life. She saw
that her husband was not religious, but she considered that an attribute
of men, and thought that God must have an especial complacency toward
husbands, if only so as not to leave wives alone in paradise.

Amparito held by a fetichistic Catholicism, conditioned by her situation
in life, and mixed with a lot of heterodox and contradictory ideas, but
she didn't give any thought to that.

The marriage was very successful; they never had disputes or
discussions. When both were stubborn, they never noticed which one

They had rented one rather big floor facing on the Retiro, and they
began to furnish it.

Amparito had bad taste in decoration; everything loud pleased her, and
sometimes when Caesar laughed, she would say:

"I know I am a crazy country girl. You must tell me how to fix things."

Caesar decided the arrangement of a little reception-room. He chose
a light paper for the walls, some coloured engravings, and Empire
furniture. Female friends found the room very well done. Amparito used
to tell them:

"Yes, Caesar had it done like this," as if that were a weighty argument
with everybody.

Amparito and her father persuaded Caesar that he ought to open an
office. All the people in Castro lamented that Caesar did not practise

He had always felt a great repugnance for that sharpers' and skinflints'
business; but he yielded to please Amparito, and set up his office and
took an assistant who was very skillful in legal tricks. Caesar was often
to be found writing in the office, when Amparito opened the door.

"Do you want to come here a moment?" she would say.

"Yes. What is it?"

"Look and see how this hat suits me. How do you like it?"

Caesar would laugh and say:

"I think you ought to take off the flowers, or it ought to be smaller."

Amparito accepted Caesar's suggestions as if they had been, articles of

Caesar, on his part, had a great admiration for his wife. What strength
for facing life! What amazing energy!

"I walk among brambles and leave a piece of my clothing on every one of
them," thought Caesar, "and she passes artlessly between all obstacles,
with the ease of an ethereal thing. It's extraordinary!"

It pleased Amparito to be thus observed.

Her husband used to tell her:

"You have, as it were, ten or twelve Amparitos inside of you; it often
seems to me that you are a whole round of Amparitos."

"Well, you are not more than one Caesar to me."

"That's because I have the ugly vice of talking and of being

"Don't I talk?"

"Yes, in another way."


In the spring they went to Castro, and the members of the Workmen's Club
presented themselves before Caesar to remind him of a project for a
Co-operative and a School, which he had promised them. They were all
ready to put up what was necessary for realizing both plans.

Caesar listened to them, and although with great coldness, said yes,
that he was ready to initiate the scheme. A few days later, in Dr.
Ortigosa's _Protest_, there was enthusiastic talk of the Great
Co-operative, which, when established, would improve, and at the same
time cheapen necessary articles.

The same day that the paper came out with this news, a commission of the
shopkeepers of Castro waited on Caesar. The scheme would ruin them. It
was especially the small shopkeepers that considered themselves most

Caesar replied that he would think it over and decide in an equitable
manner, looking for a way to harmonize the interests of all people.
Really he didn't know what to do, and as he had no great desire to begin
new undertakings, he wanted to call the Co-operative dead, but Dr.
Ortigosa was not disposed to abandon the idea.

"It is certain that if goods are made cheaper," said the doctor, "and
the Co-operative is opened to the public, the shopkeepers will have to
fight it, and then either they or we shall be ruined; but something else
can be done, and that is to sell articles to the public at the same
price as the tradesmen, and arrange it that members get a dividend from
the profits of the society. In that way there will be no fight, at any
rate not at first."

They tried to do it that way, but it did not satisfy the poor people, or
calm the shopkeepers.

Caesar, who had lost his lust for a fight, put the scheme aside; and
although it would cost him more, decided to have the construction of the
school begun.

The Municipality ceded the lot and granted a subsidy of five thousand
pesetas to start the work; Caesar gave ten thousand, and at the
Workmen's Club a subscription was opened, and performances were given in
the theatre to collect funds.

The school promised to be a spacious edifice with a beautiful garden.
The corner-stone was laid in the presence of the Governor of the
Province, and despite the fact that the founders' intention was to found
a lay school, the Clerical element took part in the celebration.

When the work began, the majority of the members of the Club were
shocked to find that the masons, instead of working on the same
conditions as for other jobs, asked more pay, as if the school where
their sons might study were an institution more harmful than beneficial
for them.

Caesar, on learning this, smiled bitterly and said:

"They are not obliged to be less of brutes than the bourgeoisie."

From Madrid Caesar continued sending maps for the school, engravings,
bas-reliefs, a moving-picture machine.

Dr. Ortigosa and his friends went every day to look over the work.

A year from the beginning of work, the boys and girls' school was
opened. Dr. Ortigosa succeeded in arranging that two of the three male
teachers they procured were Free-Thinkers. One of them, a poor man who
had lived a dog's life in some town in Andalusia, was reputed to be an
anarchist. They appointed three female teachers too, two old, and one
young, a very attractive and clever girl, who came from a town near

Caesar took part in the opening, and spoke, and received enthusiastic
applause. Despite which, Caesar felt ill at ease among his old friends;
in his heart he knew that he was deserting them. He now thought it
unlikely, almost impossible, that that town should succeed in emerging
from obscurity and meaning something in modern life. Moreover, he
doubted about himself, began to think that he was not a hero, began to
believe that he had assigned himself a role beyond his powers; and this
precisely at the moment when the town had the most faith in him.




"Driveller" Juan, the town dandy protected by Father Martin, had from
childhood distinguished himself by his cowardice and by his tendency to
bullying. His appearance was that of an idiot; people said he drivelled;
whence they gave him the nickname of "Driveller" Juan. He lived by
pretending to be terrible in the gambling houses, and bragged of having
been in prison several times.

The Clericals had made "Driveller" the janitor of the Benevolent
Society, and at the same time its bully, so that he could inspire
terror; but as he was a coward in reality, and this was evident, he did
not succeed in terrifying the members of the Workmen's Club.

"Driveller" Juan was tall, red-headed, with high cheek bones, knotty
hands, and a pendulous lip; his father, like him, had been bony and
strong, and for that reason had been called "Big Bones."

"Driveller," like the coward he was, knew that he was not filling his
job; one day he had dared to go to a ball at the Workmen's Club, and San
Roman, the old Republican, had gone to him and tapped him on the arm,

"Listen here, 'Driveller,' get out right now and don't you come back."

