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The Shadow of the Cathedral by Vicente Blasco Ibanez

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Translated From The Spanish By
Mrs. W.A. Gillespie

With A Critical Introduction By
W.D. Howells


There are three cathedrals which I think will remain chief of the
Spanish cathedrals in the remembrance of the traveller, namely the
Cathedral at Burgos, the Cathedral at Toledo, and the Cathedral at
Seville; and first of these for reasons hitherto of history and art,
and now of fiction, will be the Cathedral at Toledo, which the most
commanding talent among the contemporary Spanish novelists has made
the protagonist of the romance following. I do not mean that Vincent
Blasco Ibanez is greater than Perez Galdos, or Armando Palacio Valdes
or even the Countess Pardo-Bazan; but he belongs to their realistic
order of imagination, and he is easily the first of living European
novelists outside of Spain, with the advantage of superior youth,
freshness of invention and force of characterization. The Russians
have ceased to be actively the masters, and there is no Frenchman,
Englishman, or Scandinavian who counts with Ibanez, and of course no
Italian, American, and, unspeakably, no German.

I scarcely know whether to speak first of this book or the writer of
it, but as I know less of him than of it I may more quickly dispatch
that part of my introduction. He was born at Valencia in 1866, of
Arragonese origin, and of a strictly middle class family. His father
kept a shop, a dry-goods store in fact, but Ibanez, after fit
preparation, studied law in the University of Valencia and was
duly graduated in that science. Apparently he never practiced his
profession, but became a journalist almost immediately. He was
instinctively a revolutionist, and was imprisoned in Barcelona, the
home of revolution, for some political offence, when he was eighteen.
It does not appear whether he committed his popular offence in the
Republican newspaper which he established in Valencia; but it is
certain that he was elected a Republican deputy to the Cortes, where
he became a leader of his party, while yet evidently of no great

He began almost as soon to write fiction of the naturalistic type, and
of a Zolaistic coloring which his Spanish critics find rather stronger
than I have myself seen it. Every young writer forms himself upon some
older writer; nobody begins master; but Ibanez became master while he
was yet no doubt practicing a prentice hand; yet I do not feel very
strongly the Zolaistic influence in his first novel, _La Barraca_,
or The Cabin, which paints peasant life in the region of Valencia,
studied at first hand and probably from personal knowledge. It is
not a very spacious scheme, but in its narrow field it is strictly a
_novela de costumbres_, or novel of manners, as we used to call the
kind. Ibanez has in fact never written anything but novels of manners,
and _La Barraca_ pictures a neighborhood where a stranger takes up a
waste tract of land and tries to make a home for himself and family.
This makes enemies of all his neighbors who after an interval of pity
for the newcomer in the loss of one of his children return to their
cruelty and render the place impossible to him. It is a tragedy such
as naturalism alone can stage and give the effect of life. I have read
few things so touching as this tale of commonest experience which
seems as true to the suffering and defeat of the newcomers, as to the
stupid inhumanity of the neighbors who join, under the lead of the
evillest among them, in driving the strangers away; in fact I know
nothing parallel to it, certainly nothing in English; perhaps _The
House with the Green Shutters_ breathes as great an anguish.

At just what interval or remove the novel which gave Ibanez worldwide
reputation followed this little tale, I cannot say, and it is not
important that I should try to say. But it is worth while to note here
that he never flatters the vices or even the swoier virtues of his
countrymen; and it is much to their honor that they have accepted him
in the love of his art for the sincerity of his dealing with their
conditions. In _Sangre y Arena_ his affair is with the cherished
atrocity which keeps the Spaniards in the era of the gladiator
shows of Rome. The hero, as the renowned _torrero_ whose career it
celebrates, from his first boyish longing to be a bull-fighter, to
his death, weakened by years and wounds, in the arena of Madrid, is
something absolute in characterization. The whole book in fact is
absolute in its fidelity to the general fact it deals with, and the
persons of its powerful drama. Each in his or her place is realized
with an art which leaves one in no doubt of their lifelikeness, and
keeps each as vital as the _torrero_ himself. There is little of the
humor which relieves the pathos of Valdes in the equal fidelity of his
_Marta y Maria_ or the unsurpassable tragedy of Galdos in his _Dona
Perfecta_. The _torrero's_ family who have dreaded his boyish ambition
with the anxiety of good common people, and his devotedly gentle and
beautiful wife,--even his bullying and then truckling brother-in-law
who is ashamed of his profession and then proud of him when it has
filled Spain with his fame,--are made to live in the spacious scene.
But above all in her lust for him and her contempt for him the unique
figure of Dona Sol astounds. She rules him as her brother the marquis
would rule a mistress; even in the abandon of her passion she does not
admit him to social equality; she will not let him speak to her in
thee and thou, he must address her as ladyship; she is monstrous
without ceasing to be a woman of her world, when he dies before her in
the arena a broken and vanquished man. The _torrero_ is morally better
than the aristocrat and he is none the less human though a mere
incident of her wicked life,--her insulted and rejected worshipper,
who yet deserves his fate.

_Sangre y Arena_ is a book of unexampled force and in that sort must
be reckoned the greatest novel of the author, who has neglected no
phase of his varied scene. The _torrero's_ mortal disaster in the
arena is no more important than the action behind the scenes where the
gored horses have their dangling entrails sewed up by the primitive
surgery of the place and are then ridden back into the amphitheatre to
suffer a second agony. No color of the dreadful picture is spared; the
whole thing passes as in the reader's presence before his sight and
his other senses. The book is a masterpiece far in advance of that
study of the common life which Ibanez calls _La Horda_; dealing with
the horde of common poor and those accidents of beauty and talent
as native to them as to the classes called the better. It has the
attraction of the author's frank handling, and the power of the
Spanish scene in which the action passes; but it could not hold me to
the end.