"Why should I?"

"Because you are not wanted."

Juan had gone away like a whipped dog. "Driveller" wanted to do a manly
action, and he did it.

There was a boy belonging to the Workmen's Club, who was called
"Lengthy," one of the few type-setters in the town, a clever, facetious
lad who now and then wrote an article for _The Protest_.

"Driveller" insisted that "Lengthy" wanted to make fun of him. No doubt
he chose him for his victim, because he was so slim, lanky, and weak;
perhaps he had some other reason for attacking him. One afternoon,
at twilight, "Driveller" halted "Lengthy," demanded an explanation,
insulted him, and on finding his victim made no reply, gave him a blow.
The street was wet, and "Driveller" stepped on a fruit-skin and fell
headlong. Seeing the bully infuriated, "Lengthy" started to run, came to
an open door, and ran rapidly up the stairs. "Driveller," furious, ran
after him. Pursued and pursuer went down a hallway and "Lengthy" managed
to reach a door and close it. "Driveller's" revengeful fury was not
satisfied; he lay in wait until "Lengthy," believing himself alone,
tried to escape from his hiding-place and was walking down the hall,
and then "Driveller" drew his pistol and fired with the mouth against
"Lengthy's" shoulder, and left him dead. As it was a rainy day, both the
dead man's footsteps and the murderer's could be followed and everything
that had happened ascertained.

The impression produced in the town by this assassination was enormous.
Some people said that Father Martin and his followers had ordered
"Lengthy" killed. In the Workmen's Club there was talk of setting fire
to the Benevolent Society of Saint Joseph and of burning the monastery
of la Pena.

Caesar was in Madrid at the time of the crime. Some days later a
committee from the Club came to see him; it was necessary to have a
charge pushed and for Caesar to be the private attorney.

According to the Club people, the Clericals wanted to save "Driveller"
Juan, and if he was not disposed of completely, he would begin his
performances again.

Caesar could see nothing for it but to accept the duty which the town
put upon him.

Because of the crime, the history of "Driveller's" family came to be
public property. He had a mother and two sisters who were seamstresses,
whom he exploited, and he lived with a tavern-keeper nicknamed "The
Cub-Slut," a buxom, malicious woman, who said horrible things about

* * * * *


There were reasons for "The Cub-Slut's" being what she was. Her parents
being dead when she was a baby, having no relatives she had been left
deserted. A farrier they called "Gaffer," who seemed to have been a
kind person, took in the infant and brought her up in his house. It was
"Gaffer" who had given the nickname to the child, because instead of
calling her by her name, he used to say:

"Hey, 'Cub-Slut!' Hey, little 'Cub-Slut!'" and the appellation had

When the girl was fourteen, "Gaffer" ravished her, and afterwards, being
tired of her, took her to a house of prostitution in the Capital and
sold her. "The Cub-Slut" left the brothel to go and live with an old
innkeeper, who died and made her his heiress. Six years later she went
back to Castro. Those that had seen her come back maintained that when
she reached the town and was told that "Gaffer" had died a few months
before, she burst into tears; some said it was from sentiment, but
others thought, very plausibly, that it was from rage at not being able
to get revenge. "The Cub-Slut" set up a tavern at Castro.

"Driveller" and "The Cub-Slut" got along well, although, by what any one
could discover, "The Cub-Slut" treated the bully more like a servant
than anything else.

"The Cub-Slut" was said to be very outspoken. One Sunday, on the
promenade, she had answered one of the young ladies of Castro rudely.
The young lady was the daughter of a millionaire, who had married after
having several children by a mistress of pretty bad reputation. The
millionaire's children had been educated in aristocratic schools, and
his girls were very elegant young ladies; even the mother got to be
refined and polished. One Sunday, on the promenade, one of them, on
passing near "The Cub-Slut," said in a low tone to her mother:

"Dear Lord, what riff-raff!"

And "The Cub-Slut," hearing her, stopped and said violently:

"There's no riff-raff here except your mother and me. Now you know it."

The young lady was so upset by the harsh retort that she didn't leave
the house again for a long while.

Such rude candour on "The Cub-Slut's" part had made her feared; so that
nobody durst provoke her in the slightest degree. Besides, her history
and her misfortune were known and people knew that she was not a vicious
woman, but rather a victim of fate.

The assassination of "Lengthy" was one of those events that are not
forgotten in a town. "Lengthy" was the son of "Gaffer," "The Cub-Slut's"
protector, and some people imagined that she had persuaded "Driveller"
to commit the crime; but the members of the Workmen's Club continued to
believe that it was a case of clerical revenge.


In the month of June, Caesar and Amparito went to Castro Duro.

One afternoon when Caesar was alone in the garden, a very buxom woman
appeared before him, wearing a mantilla and dressed in black.

"I came in without anybody seeing me," she said. "Your porter, 'Wild
Piglet,' let me pass. I know that Amparito is not here."

She didn't say "Your wife," or "Your lady," but "Amparito."

"Tell me what you want," said Caesar, looking at the woman with a
certain dread.

"I am the woman that lives with 'Driveller' Juan."

"Ah! You are...?" "Yes. 'The Cub-Slut.'"

Caesar looked at her attentively. She was of the aquiline type seen on
Iberian coins, her nose arched, eyes big and black, thin-lipped mouth,
and a protruding chin. She noticed his scrutiny, and stood as if on her

"Sit down, if you will, please, and tell me what you wish."

"I am all right," she replied, continuing to stand; then, precipitately,
she said, "What I want is for them not to punish Juan more than is

"I don't believe he will be punished unjustly," responded Caesar.

"The whole town says that if you speak against him in court, the
punishment will be heavier."

"And you want me not to speak?"

"That's it."

"It seems to me to be asking too much. I shall do no more than insist
that they punish him justly."

"There is no way to get out of it?"


"If you wanted to ... I would wait on you on my knees afterwards, I
would make any sacrifice for you."

"Are you so fond of the man?"

"The Cub-Slut" answered in the negative, by an energetic movement of her

"Well, then, what do you expect to get out of him?"

"I expect revenge."

"The Cub-Slut's" eyes flashed.

"Is what they say about you true?" asked Caesar.


"The dead boy was the son of the man that sold you?"


"But to revenge oneself on the son for the sin of the father is

"The son was just as wicked as the father."

"So that you ordered him killed?"

"Yes, I did."

"And you come and tell that to me, when I am to be the private
attorney." "Have them arrest me. I don't care."

"The Cub-Slut" stood firm before Caesar, provocative, with flashing
eyes, in an attitude of challenge.

"You hated that dead boy so much as this?"

"Yes, him and all his family."

"I can understand that if the father were alive, you might..."

"If he were alive! I would give my life to drag him out of his tomb, so
as to make him suffer as much as he made me suffer."

Caesar vaguely remembered the story he had heard about this woman, whose
adopted father had ruined her and then left her in a disreputable house
in the Capital. In general, the most absolute lack of apprehension
characterizes such village tragedies, and neither does the victim know
she is a victim, nor the villain that he is a villain.

But in this case, judging by what "The Cub-Slut" was telling him, it
had not been so; "Gaffer" had gone about it with a certain depravity,
glutting his desires on her, and then selling her, putting her into an
infamous house. The villain had been cruel and intelligent; the victim
had realized that she was one, to the degree that her soul was filled
with desires for vengeance.

"That man," "The Cub-Slut" ended, sobbing, "took away my name and gave
me a nickname; took away my honour, my life, everything; and if I
cannot be revenged on him because he is dead, I will be revenged on his

Caesar listened attentively to the woman's explanation, without
interrupting her. Then, when she had finished speaking, he said:

"And why not go away?"

"Away? Where?" she asked, astonished.

"Anywhere. The world is so big! Why do you persist in living in the one
spot where people know you and have a bad opinion of you? Go away from
here. There are countries with more generous sentiments than these old
corners of the world. You do not consider yourself infamous or vile."

"No, no."

"Then go away from here. To America, to Australia, anywhere. Perhaps
you can reconstruct your life. At any rate, nobody will call you by your
nickname; nobody will talk familiarly to you. You will conquer or you
will be conquered in the struggle for life. That's evident. You will
share the common lot, but you will not be vilified. Do go."

"The Cub-Slut" listened to Caesar with eyes cast down. When he ceased,
she stood looking at him intently, and then, without a word, she




Some days later Caesar was in his office, when a thin old woman, dressed
in black, shot in, crossed the room, and fell on her knees before him.
Caesar jumped up in disgust.

"What's this? What's going on here?" he asked.

Amparito entered the room and explained what was going on. The old woman
was "Driveller" Juan's mother. People had told Juan's mother that the
only obstacle to her son's salvation from death was Caesar, and she had
come to implore him not to let them condemn Juan to death.

"My poor son is a good boy," moaned the old creature; "a woman made him
commit the crime."

Caesar listened, silent and gloomy, without speaking, and then left the
room. Amparito remained with the old woman, consoling her and trying to
quiet her.

That night Amparito returned to the task, and dragged the promise from
her husband that he would not act as private attorney at the trial.

Caesar was ashamed and saddened; he didn't care to go to see anybody; he
was committing treason against his cause.

"Pity will finish my work or finish me," thought Caesar, walking
about his room. "That poor old woman is worthy of compassion; that is
undeniable. She believes her son is a good boy, and he really is a low,
cowardly ruffian. I ought not to pay any attention to this plea, but
insist on their condemning that miserable wretch to death. But I haven't
any more energy; I haven't any more strength. I can feel that I am going
to yield; the mother's grief moves me, and I do not consider that if
this bully goes free, he is going to turn the town upside down and ruin
all our work. I am lost."


Caesar confided to his wife that he was daunted; his lack of courage was
a nightmare to him.

Amparito said that they ought to take a long trip. Laura had invited
them to come to Italy. It was the best thing they could do.

Caesar accepted her solution, and, as a matter of fact, they went to
Madrid and from there to Italy.

The Workmen's Club telegraphed to Caesar when the time for the trial
came, and Amparito answered the telegram from Florence, saying that her
husband was ill.

Never had Caesar felt so agitated as then. He bought the Spanish
newspapers, and expected to find in some one of them the words: "Senor
Moncada is a coward," or "Senor Moncada is a sorry creature and a

When they knew that judgment had been pronounced and Juan condemned to
eight years in the penitentiary, they returned to Madrid.

Caesar felt humiliated and ashamed; he did not dare show himself in
Castro. The congratulations that some people sent him on the restoration
of his health made his cheeks hot with shame in the solitude of his

The editor of a newspaper in the Capital of the Province came to call on
Caesar, who was so dispirited that he confided to his visitor that he
was ready to retire from politics. Two days later Caesar saw a big
headline on the first page of the Conservative newspaper of the Capital,
which said: "Moncada is about to retire."

Amparito applauded her husband's decision, and Caesar made melancholy
plans for the future, founded on the renunciation of all struggle.

A few days later Caesar received a letter from Castro Duro which made
him quiver. It was signed by Dr. Ortigosa, by San Roman, Camacho, the
apothecary, and the leading members of the Workmen's Club. The letter
was in the doctor's handwriting. It read thus:

"Dear Sir: We have read in the newspaper from the Capital the
announcement that you are thinking of retiring from politics. We believe
this announcement is not true. We cannot think that you, the champion of
liberty in Castro Duro, would abandon so noble a cause, and leave the
town exposed to the intrigues and the evil tricks of the Clericals.
There is no question in this of whether it would suit you better to
retire from politics, or not. That is of no importance. There is a
question of what would suit our country and Liberty better.

"If because of the seductions of an easy life, you should withdraw
from us and desert us, you would have committed the crime of
lese-civilization; you would have slain in its flower the re-birth of
the spiritual and civic life of Castro.

"We do not believe you capable of such cowardice and such infamy, and
since we do not believe you capable of it, we beg you to come to
Castro Duro as soon as possible to direct the approaching municipal
elections.--Dr. Ortigosa, Antonio San Roman, Jose Camacho."

On reading this letter Caesar felt as if he had been struck with a whip.
Those men were correct; he had no right to retire from the fight.

This conviction supported him.

"I have to go to Castro," he said to Amparito.

"But didn't you say that...?"

"Yes, but it is impossible."