It is only in his latest book that he transcends the Spanish scene and
peoples the wider range from South America to Paris, and from Paris to
the invaded provinces of France with characters proper to the times
and places. _The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse_ has not the rough
textures and rank dyes of the wholly Spanish stories, but it is the
strongest story of the great war known to me, and its loss in the
Parisian figures is made more than good in the novelty and veracity of
the Argentinos who supply that element of internationality which the
North American novelists of a generation ago employed to give a fresh
interest to their work. With the coming of the hero to study art and
make love in the conventional Paris, and the repatriation of his
father, a cattle millionaire of French birth from the pampas, with his
wife and daughters, Ibanez achieves effects beyond the art of Henry
James, below whom he nevertheless falls so far in subtlety and beauty.

The book has moments of the pathos so rich in the work of Galdos and
Valdes, and especially of Emilia Pardo-Bazan in her _Morrina_ or _Home
Sickness_, the story of a peasant girl in Barcelona, but the grief of
the Argentine family for the death of the son and brother in battle
with the Germans, has the appeal of anguish beyond any moment in _La
Catedral_. I do not know just the order of this last-mentioned novel
among the stories of Ibanez, but it has a quality of imagination, of
poetic feeling which surpasses the invention of any other that I have
read, and makes me think it came before _Sangre y Arena_, and possibly
before _La Horda_. I cannot recall any other novel of the author which
is quite so psychological as this. It is in fact a sort of biography,
a personal study, of the mighty fane at Toledo, as if the edifice were
of human quality and could have its life expressed in human terms.
There is nothing forced in the poetic conception, or mechanical in
the execution. The Cathedral is not only a single life, it is a
neighborhood, a city, a world in itself; and its complex character
appears in the nature of the different souls which collectively
animate it. The first of these is the sick and beaten native of it who
comes back to the world which he has never loved or trusted, but in
which he was born and reared. As a son of its faith, Gabriel Luna was
to have been a priest; but before he became a minister of its faith,
it meant almost the same that he should become a Carlist soldier, and
fight on for that cause till it was hopeless. In his French captivity
he loses the faith which was one with the Carlist cause, and in
England he reads Darwin and becomes an evolutionist of the ardor which
the evolutionists have now lost. He wanders over Europe with the
English girl whom he worships with an intellectual rather than
passionate ardor, and after her death he ends at Barcelona in time to
share one of the habitual revolutions of the province and to spend
several years in one of its prisons. When he comes out it is into a
world which he is doomed to leave; he is sick to death and in hopeless
poverty; he has lost the courage of his revolutionary faith if not his
fealty to it; all that he asks of the world is leave to creep out of
it and somewhere die in peace. He thinks of an elder brother who like
himself was born in the precincts of the Cathedral where generations
of their family have lived and died, and his brother does not deny
him. In fact the kind, dull gardener welcomes him to a share of his
poverty, and Gabriel begins dying where he began living. The kindness
between the brothers is as simple in the broken adventurer whose wide
world has failed him as in the aging peasant, pent from his birth in
the Cathedral close, with no knowledge of anything beyond it. All
their kindred who serve in their several sort the stepmother church,
down to the gardener's son whose office is to keep dogs out of the
Cathedral and has the title of _perrero_, are good to the returning
exile. They do not well understand what and where he has been; the
tradition of his gifted youth when he was dedicated to the church and
forsook her service at the altar for her service in the field, remains
unquestioned, and he is safe in the refuge of his family who can offer
mainly their insignificance for his protection. The logic of the fact
is perfect, and Gabriel's emergence from the quiet of his retreat
inevitably follows from the nature of the agitator as the logic of
his own past and has the approval at least of the _perrero_ and the
allegiance of the rest. What is very important in the affair is that
most of the inhabitants of this Cathedral-world, rich and poor, good,
bad, and indifferent, mean and generous, are few of them wicked
people, as wickedness is commonly understood; they all have their
habitual or their occasional moments of good will.

The refugee is tired of his past but he does not deny his faith in
humanity; his doctrine only postpones to a time secularly remote the
redemption of humanity from its secular suffering. He begins at once
to do good; he rescues his kind elder brother from the repudiation of
the daughter whom he has cast off because her seduction has condemned
her to a life of shame; he wins back the poor prostitute to her home,
and forces her father to tolerate her in it.

Most of the Cathedral folk are of course miserably poor, but willing
to be better than they are if they can keep from starving; the fierce
and prepotent Cardinal who is over them all, has moments of the common
good will, when he forgives all his enemies except the recalcitrant
canons. He likes to escape from these, and talk with the elderly
widow of the gardener whom he has known from his boyhood, and to pity
himself in her presence and smoke himself free from, his rancor and
trouble. He is such a prelate as we know historically in enough
instances; but he is pathetic in that simplicity which survives in him
and almost makes good the loss of innocence in Latin souls. He keeps
with him the young girl who is the daughter of his youth, and whom
it cuts him to the soul to have those opprobrious canons imagine his
mistress. He is one out of the many figures that affirm their veracity
in the strange world where they have their being; and he is only the
more vivid as the head of a hierarchy which he rules rather violently
though never ignobly.