Amparito realized that her husband's decision was final, and she said:

"All right; let us go to Castro."



The Conservatives had come into power; the time to change the town
government was approaching. It was customary at Castro, as in all rural
districts in Spain, that in a period of Liberal administration the
majority of the councillors elected should be Liberal, and at a time of
Conservative government, they should be Conservative.

The former Liberal, Garcia Padilla, had gone over to the Conservative
camp, and one was now to see whether he would get his friends into the
Municipality so as to prepare for his own election as Deputy later.

It was the first time there was going to be a real election at Castro
Duro. Moncada's candidates were almost all persons of good position.
Dr. Ortigosa and a Socialist weaver figured among the candidates, as
representing the revolutionary tendency. The Liberals felt and showed an
unusual activity and anxiety. Caesar started a newspaper which he named
Liberty, Dr. Ortigosa was the soul of this paper, whose doctrines ran
from Liberal Monarchy to Anarchy, inclusive. As the election drew
nearer, the agitation increased.

In the two electoral headquarters established by Moncada's party, the
coming and going never stopped; some enthusiastic Moncadists came to
headquarters every fifteen minutes, to bring rumours going about and to
get news.

Don So-and-So had said this; Uncle What's-His-Name was thinking of doing
that; it was nothing but conferences and machinations. The painter had
painted for them gratis a big poster expressing cheers for Liberty,
for Moncada, Dr. Ortigosa, and the Liberal candidates. The cafe keeper
brought chairs, without any one's asking him; somebody else brought a
brasier for the clerks; everybody was anxious to do something. The stock
phrase, an electoral battle, was not for them a political commonplace
but a reality. The most trivial things served as a motive for very
long discussions. Such was their identification with the Idea, that
it succeeded in wiping out selfish ends. They all felt honoured and
enthusiastic, at least while it lasted.

People dreamed of the election.

When Caesar arrived at the electoral headquarters, it was always a
series of exclamations, of embracing, of advice, that never ended.

"Don Caesar, such a thing is ... Don Caesar, don't trust So-and-So."

"We must get rid of them."

"Not one of them ought to be left."

He used to smile, because finding himself really loved by the people had
cleansed him of his habitual bitterness and his loss of spirits. When he
had finished receiving recommendations and congratulations, he would
go to an inside room, and there, in the company of a candidate or a
secretary, would read letters and arrange what they had to do.

The most active of the candidates was Dr. Ortigosa.

Ortigosa was a narrow-minded, tenacious man. His chief hatred was for
Catholicism and he directed all his attacks at the religion of his
forefathers, as he ironically termed it.

He had founded a Masonic lodge, named the "Microbe," and whose principal
characteristic was anti-Catholicism.

Ortigosa carried his propaganda everywhere. He stopped at every corner
to speechify, to talk of his plans.

Caesar used his motor-car to go about among the villages in the
district. They would go to four or five and talk from balconies, or very
often from the car, like itinerant patent-medicine venders.

In the little villages these reunions produced a great effect. What was
said served as a topic of conversation for a month.

Caesar had developed a clear, insinuating eloquence. He knew how to
explain things admirably. Padilla's followers were not asleep; but, as
was natural, they took up the work in another way. They went from shop
to shop, making the shopkeepers see the harmfulness of the Moncadist
politics, promising them advantages. They threatened workmen with
dismissal. There was no great enthusiasm; their campaign was less noisy,
but, in part more certain.

All the Liberal element of Castro was wrought up, from the temperate
Liberals, who remembered Espartero, to the Anarchists. "Whiskers" and
"Furibis" were the only ones who got together in a tavern to talk about
bombs and dynamite, and one could be sure that neither of them was
capable of anything. Those two had nothing more to do with Ortigosa,
considering him a deserter.

"You are imbeciles," the doctor told them, with his habitual fury.
"This fight is waking the people up. They are beginning to show their
instincts, and that makes a man strong. The longer and more violent this
fight is, the better; progress will be so much quicker."

"Agitation, agitation is what we need," cried the doctor; and he himself
was as agitated as a man condemned.

The Liberals won a great victory; they obtained eight places out of ten



The new city government of Castro was the most extraordinary that could
be imagined. Dr. Ortigosa presented motions which caused the greatest
astonishment and stupefaction, not only in the town, but in the whole
province. He conceived magnificent plans and extravagant ideas. He asked
to have the teaching system changed, religious festivals suppressed and
other ones instituted, property abolished, public baths installed, and
that Castro Duro should break with Rome.

The doctor was a creature born to succeed those revolutionary eagle-men,
like Robespierre and Saint Just, and condemned to live in a miserable

One day when Caesar was working in his office, he was astounded to see
Father Martin enter.

Father Martin greeted Caesar like an old acquaintance; he had come to
ask him a favour. Suspicious, Caesar prepared to listen. After speaking
of the business that had brought him, the friar began to criticize the
town-government of Castro and to say that it was a veritable mad-house.

"Your friends," said the priest, smiling, "are unrestrained. They want
to change everything in three days. Dr. Ortigosa is a crazy man...."

"To my mind, he is the only man in Castro that deserves my estimation."



"This demoniac says that for him traditions have no value whatsoever."

"Oh! I think the same thing," said Caesar. "Are you anti-historic?"

"Yes, sir."

"I don't believe it."

"Absolutely. Tradition has no value for me either."

"The basis of tradition," answered the friar, arguing like a man who
carries the whole of human knowledge in the pocket of his habit, "is the
confidence we all have in the experience of our predecessors. Whether I
be a labourer or a pastor, even though I have lived fifty years, I may
have great experience about my work and about life, but it will never be
so great as the united experience of all those who have preceded me. Can
I scorn the accumulation of wisdom that past generations hand down to

"If you wish me to tell you the truth, for me your argument has no
weight," answered Caesar coldly.


"No. It is undeniable that there is a sum of knowledge that comes from
father to son, from one labourer to another, and from one pastor to
another. But what value have these rudimentary, vague experiences,
compared to the united experience of all the men of science there have
been in the world? It is as if you told me that the stock of knowledge
of a quack was greater and better than that of a wise physician."

"I am not talking," answered the Father, "of pure science. I am talking
of applied science. Is one of your universal savants going to occupy
himself with the way of sowing or of threshing in Castro?"

"Yes. He has already occupied himself with it, because he has occupied
himself with the way of sowing or threshing in general, and, what is
more, with the variations in the processes that may be occasioned by the
kind of soil, the climate, etc."

"And do you believe that such scientific pragmatism can be substituted
for the natural pragmatism born of the people's loins, created by them
through centuries and centuries of life?"

"Yes. That is to say, I believe it can purify it; that it can cast out
of this pragmatism, as you call it, all that is wrong, absurd, and false
and keep what good there may be." "And for you the absurd and false is
Catholic morality."

"It is."

"You are not willing to discuss whether Catholicism is true or is a lie;
you consider it a ruinous doctrine which produces decadence. I have been
told that you have stated that on various occasions."

"It is true. I have said so."

"Then we do not agree. Catholicism is useful; Catholicism is efficient."

"For what? For this life?"


"No. Pshaw! It may be useful when it comes to dying? Where there is
Catholicism there is ruin and misery."

"Nevertheless, there is no misery in Belgium."

"Certainly there is none, but in that country Catholicism is not what it
is in Spain."

"Of course it isn't," exclaimed the friar, shouting, "because what
characterizes Spanish Catholicism is Spain, poverty-stricken, fanatic
Spain, and not the Catholicism."

"I do not believe we are going to understand each other," replied
Caesar; "what seems a cause to me is an effect for you.... Besides,
we are getting away from the question. To you Castro's moral and
intellectual state seems good, does it not?"


"Well, to me it seems horrifying. Sordid vice, obscure adultery;
gambling, bullying, usury, hunger... You think it ought to keep on being
just as it was before I was Deputy for the District. Do you not?"

"I do."

"That I have been a disturbance, an enemy to public tranquillity."


"Well, this state of things that you find admirable, seems to me
bestially fanatical, repugnantly immoral, repulsively vile."

"Of course, for you are a pessimist about things as they are, like any
good revolutionist. You believe that you are going to improve life at
Castro. You alone?" "I, united with others."

"And meanwhile you introduce anarchy into the city."

"I introduce anarchy! No. I introduce order. I want to finish with the
anarchy already reigning in Castro and make it submit to a thought, to a
worthy, noble thought."

"And by what right do you arrogate to yourself the power to do this?"

"By the right of being the stronger."

"Ah! Good. If you should get to be the weaker, you ought not to complain
if we should misuse our strength."

"Complain! When you have been misusing it for thousands of years! At
this very moment, we do the talking, we make the protests, but you
people give the orders."

"We offset your idiotic behaviour. We stand in the way of your utopias.
Do you think you are going to solve the problem of this earth, and that
of Capital? Are you going to solve the sexual question? Are you going
to institute a society without inequality or injustice, as Dr. Ortigosa
said in _La Libertad_ the other day? To me it seems very difficult."

"To me too. But that is what there is to try for."

"And when will you attain so perfect an arrangement, so great a harmony,
as the Catholic, created in twenty centuries? When?"

"We shall attain a different, better harmony."

"Oh, I doubt it."

"Naturally. That is just what the pagans might have said to the
Christians; and perhaps with reason, because Christianity, compared to
paganism, was a retrogression."

"That point we cannot discuss," said Father Lafuerza, getting up.

Caesar got up too.

"In spite of all this, I admire you, because I believe you are sincere,"
said Father Martin. "But I believe you to be dangerous and I should be
happy to get you out of Castro."

"I feel the same way about you, and I should also be happy to get you
out of here, as an unwholesome element."

"So that we are open, loyal enemies." "Loyal! Pshaw! We are ready to do
each other all the harm possible."

"For my part, yes, and in any way," announced the priest with energy.

"I, too," Caesar answered; and he raised the curtain of the office door.

"Don't disturb yourself," said Father Martin.

"Oh, it's no trouble."

"Regards to Amparito."

"Thank you."

The friar hesitated about going out, as if he wanted to return to the

"Afterwards, if you repent..." he said.

"I shall not repent," Caesar coldly replied.

"I will drink peace to you."

"Yes, if I submit. I will drink peace to you too, if I submit."

"You are going to play a dangerous game."

"It will be no less dangerous for you than for me."

"You are playing for your head."

"Pshaw! We will play for it and win it."

The friar bowed, and smiling in a forced manner, left the house.



The Conservatives at Castro Duro were ready to commit the greatest
outrages and the most arbitrary acts so as to win by any methods.

It was known that a committee consisting of Garcia Padilla, Father
Martin Lafuerza, and two Conservative councillors had gone to the
Minister of the Interior to beg that Caesar's victory might be prevented
by whatsoever means.

"It is necessary that Don Caesar Moncada should not be elected for the
District," said Father Martin. "If he is, the town will remain subjected
to a revolutionary dictatorship. All the Conservative classes, the
merchants, the religious communities, fervently hope that Moncada will
not be made Deputy."

The committee of Castrians visited other high personages, and they
must have attained their object, because the municipal government
was suspended a few days later, the Workmen's Club closed, the judge
transferred, the Civil Guard was reinforced, and a police inspector
of the worst antecedents was detailed to Castro as commissioner of

The Governor of the Province, a political enemy of Caesar's, was a
personal friend of his.

"For your sake I am ready to lose my future," he had said to him, "but
as for your followers, there is nothing left for me to do but knock them
over the head."

_La Libertad_, Caesar's newspaper, made a very violent campaign against
Garcia Padilla. Ortigosa succeeded in finding out that Padilla had been
tried for embezzlement, and he published that fact. The _Castro News_,
on its side, insulted Caesar and called him a crooked speculator on the
exchange, an upstart, and an atheist.

The rapidity and violence of the Government's methods produced an effect
of fear on lukewarm Liberals; on the other hand, it moved the decided
ones to show themselves all the more courageous and rash.

Moncada's party almost immediately took on a revolutionary character.
The lodge, "The Microbe," was at work, and the most radical arrangements
started there. It suited the Government and the Conservatives to have
the Moncada party take this demagogic character. The commissioner had
contaminating persons come on from the Capital for the purpose of sowing
discord in the Workmen's Club.

These suspicious persons, directed by one they called "Sparkler," used
to gather in the taverns to corrupt the workmen and the peasants,
carrying on a propaganda that was anarchistic in appearance, but in
reality anti-liberal.