But the populace, the underpaid domestics and laborers of the strange
ecclesiastical world in their wretched over-worked lives and hopeless
deaths are what the author presents most vividly. There is the death
of the cobbler's baby which starves at the starving mother's breast
which the author makes us witness in its insupportable pathos, but his
art is not chiefly shown in such extremes: his affair includes the
whole tragical drama of the place, both its beauty and its squalor of
fact, but he keeps central the character of the refugee, Gabriel Luna,
in the allegiance to his past which he cannot throw off. When he
begins to teach the simple denizens of the Cathedral, some of them
hear him gladly, and some indifferently, and some unwillingly, but
none intelligently. He fails with them in that doctrine of patience
which was his failure, as an agitator, with the proletariat wherever
he has been; they could not wait through geological epochs for the
reign of mercy and justice which he could not reasonably promise the
over-worked and underfed multitude to-morrow or the day after. His
brother, who could not accept his teachings, warns him that the
people of the Cathedral will not understand him and cannot accept
his scientific gospel, and for a while he desists. In fact he takes
service in the ceremonial of the Cathedral; he even plays a mechanical
part in the procession of Corpus Christi, and finally he becomes one
of the night-watchmen who guard the temple from the burglaries always
threatening its treasures.

The story is quite without the love-interest which is the prime
attraction of our mostly silly fiction. Gabriel's association with the
English girl who wanders over Europe with him is scarcely passionate
if it is not altogether platonic; his affection for the poor girl for
whom he has won her father's tolerance if not forgiveness becomes
a tender affection, but not possibly more; and there is as little
dramatic incident as love interest in the book. The extraordinary
power of it lies in its fealty to the truth and its insight into
human nature. The reader of course perceives that it is intensely
anti-ecclesiastical, but he could make no greater mistake than to
imagine it in any wise Protestant. The author shares this hate or
slight of ecclesiasticism with all the Spanish novelists, so far as I
know them; most notably with Perez Galdos in _Dona Perfecta_ and _Lean
Rich_, with Pardo-Bazan in several of her stories, with Palacio
Valdes in the less measure of _Marta y Maria_, and _La Hermana de San
Sulpicio_ and even with the romanticist Valera in _Pepita Jimenez_.
But it may be said that while Ibanez does not go any farther than
Galdos, for instance, he is yet more intensively agnostic. He is the
standard bearer of the scientific revolt in the terms of fiction which
spares us no hope of relief in the religious notion of human life here
or hereafter that the Hebraic or Christian theology has divined.

It is right to say this plainly, but the reader who can suffer it from
the author will find his book one of the fullest and richest in modern
fiction, worthy to rank with the greatest Russian work and beyond
anything yet done in English. It has not the topographical range of
Tolstoy's _War and Peace_, or _Resurrection_; but in its climax it
is as logically and ruthlessly tragical as anything that the Spanish
spirit has yet imagined.

Whoever can hold on to the end of it will find his reward in the full
enjoyment of that "noble terror" which high tragedy alone can
give. Nothing that happens in the solemn story--in which something
significant is almost always happening--is of the supreme effect of
the socialist agitator's death at the hands of the disciples whom he
has taught to expect mercy and justice on earth, but forbidden to
expect it within the reach of the longest life of any man or race of
men. His rebellious followers come at night into the Cathedral where
Gabriel is watching, to rob an especially rich Madonna, whom he has
taught them to regard as a senseless and wasteful idol, and they
will not hear him when he pleads with them against the theft. The
inevitable irony of the event is awful, but it is not cruel, rather it
is the supreme touch of that pathos which seems the crowning motive of
the book.


* * * * *



The dawn was just rising when Gabriel Luna arrived in front of the
Cathedral, but in the narrow street of Toledo it was still night. The
silvery morning light that had scarcely begun to touch the eaves and
roofs, spread out more freely in the little Piazza del Ayuntamiento,
bringing out of the shadows the ugly front of the Archbishop's Palace,
and the towers of the municipal buildings capped with black slate, a
sombre erection of the time of Charles V.

Gabriel walked for some time up and down the deserted square, wrapping
himself up to his eyes in the muffler of his cloak, while at intervals
his hollow cough shook him painfully. Without daring to stop walking
on account of the bitter cold, he looked at the great doorway called
"del Perdon," the only part of the church able to present a really
imposing aspect. He recalled other famous cathedrals, isolated,
occupying commanding situations, showing themselves freely in the full
pride of their beauty, and he compared them with this Cathedral
of Toledo, the mother-church of Spain, smothered by the swarm of
poverty-stricken buildings that surrounded it, clinging closely to its
walls, permitting it to display none of its exterior beauties, beyond
what could be seen from the narrow streets that closed it in on every
side. Gabriel, who was acquainted with its interior magnificence,
thought of the deceptive oriental houses, outwardly squalid and
miserable, but inwardly rich in alabasters and traceries. Jews and
Moors had not lived in Toledo for centuries in vain, their aversion to
outward show seemed to have influenced the building of the Cathedral,
now suffocated by the miserable hovels, pushed and piled up against
it, as though seeking its protection.

The little Piazza del Ayuntamiento was the only open space that
allowed the Christian monument to display any of its grandeur; under
this little patch of open sky the early morning light showed the three
immense Gothic arches of its principal front, the hugely massive bell
tower, with its salient angles, ornamented by the cap of the Alcuzon,
a sort of black tiara, with three crowns, almost lost in the grey mist
of the wintry dawn.

Gabriel looked affectionately at the closed and silent fane, where his
family lived, and where he himself had spent the happiest days of his
life. How many years had passed since he had last seen it! And now he
waited anxiously for the opening of its doorways.

He had arrived in Toledo by train the previous night from Madrid.
Before shutting himself up in his miserable little room in the Posada
del Sangre (the ancient Messon del Sevillano, inhabited by Cervantes)
he had felt a feverish desire to revisit the Cathedral, and had spent
nearly an hour walking round it, listening to the barking of the
Cathedral watch-dog, who growled suspiciously, hearing the sound of
footsteps in the surrounding streets. He had been unable to sleep; the
fact of returning to his native town after so many years of misery and
adventures had taken from him all desire to rest, and, while it was
still night, he again stole out to await near the Cathedral the moment
that it should be opened.

To while away the time he paced up and down the front, admiring again
the beauties of the porch, and noting its defects aloud, as though he
wished to call the stone benches of the Piazza and its wretched little
trees as witnesses to his criticisms.

An iron grating surmounted by urns of the seventeenth century ran in
front of the porch, enclosing a wide, flagged space, where in former
times the sumptuous processions of the Chapter had assembled, and
where the multitude could admire the grotesque giants on high days and

The first storey of the facade was broken in the centre by the great
Puerta del Perdon, an enormous and very deeply-recessed Gothic arch,
which narrowed as it receded by the gradations of its mouldings,
adorned by statues of apostles, under open-worked canopies, and by
shields emblazoned with lions and castles. On the pillar dividing the
doorway stood Jesus in kingly crown and mantle, thin and drawn out,
with the look of emaciation and misery that the imagination of
the Middle Ages conceived necessary for the expression of Divine
sublimity. In the tympanum a relievo represented the Virgin surrounded
by angels, robed in the habit of St. Ildefonso, a pious legend
repeated in various parts of the building as though it were one of its
chief glories.

On one side was the doorway called "de la Torre,"[1] on the other side
that called "de los Escribanos,"[2] for by it entered in former days
the guardians of public religion to take the oath to fulfil the duties
of their office. Both were enriched with stone statues on the jambs,
and by wreaths of little figures, foliage, and emblems that unrolled
themselves among the mouldings till they met at the summit of the

[Footnote 1: Of the Tower.]

[Footnote 2: Of the Scribes.]

Above these three doorways with their exuberant Gothic rose the second
storey of Greco-Romano and almost modern construction, causing Gabriel
the same annoyance as would a discordant trumpet interrupting a
symphony. Jesus and the twelve apostles, all life size, seated at the
table, each under his own canopied niche, could be seen above the
central porch, shut in by the two tower-like buttresses which divided
the front into three parts. Beyond, two rows of arcades of inferior
design, belonging to the Italian palace, extended as far as those
under which Gabriel had so often played as a child when living in the
house of the bell-ringer.

The riches of the Church, thought Luna, were a misfortune for art; in
a poorer church the uniformity of the ancient front would have been
preserved. But, then, the Archbishop of Toledo had eleven millions of
yearly revenue, and the Chapter as many more; they did not know what
to do with their money, so started works and made reconstructions,
and the decadent art produced monstrosities like that one of the Last

Above, again, rose the third storey, two great arches that lighted the
large rose of the central nave. The whole was crowned by a balustrade
of open-worked stone following the sinuosities of the frontage, between
the two salient masses that guarded it, the tower and the Musarabe

Gabriel ceased his contemplation, seeing that he was no longer alone
in front of the church. It was nearly daylight, and several women with
bowed heads, their mantillas falling over their eyes, were passing in
front of the iron grating. The crutches of a lame man rang out on the
fine tiles of the pavement, and, out beyond the tower, under the
great arch of communication between the archbishop's palace and the
Cathedral, the beggars were gathering in order to take up their
accustomed positions at the cloister door. The faithful and "God's
creatures" [1] knew one another; every morning they were the first
occupants of the church, and this daily meeting had established a kind
of fraternity, and with much coughing and hoarseness they all lamented
the cold of the morning and the lateness of the bell-ringer in coming
down to open the doors.

[Footnote 1: _Pordioseres_.]

A door opened beyond the archbishop's arch, that of the tower and
the staircase leading to the dwellings in the upper cloister. A man
crossed the street rattling a huge bunch of keys, and, followed by the
usual morning assemblage, he proceeded to open the door of the lower
cloister, narrow and pointed as an arrow-head. Gabriel recognised him,
it was Mariano, the bell-ringer. To avoid being noticed he remained
motionless in the _Piazza_, allowing those to pass first through
the Puerta del Mollete,[1] who seemed so anxious to hurry into the
Metropolitan church, lest their usual places should be stolen from
them and occupied by others.

[Footnote 1: Door of the rolls, or loaves.]

At last he decided to follow them, and slowly descended the same steps
leading down into the cloister, for the Cathedral, being built in a
hollow, is much lower than the adjacent streets.

Everything appeared the same. There on the walls were the great
frescoes of Bayan y Maella, representing the works and great deeds
of Saint Eulogio, his preaching in the land of the Moors, and the
cruelties of the infidels, who, with big turbans and enormous
whiskers, were beating the saint. In the interior of the Mollete
doorway was represented the horrible martyrdom of the Child de la
Guardia; that legend born at the same time in so many Catholic towns
during the heat of anti-Semitic hatred, the sacrifice of the Christian
child, stolen from his home by Jews of grim countenance, who crucified
him in order to tear out his heart and drink his blood.