"They are all the same," they used to say; "Liberals and Conservatives
are not a bit different."

The drunkards and vagabonds were in their glory during those days,
eating and drinking. Nobody knew for certain where the money came from,
but everybody could make certain that it flowed profusely.

At the same time the commissioner had the most prominent workmen of the
Club arrested and brought suit against them on ridiculous accusations.


The Liberals tried to hold a manifestation in protest, but the
commissioner and the mayor prohibited it.

The newspaper _La Libertad_ explained what was going on, and was

A meeting was organized at the school; the governor had granted

The school was not lighted, and Caesar sent a man to the Capital for
acetylene lamps, which were put up on the walls, and which made a
detestable smell. The reunion took place at nine at night. Caesar
presided, and had San Roman, the bookseller, on his right, and Dr.
Ortigosa on his left.

Behind them on a bench were some of the members of the Workmen's Club.

The audience was composed of the poorest people; the rich Liberal
element was drawing back; there were day-labourers with blankets around
their shoulders and mouths, women in shawls holding children in their
arms. Among the audience were the _agents provocateurs_ who doubtless
had the intention of making a disturbance; but the Republican bookseller
ordered them thrown out of the place, and, despite their resistance, he
managed to have it done.

The chief of police, insolent and contemptuous, took his seat at the
table with an officer of the Civil Guard in civilian's, who was there,
he said, to take notes.

San Roman, the bookseller, gave Caesar a paper with the names of those
who were going to speak. They were many, and Caesar didn't know them.

The first to whom he gave the floor, in the order of the list, was a
lame boy, who came forward on a crutch, and began to speak.

The boy expressed himself with great enthusiasm and admirable candour.

"Who is this youngster?" Caesar asked San Roman.

"He is the best pupil in our school. We call him 'Limpy.' He comes of a
very poor family. He came to the school a year ago, knowing nothing,
and see him now. He says, and I think he is right, that if he keeps on
studying, he will be an eminent man."

The audience applauded everything "Limpy" said, and when he finished
they hailed him with shouts and cheers. As he went back to his seat,
Caesar and San Roman shook his hand effusively.


After "Limpy," various orators spoke, in divers keys: "Furibis," "Uncle
Chinaman," "Panza," San Roman, a weaver, a railway employee, and Dr.
Ortigosa. The last-named let loose, and launched into such violent terms
that the audience shouted in horrified excitement. Caesar's speech
recommended firmness, and caused scarcely any reaction. The note had
been given by "Limpy," with his ingenuousness and his appealing quality,
and by the doctor with the violence of his words.

The next day the Governor's commissioner gave orders to close the
school, and Dr. Ortigosa and San Roman were taken to jail.


It was impossible to carry on a campaign of popular agitation, and
Caesar decided to open a headquarters for propaganda next door to each
voting place.

Meetings in the villages had been suppressed, because at the least
alarm, or even without any motive, the chief of police, with members of
the Civil Guard, went in among the people and dispersed them by shoving
and by pounding rifles on their feet.

The newspapers couldn't say anything without being immediately reported
and suspended.

Caesar sent no telegrams of protest, but he kept at work silently. He
was thinking of using all weapons, including even trickery and bribes.

Garcia Padilla and the Government agents found this proceeding even more
dangerous than the former. Caesar offered twenty dollars to anybody that
would give information of any electoral sharp practices which could be
proved. The week of the election he and his friends did not rest.

At one of the polls in Carrascal, where Caesar had a majority, the tile
bearing the house-number had been changed by night. The real voters had
to wait to cast their votes in one place, and meanwhile the urn was
being filled with ballots for the Government candidate at another place.

In the hamlet of Val de San Gil, another trick was tried; the polling
place was established in a hay-loft to which one went up by a ladder.
While the villagers were waiting for the ladder to be set up, the urn
was being filled. When the ladder was put into place and the voters went
up one by one, they found that they had all voted already. As the ladder
was narrow, they had to go up singly, and it was not likely they would
have ventured to protest. Besides, there were a number of ruffians in
the place, armed with sticks and pistols, who were ready to club or to
shoot any one protesting.

In spite of all, Caesar had the election won, always supposing that the
Government did not carry things to the limit; but at the last moment he
learned that more Civil Guards were going to come to Castro, and that
the Government agents had orders to prevent Moncada's victory by any

In the evening on Saturday, Caesar was told that the commissioner was
in a tavern, with others of the police, giving out ballots for illegal
voters. Caesar went there alone, and entered the tavern.

The commissioner, on seeing him, grew confused.

"I know what you are doing," said Caesar. "Be careful, because it may
cost you a term in prison."

"You are the one that may have to pay by going to prison," replied the

"Just try to arrest me, you poor fool, and I'll shoot your head off!"

The police inspector jumped up from the table where he was seated, and,
as he went out, he let one of the ballots fall. Caesar looked over the
men who were with the police inspector; one of them was "Sparkler." Some
days before he had come to Moncada's headquarters to offer to work for
him, and he was the director of the contaminating persons sent to Castro
by the Government.


When he returned to the headquarters, they told him there was a meeting
in "Furibis's" tavern at nine that night. Caesar got there a little
later than the time set. The place was gloomy, and had some big earthen
jars in it. They had put a table at the back of this cave, and an
acetylene light illuminated it.

Those present formed a semicircle around the table.

Caesar knocked at the tavern, and they opened the door to him; a workman
who was speaking delayed his peroration, and they waited until Caesar
had reached the table and got seated. The atmosphere was suffocating.
Everything was closed so that the Civil Guards would not see the light
through the windows and suspect that there was a meeting being
held there. The workmen were, for the most part, masons, weavers,
brickmakers. There were women there with their little ones asleep in
their bosoms. The air one breathed there was horrible. It looked like
a gathering of desperate people. They had learned that their arrested
comrades had been beaten in the prison, and that San Roman and Dr.
Ortigosa were in the infirmary as a result.


The excitement among those present was terrible. "Limpy" was the most
strenuous; he was in favour of their all going out that moment and
storming the jail.

When they had all spoken, Caesar got up and asked them to wait. If he
won the election the next day, he promised them that the prisoners
should be freed immediately; if he did not win and the prisoners
remained there...

"Then what is to be done?" said a voice.

"What is to be done? I am in favour of violence," answered Caesar;
"burning the jail, setting fire to the whole town; I am ready for

At that moment he really did think he had been too lenient.

"Man's first duty is to break the law," he shouted, "when it is a bad
law. Everything is due to violence and war. I will go to the post of
danger this very second, whenever you wish. Shall we storm the jail?
Let's go right now."

This storming of the jail didn't seem an easy thing to the others. One
might try to climb down the hill and surprise the prison guards, but it
would be difficult. According to "Furibis," the best thing would be for
ten or twelve of them to go out into the street with guns and pistols
and shoot right and left.

At this disturbance the Civil Guard would come out, and that would be
the moment for the others to enter the jail and drag the prisoners out
into the street.

Some one else said that it seemed better to him for them to approach
the Civil Guards' quarters cautiously, kill the sentinels, and take
possession of the rifles.

"Decide," said Caesar; "I am ready for anything."

Caesar's attitude made the excited ones grow calmer and understand that
it was not so easy to storm the jail.

It was about eleven when the meeting at the tavern ended. They had
decided to wait and see what would happen the next day, and they left
the place one by one.

"We will escort you, Don Caesar," several of them said.

"No. What for?"

"Remember there are people who might attack you. 'Driveller' Juan is at
large in Castro."



"That bully can't do anything to me."

* * * * *


Caesar went out of the tavern, pulled down his hat, and wrapped himself
in his cape. He had not brought the motor, to avoid being recognized. It
was a cloudy night, but still and beautiful.

Before they got out of the town a small boy came up to Caesar.

"'The Cub-Slut' sent me to tell you to come to her house; she wants to
speak to you."

"I will go tomorrow."

"No. You must come now, because what she has to say is very important,"
shouted the youngster.

"Well, I can't go now."

The youngster protested, and Caesar continued on his way. "Limpy" and
"Uncle Chinaman" followed him. Caesar was walking in the middle of the
highway, when, about half way home, a man on the run passed him. No
doubt he was going to give some signal.

"Limpy" and "Chinaman" shouted over and over:

"Don Caesar! Don Caesar!"

Caesar halted, and "Chinaman" and "Limpy" ran up to him.

"What's going on?" asked Caesar.

"They are lying in wait for you," said "Limpy." "Didn't you see a man go
past running?"


"We are going to stay with you. We will sleep at your house," said
"Chinaman," "and if they attack us, we will defend ourselves."

He showed a pistol which he carried in his sash.

The three walked on together, and as they passed a little grove in front
of the palace, a shadow passed by, crawling, and fled away.

"He was there," said "Chinaman."

They went into the house. Amparito, with the old nurse, was praying
before a lighted image.




When he got up, Caesar found a lot of letters and notices from his
followers all over the district, giving him pointers.

With the help of a manservant who used to go about with him, he himself
got the motor ready and prepared to visit the polls.

As he got into the car, the youngster of the night before appeared with
a letter.

"From 'The Cub-Slut'; please read it right away."

"Give it to me; I will read it."

"She told me you were to read it right away."

"Yes, man, yes."

Caesar took the letter and put it distractedly into his pocket. The
motor started and Caesar did not read the note. At eight in the morning
he was on his way to Cidones. The polls had been established legally.

It was raining gently. As he drew near Cidones, the sun appeared. The
river was turbid and mud-coloured. Thick grey fog-clouds were rolling
about the plain; when they gathered below the hill where Caesar stood,
they gave it the appearance of an island in the middle of the sea. From
the chimneys of the town the smoke came out like hanks of spun silver,
and bells were ringing through this Sunday morning calm.

Caesar stopped at an inn which was a little outside the town. The
blacksmith, an old Liberal, came out to receive him. The old man had
been suffering with rheumatism for some while. "How goes it?" Caesar
asked him.

"Very well. I have been to vote for you."

"And your health?"

"Now that spring is coming, one begins to get better."

"Yes, that is true," said Caesar; "I hadn't noticed that the trees are
in bloom."

"Oh, yes, they are out. In a little while we shall have good weather.
It's a consolation for old folks."

Caesar took leave of the blacksmith and got into the motor.

* * * * *


"Yes, spring is in flower," said Caesar. "I will remove all the
obstacles and men's strength will come to life, which is action. This
town, then others, and finally all Spain.... May nothing remain hidden
or closed up; everything come to life, out into the sunlight. I am a
strong man; I am a man of iron; there are no obstacles for me. The
forces of Nature will assist me. Caesar! I must be Caesar!"

The automobile began to move in a straight line toward Castro.

The ground on both sides of the highway fled away rapidly.

The automobile lessened its pace at the foot of the hill, and began to

It went in by an old gate in the wall, which was called the Cart Gate.

The street of the same name, a street in the poor suburb, was narrow
and the houses low; it was paved with cobbles. A little farther along
several lanes formed a crossroads.

This was a quarter of brothels and of gipsies who made baskets.

When he reached the crossroads, in the narrowest part there was a cart
blocking the street. The automobile stopped.

"What's the matter?" asked Caesar, standing up.

At that moment two shots rang out, and Caesar fell wounded into the
bottom of the car. The chauffeur saw that the discharges came from the
low windows of a loom, and backing the motor, he returned rapidly,
passed out the Cart Gate, at risk of running into it, went down to the
highway, and drove at high speed to Caesar's house.

A moment later "Driveller" Juan and "Sparkler" came out of the loom and
disappeared down a lane. The judge who went to take depositions learned
from the chauffeur that Caesar had received a letter as he was getting
into the car. He had the wounded man's clothes searched, and they found
"The Cub-Slut's" letter, in which she warned Caesar of the danger he
was in. Fate had kept Caesar from reading it.

* * * * *


The news that Caesar was seriously wounded ran through the town like a
train of powder.

A movement of terror shook everybody. "Limpy," "Furibis," and the other
hysterical ones gathered at the tavern and agreed to set fire to the
monastery of la Pena. "Furibis" had arms in his house and divided them
among his comrades. A woman fastened a red rag to a stick, and they left
Castro by different paths and met opposite Cidones.

Nine of them went armed, and various others followed behind.