The damp was rapidly effacing this romantic fresco, that filled the
sides of the archway like the frontispiece of a book, causing it to
scale off; but Gabriel could still see the horrible face of the judge
standing at the foot of the cross, and the ferocious gesture of the
man, who with his knife in his mouth, was bending forward to tear out
the heart of the little martyr; theatrical figures, but they had often
disturbed his childish dreams.

The garden in the midst of the cloister showed even in midwinter its
southern vegetation of tall laurels and cypresses, stretching their
branches through the grating of the arches that, five on each side,
surrounded the square, and rising to the capitals of the pillars.
Gabriel looked a long time at the garden, which was higher than the
cloister; his face was on a level with the ground on which his father
had laboured so many years ago; at last he saw again that charming
corner of verdure--the Jews' market converted into a garden by the
canons centuries before. The remembrance of it had followed him
everywhere--in the Bois de Boulogne, in Hyde Park; for him the garden
of the Toledan Cathedral was the most beautiful of all gardens, for it
was the first he had even known in his life.

The beggars seated on the doorsteps watched him curiously, without
daring to stretch out their hands; they could not tell if this early
morning visitor with the worn-out cloak, the shabby hat, and the old
boots, was simply an inquisitive traveller, or whether he was one of
their own order, choosing a position about the Cathedral from whence
to beg alms.

Annoyed by this curiosity, Luna walked down the cloister, passing
by the two doors that opened into the church. The one called del
Presentacion is a lovely example of Plateresque art, chiselled like a
jewel, and adorned with fanciful and happy trifles. Going on further,
he came to the back of the staircase by which the archbishops
descended from their palace to the church; a wall covered with Gothic
interlacings, and large escutcheons, and almost on the level of the
ground was the famous "stone of light," a thin slice of marble as
clear as glass, which gave light to the staircase, and was the
admiration of all the countryfolk who came to visit the cloister. Then
came the door of Santa Catalina, black and gold, with richly-carved
polychrome foliage, mixed with lions and castles, and on the jambs two
statues of prophets.

Gabriel went on a few steps further as he saw that the wicket of the
doorway was being opened from inside. It was the bell-ringer going
his rounds and opening all the doors; first of all a dog came out,
stretching his neck as though he was going to bark with hunger, then
two men with their caps over their eyes, wrapped in brown cloaks; the
bell-ringer held up the curtain to let them pass out.

"Well, good-day, Mariano," said one of them by way of farewell.

"Good-night to the caretakers of God.... May you sleep well."

Gabriel recognised the nocturnal guardians of the Cathedral; locked
into the church since the previous night, they were now going to their
homes to sleep.

The dog trotted off in the direction of the seminary to get his
breakfast off the scraps left by the students, free till such time as
the guardians came to look for him, to lock themselves in the church
once more.

Luna walked down the steps of the doorway into the Cathedral. His feet
had scarcely touched the pavement before he felt on his face the cold
touch of the clammy air, like an underground vault. In the church
it was still dark, but above the stained glass of the hundreds of
different-sized windows glowed in the early dawn, looking like magic
flowers opening with the first splendours of day. Below, among the
enormous pillars that looked like a forest of stone, all was darkness,
broken here and there by the uncertain red spots of the lamps burning
in the different chapels, wavering in the shadows. The bats flew in
and out round the columns, wishing to prolong their possession of the
fane, till the first rays of the sun shone through the windows; they
fluttered over the heads of the devotees, who, kneeling before the
altars, were praying loudly, as pleased to be in the Cathedral at that
early hour as though it were their own house. Others chattered with
the acolytes and other servants of the church, who were coming in by
the different doors, sleepy and stretching themselves like workmen
coming to their work. In the twilight, figures in black cloaks glided
by on their way to the sacristy, stopping to make genuflections before
each image; and in the distance, invisible in the darkness, you
could still divine the presence of the bell-ringer, like a restless
hobgoblin, by the rattle of his bunch of keys and the creaking of the
doors he opened on his round.

The Cathedral was awake. Echo repeated the banging of the doors from
nave to nave; a large broom, making a saw-like noise, began to sweep
in front of the sacristy; the church vibrated under the blows of
certain acolytes engaged in removing the dust from the famous carved
stalls in the choir; it seemed as though the Cathedral had awoke
with its nerves irritated, and that the slightest touch produced

The men's footsteps resounded with a tremendous echo, as though the
tombs of all the kings, archbishops and warriors hidden under the
tiled floor were being disturbed.

The cold inside the church was even more intense than that outside;
this, together with the damp of its soil traversed by underground
water drains, and the leakage of subterranean and hidden tanks
that stained the pavement, made the poor canons in the choir cough
horribly, "shortening their lives," as they complainingly said.

The morning light began to spread through the naves, bringing out of
the darkness the spotless whiteness of the Toledan Cathedral, the
purity of its stone making it the lightest and most beautiful of
temples. One could now see all the elegant and daring beauty of the
eighty-eight pillars soaring audaciously into space, white as frozen
snow, and the delicate ribs interlacing to carry the vaulting. In the
upper storey the sun shone through the large stained-glass windows,
making them look like fairy gardens.

Gabriel seated himself on the base of one of the pilasters between two
columns; but he was soon obliged to rise and move on, the dampness
of the stone, and the vault-like cold throughout the whole building
penetrated to his very bones.

He strolled through the naves, attracting the attention of the
devotees, who stopped in their prayers to watch him. A stranger at
that early hour, which belonged specially to the familiars of the
Cathedral, excited their curiosity.