On reaching Cidones, one of the party advanced up the lane and saw two
pairs of Civil Guards. They discussed what they had better do, and the
majority were in favour of going into Moro's inn, which was at the
entrance to the town, and waiting until night.

They did go in there and told Moro what they had just done. The
inn-keeper listened with simulated approval, and brought them wine. This
Moro was not a very commendable party; he had been convicted for robbery
several times and had a bad reputation.

While the revolutionists were drinking and talking, Moro stole out
without any one's noticing, and went to see the chief of the Civil
Guard, and told him what was going on. "They are armed, then?" asked the


"And how many are they?"

"Nine with arms."

"We are only five. Do you want to do something?"

"What is it?"

"At dusk we will pass by the inn. I will knock. And you shall say to
them: 'Here is the chief of the Civil Guard; hide your arms.' They will
hide them, and we will arrest them."

"Shall I get something for doing this favour?" asked Moro.


"What will they give me?"

"You will see."

The ruse worked as they had plotted it; Moro played the comedy to

On learning that the chief of the Civil Guard wanted to come in, the
revolutionists, on the landlord's advice, left their arms in the next
room. At the same instant the window panes burst to bits and the
soldiers of the Civil Guard fired three charges from close up. Two women
and four men fell dead; the wounded, among whom was "Limpy," were taken
to the hospital, and only one person was lucky enough to escape.

* * * * *


At the chief headquarters of Moncada's followers, a strange phenomenon
was noticed; on the preceding days they had been chock full; that night
there were not over ten or a dozen men from the Workmen's Club collected
by a table lighted by a petroleum lamp. The pharmacist, Camacho,

The news of the election was worse every minute. At the last hour the
Padillists, knowing that Moncada was wounded, were behaving horribly. In
the polls at Villamiel the tellers had fled with the blank ballots, and
the Conservative boss arranged the outcome of the election from his

As the teller from Santa Ines, who was a poor Liberal school-master,
was on his way from the hamlet with the papers, six men had seized him,
had snatched the returns from him, changed all the figures, and sent
them to the municipal building at Castro full of blots.

They had fired over twenty shots at the teller for Paralejo. Many
of Moncada's emissaries, on knowing that Caesar was wounded and his
campaign going badly, had passed over to the other party.

Only Moncada could have rallied that flight. His most faithful gave one
another uneasy looks, hoping some one would say: "Come along!" so that
they could all have gone. Camacho alone kept up the spirits of the

At nine o'clock at night the chief of police entered the headquarters,
accompanied by two Civil Guards.

"Close up here, please," said the inspector.

"Why?" asked the pharmacist.

"Because I order you to."

"You have no right to order that."

"No? Here, get out, everybody, and _you_ are under arrest."

Those present took to their heels; the pharmacist went to jail to keep
San Roman and Ortigosa company, and the Club was shut up....

* * * * *

The election was won by Padilla.



The banquet in honour of Padilla was given at the Cafe del Comercio.
All the important persons of the town, many of whom had been Caesar's
adherents the day before, had gathered to feast the victor. The majority
gorged enthusiastically, the chief of police distinguishing himself by
his hearty applause. A fat lawyer presided, a greasy person with a black
beard, a typical coarse, dirty, tricky Moor. Next to him sat a small
attorney, pock-marked, pale of face. By dessert one no longer heard
anything but cries of "Hurrah for Padilla!" among the smoke of the big
cigars they were all smoking.

Then the lawyer with the black beard arose and began to orate.

He spoke slowly and with great solemnity.

"This meeting shows," he said in a strong and sonorous voice, "your
enthusiasm and your loyalty for the good cause. Never, never will
we permit outsiders devoid of religion and patriotism to upset the
existence of our beloved city." (Applause.) "We will defend our
venerated traditions by all the means in our power; we will not permit
the hydra of anarchy to rise up in Castro; and if it should arise
to attack our holy principles, we shall crush it under our heels."
(Applause.) "When men turn their backs on God, when they preach the
relaxation of discipline, and licentiousness, when they are not willing
to acknowledge any authority, divine or human, then it is time for
decent men to form a bulwark with their breasts, for the defence of
their traditions. We are, before all else, Catholics and Spaniards; and
we will not consent to having Anarchists, Masons, sacrilegious persons
get the mastery of this sacred soil, and wipe out its memories, and spot
the most holy rights of our mother, the Church." (Ovation.)

"Hurrah for Jesus Christ and His Immaculate Church!" shouted a priest, a
bit upset by his wine, in a raucous voice.

Next, the fat, greasy lawyer paraded all the glories of Spain, with
their appropriate adjectives: the Cid, Columbus, Isabella the Catholic,
the Great Captain, Hernan Cortes.... Then a couple of dozen orators
spoke, and the meeting ended very late at night.


Today Castro Duro has definitely abandoned her intentions of living, and
return to order, as the weekly Conservative paper says; the fountains
have dried, the school been closed, the little trees in Moncada Park
have been pulled up. The people emigrate every year by hundreds. Today a
mill shuts down, tomorrow a house falls in; but Castro Duro continues
to live with her venerated traditions and her holy principles, not
permitting outsiders devoid of religion and patriotism to disturb her
existence, not spotting the most holy rights of the Church, our mother;
enveloped in dust, in dirt, and in filth, asleep in the sun, in the
midst of her grainless fields.




To be in Castro Duro and not visit Don Caesar Moncada's house is a
veritable crime of _lese-art_. Senor Moncada, who is a most intelligent
person, has gathered in his aristocratic residence a collection of
precious things, old pictures, antiques, sculptures of the XV and
XVI Centuries, badges of the Inquisition. Senor Moneada has made
a conscientious study of the primitive Castilian painters, and is
certainly the person most at home in that line.

His most beautiful wife, who is also a distinguished artist, has aided
him in forming this collection, and they have both gone about by
automobile through all the towns in this province and the neighbouring
ones, collecting everything artistic they found.

At Don Caesar's house we had the pleasure of greeting the learned
Franciscan Father Martin, to whom the population of Castro Duro owes so

At a halt in the conversation we asked Senor Moncada:

"And you, Don Caesar, have no idea of going back into politics?"

And he answered us, smiling:

"No, no. What for? I am nothing, nothing."


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