The bell-ringer passed him several times, following him with uneasy
glance, as though this unknown man, of poverty-stricken aspect, who
wandered aimlessly about at an hour when the treasures of the church
were, as a rule, not so strictly watched, inspired him with little

Another man met him near the high altar. Luna recognised him also: it
was Eusebio, the sacristan of the chapel of the Sagrario, "Azul de la
Virgen,"[1] as he was called by the Cathedral staff, on account of the
celestial colour of the cloak he wore on festival days.

[Footnote 1: Virgin's blue.]

Six years had passed since Gabriel had last seen him, but he had not
forgotten his greasy carcase, his surly face with its narrow, wrinkled
forehead fringed with bristly hair, his bull neck that scarcely
allowed him to breathe, and that made every breath like the blast of a
bellows. All the servants of the Cathedral envied him his post, which
was the most lucrative of all, to say nothing of the favour he enjoyed
with the archbishop and the canons.

"Virgin's blue" considered the Cathedral as his own peculiar property,
and he often came very near turning out those who inspired him with
any antipathy.

He fixed his bold eyes on the vagabond he saw walking about the
church, making an effort to raise his overhanging brows. Where had he
seen this strange fellow before? Gabriel noted the effort he made
to recall his memory, and turned his back to examine with pretended
interest a coloured panel hanging on a pillar.

Flying from the curiosity excited by his presence in the fane, he went
out into the cloister; there he felt more at his ease, quite alone.
The beggars were chattering, seated on the doorsteps of the Mollete;
many of the clergy passed through them, entering the church hurriedly
by the door of the Presentacion; the beggars saluted them all by name,
but without stretching out their hands. They knew them, they all
belonged to the "household," and among friends one does not beg. They
were there to fall on the strangers, and they waited patiently for the
coming of the English; for, surely, all the strangers who came from
Madrid by the early morning train could only be from England.

Gabriel waited near the door, knowing that those coming from the
cloister must enter by it. He crossed the archbishop's arch, and,
following the open staircase of the palace, descended into the street,
re-entering the church by the Mollete door. Luna, who knew all the
history of the Cathedral, remembered the origin of its name. At first
it was called "of justice," because under it the Vicar-General of
the Archbishopric gave audience. Later it was called "del Mollete,"
because every day after high mass the acolytes and vergers assembled
there for the blessing of the half-pound loaves, or rolls of bread
distributed to the poor. Six hundred bushels of wheat--as Luna
remembered--were distributed yearly in this alms, but this was in the
days when the yearly revenues of the Cathedral were more than eleven

Gabriel felt annoyed by the curious glances of the clergy, and of the
devout entering the church. They were people accustomed to seeing each
other daily at the same hour, and they felt their curiosity excited by
seeing a stranger breaking in on the monotony of their lives.

He drew back to the further end of the cloister, then some words from
the beggars made him retrace his steps.

"Ah! here comes old 'Vara de palo.'"[1]

[Footnote 1: Wooden staff.]

"Good-day, Senor Esteban!"

A small man dressed in black, and shaved like a cleric, came down the

"Esteban! Esteban!" cried Luna, placing himself between him and the
door of the Presentacion.

"Wooden Staff" looked at him with his clear eyes like amber, the quiet
eyes of a man used to spending long hours in the Cathedral, with never
a rebellious thought arising to disturb his immovable beatitude. He
stood doubting for some time, as though he could scarcely credit the
remote resemblance in this thin, pale face, to another that lived in
his memory, but at last, with a pained surprise, he became convinced
of its identity.

"Gabriel! my brother! is it really you?"

And the rigidly set face of the Cathedral servant, which seemed to
have acquired the immobility of its pillars and statues, relaxed with
an affectionate smile.

"When did you come? Where have you been? What is your life? Why have
you come?"

"Wooden Staff" expressed his surprise by incessant questions, never
giving his brother time to answer.

Gabriel at length explained, that he had arrived the previous night,
and that he had waited outside the church since early dawn in the
hopes of seeing his brother.

"I have now come from Madrid, but before that I was in many places:
in England, in France, in Belgium, who knows where besides. I have
wandered from one town to another, always struggling against hunger
and the cruelty of men. My footsteps have been dogged by poverty and
the police. When I rest a little, worn out by this Wandering Jew's
existence, Justice, inspired by fear, orders me to move on, and so
once again I begin my march. I am a man to be feared, Esteban, even as
you now see me, with my body ruined before old age, and the certainty
before me of a speedy death. Again, yesterday in Madrid, they told me
I should be sent once more to prison if I stayed there any longer, and
so in the evening I took the train. Where shall I go? The world is
wide; but for me and other rebels it is very small, and narrows till
it does not leave a hand's breadth of ground for our feet. In all the
world nothing was left me but you, and this peaceful silent corner
where you live so happily, and so, I came to seek you. If you turn me
out, nothing will be left me but to die in prison, or in a hospital,
if indeed they would take me in when they know my name."

And Gabriel, spent with his words, coughed painfully, a hollow
cavernous cough that seemed to tear his chest. He expressed himself
vehemently, moving his arms freely, with the gestures of a man used to
speaking in public, burning with the zeal of his cause.

"Ah! brother, brother!" said Esteban, with an accent of mild reproof,
"what has it profited you reading so many books and newspapers? What
is the use of trying to disturb and upset things that are all right;
and if they are all wrong, is there no other means of righting them
possible? If you had followed your own path quietly, you would have
been a beneficiary of the Cathedral, and, who knows, you might have
had a seat in the choir among the canons, for the honour and profit of
the family! But you were always wrong-headed, although you were the
cleverest of us all. Cursed talent that leads to such misery! What
I have suffered, brother, trying to hear about your affairs! What
bitterness have I not gone through since you last came here! I thought
you were contented and happy in the printing office in Barcelona,
receiving a salary that was a fortune compared to what we earn here.
I was disturbed at reading your name so often in the papers, at those
meetings, where the division of everything is advocated, the death of
religion and of the family, and I do not know what follies besides.
The 'companion' Luna said this, or the 'companion' Luna has done the
other, and I tried to hide from the people of the 'household' that
this 'companion' could be you, guessing that such madness must turn
out ill--furiously ill--and after--after came the affairs of the

"I had nothing to do with that," said Gabriel sadly. "I am only a
theorist; I condemned the action as premature and inefficacious."

"I know it, Gabriel. I always thought you innocent. You so good, so
gentle, who since you were a little one always astonished us by your
kindness; you who seemed like a saint, as our poor mother used to say!
You kill, and so treacherously, by means of such infernal artifices!
Holy Jesus!"

And the "Wooden Staff" was silent, overcome by the recollection of
those attempts that had overwhelmed his brother.

"But what is certain is," he continued after a little, "that you fell
into the trap spread by the Government after those affairs. What I
suffered for a while! Now and again I heard firing in the castle ditch
beyond there, and I searched anxiously in the papers for the names
of those executed, always fearing to find yours. There were rumours
current of horrible tortures inflicted on those taken to make them
confess the truth, and I thought of you, so frail, so delicate, and
I feared that some day you would be found dead in a dungeon. And I
suffered even more from my anxiety that no one here should know of
your situation; you a Luna! a son of Senor Esteban, the old gardener
of the Primate, with whom all the canons and even the archbishop
talked. You mixed up with those infernal scoundrels who wish to
destroy the world. For this reason when Eusebio the 'Virgin's Blue,'
asked me if you could possibly be the Luna of whom he read in the
papers, I replied that my brother was in America, that I heard from
him now and again, but that he was occupied with a big business--you
see what pain! Fearing from one moment to another that they would
kill you, unable to speak, unable to complain, fearful of telling
my distress even to my family. How often have I prayed in there!
Accustomed as we of the 'household' are to associate daily with
God and the saints, we may be a little hard and narrow-minded, but
misfortune softens the heart, and I addressed myself to Her who can do
everything, to our patroness the Virgin of the Sagrario, begging her
to remember you, who used to kneel at her shrine as a little child
when you were preparing to enter the seminary."

Gabriel smiled gently as though admiring the simplicity of his

"Do not laugh, I pray you--your smile wounds me. The Divine Lady did
all she could for you. Months afterwards I learnt that you and others
had been put on board ship with orders never to return to Spain, and,
up to the present time, never a letter or a scrap of news, good or
ill. I thought you had died, Gabriel, in those distant lands, and more
than once I have prayed for your poor soul, that I am sure wanted it."

The "companion" showed in his eyes his gratitude for these words.

"Thanks, Esteban. I admire your faith, but I did not come out of that
dark adventure as well as you imagine. It would have been far better
to have died. The aureole of a martyr is worth more than to enter a
dungeon a man and come out of it a limp rag. I am very ill, Esteban,
my sentence is irrevocable. I have no stomach left, my lungs are gone,
and this body that you see is like a dislocated machine that can
hardly move, creaking in every joint, as though all the bits intended
to fall apart. The Virgin who saved me at your recommendation might
really have interceded a little more in my favour, softening my
jailors. Those wretches think to save the world by giving free rein
to those wild beast instincts that slumber in us all, relics of a
far-away past. Since then, at liberty, life has been more painful than
death. On my return to Spain, pressed by poverty and persecution, my
life has been a hell. I dare stop in no place where men congregate;
they hunt me like dogs, forcing me to live out of the towns, driving
me to the mountains, into the deserts, where no human beings live. It
appears I am still a man to be feared, more to be feared than those
desperadoes who throw bombs, because I can speak, because I carry in
me an irresistible strength which forces me to preach the Truth if
I find myself in the presence of miserable and trodden-down
wretches--but all this is coming to an end. You may be easy, brother,
I am a dead man; my mission is drawing to a close, but others will
come after me, and again others. The furrow is open and the seed is in
its bowels--'GERMINAL!'[1] as a friend of my exile shouted as he saw
the last rays of the setting sun from the scaffold of the gibbet. I am
dying, and I think I have the right to rest for a few months. I wish
to enjoy for the first time in my life the sweets of silence, of
absolute quiet, of incognito; to be no one, for no one to know me; to
inspire neither sympathy nor fear. I should wish to be as a statue
on the doorway, as a pillar in the Cathedral, immovable, over whose
surface centuries have glided without leaving the slightest trace or
emotion. To wait for death as a body that eats or breathes, but cannot
think or suffer, nor feel enthusiasm; this to me would be happiness,
brother. I do not know where to go; men are waiting for me out beyond
these doors to drive me on again. Will you let me stay with you?"

[Footnote 1: "It will sprout."]

For all answer the "Wooden Staff" laid his hand affectionately on
Gabriel's arm.

"Let us come upstairs, madman--you shall not die, I will nurse you;
what you want is care and quiet. We will cure that hot head, which
seems like that of Don Quixote. Do you remember when you were a child
reading us his history in the long evenings? Go along, dreamer, what
does it signify to you if the world is better or worse regulated?
As we found it, so it has always been. What does signify is that we
should live like Christians, with the certainty that the other life
will be a better one, as it will be the work of God and not of man. Go
up--let us go up."

And taking hold of the vagabond affectionately, they passed out of
the cloister through the beggars, who had followed the interview with
curious eyes, without, however, being able to hear a single word. They
crossed the street and entered the staircase of the tower. The steps
were of red brick, worn and broken; the whitewashed walls were covered
on all sides with grotesque drawings and various inscriptions,
scrawled by those who had ascended the tower, attracted by the fame of
the big bell.

Gabriel went up slowly, gasping, and stopping at every step.

"I am ill, Esteban, very ill; these bellows let out the wind in every

Then, as though repenting his forgetfulness, he suddenly asked:

"And Pepa, your wife? I hope she is all right."

The brows of the Cathedral servant contracted, and his eyes became
bright as though full of tears.

"She died," he said with laconic sadness.

Gabriel stopped suddenly, clinging to the handrail, struck with
surprise; then, after a short silence, he went on, wishing to console
his brother.

"But, Sagrario, my niece, she must have grown a beauty. The last time
I saw her she looked like a queen, with her crown of auburn hair and
her smiling face, with its golden bloom, like a ripe apricot. Did she
marry the cadet, or is she still with you?"

The "Wooden Staff" appeared even more sad, and he looked grimly at his

"She also died," he said drily.

"Sagrario also dead!" exclaimed Gabriel astounded.

"She is dead to me, which is the same thing. Brother, by all you love
best in the world, do not speak to me of her."

Gabriel understood that he had opened some deep wound by his
inquiries, and so said no more, beginning once more his ascent. During
his absence a terrible event had happened in his brother's life--one
of those events that break up a family and separate for ever those
that survive.

They crossed the gallery covered by the archbishop's archway and
entered the upper cloister called "the Claverias": four arcades
of equal length to those of the lower cloister, but quite bare of
decoration, and with a poverty-stricken aspect. The pavement was
chipped and broken, the four sides had a balustrade running round
between the flat pillars that supported the old beams of the roof. It
had been a provisional work three hundred years ago, and had always
remained in the same state. All along the whitewashed walls, the doors
and windows belonging to the "habitacions" of the Cathedral servants
opened without order or symmetry. These were transmitted with the
office from father to son. The cloister, with its low arcade, looked
like a street having houses on one side only; opposite was the flat
colonnade with its balustrade, against which the pointed branches of
the cypresses in the garden rested. Above the roof of the cloister
could be seen the windows of another row of "habitacions," for nearly
all the dwellings in the Claverias had two stories.

It was the population of a whole town that lived above the Cathedral,
on a level with its roofs; and when night fell, and the staircase of
the tower was locked, it remained quite isolated from the city. This
semi-ecclesiastical tribe was born and died in the very heart of
Toledo without ever going down into the streets, clinging with
traditional instinct to the carved mountain of stone, whose arches
served it as a refuge. They lived saturated with the scent of incense,
breathing the peculiar smell of mould and old iron belonging to
ancient buildings, and with no more horizon than the arches of the
bell tower, whose height soared into the small patch of blue sky
visible from the cloister.

The "companion" Luna thought he was returning with one step to the
days of his childhood. Little children like the Gabriel of former days
were playing about the four galleries, and sitting in that part of the
cloister bathed by the first rays of the sun. Women, who reminded
of his mother, were shaking the bedclothes out over the garden, or
sweeping the red bricks opposite their dwellings; everything seemed
the same. Time had left it quite alone, evidently thinking there was
nothing there that he could possibly age. The "companion" could now
see two sketches of lay brothers that he had drawn with charcoal when
he was eight years old; had it not been for the children one might
have thought that life had been suspended in that corner of the
Cathedral, as though this aerial population could neither be born nor

The "Wooden Staff," frowning and gloomy since the last words were
spoken, tried to give some explanation to his brother.

"I live in our same old house. They left it to me out of respect to
the memory of my father. I am grateful to the clergy of the Chapter,
taking into consideration that I am nothing but a sad old 'Wooden
Staff.' Since my misfortune happened I have had an old woman to keep
house, and Don Luis, the Chapel-master, lives with me. You will come
to know him, a young priest of great talent, but quite hidden here:
one of God's souls, whom they think crazy in the Cathedral, but who
lives like an angel."

They entered into the house of the Lunas, which was one of the best in
the Claverias. By the door two rows of flower vases in the shape of
a clock-case fastened to the walls were filled with hanging plants;
inside, in the sitting room, Gabriel found everything the same as
during his father's lifetime. The white walls that with years had
become like ivory, were still decorated with the old engravings of
saints, the chairs of mahogany, bright with constant rubbing, looked
like new, in spite of their curves, which showed them to belong to
a previous century, and their seats almost ready to drop through.
Through a half-open door he could see into the kitchen, where his
brother had gone to give some orders to a timid-looking old woman. In
one corner of the room, half hidden, was a sewing machine. Luna had
seen his niece working at it the last time he came to the Cathedral.
It was the permanent remembrance the "little one" had left behind her
after that catastrophe which had filled her father with such gloomy
sadness. Through a back window of the room Gabriel could see the inner
court, which made this "habitacion" one of the most charming in the
Claverias, the open expanse of sky, and the upper rooms on all four
sides, supported by rows of slender pillars, that made the courtyard
look like a little cloister.

Esteban came back and rejoined his brother.

"You must say what you would like for breakfast. It would soon be
ready; ask, man, ask for what you want, for though I am poor I shall
take little credit to myself unless I can make you pick up a little
and lose that look of a resuscitated corpse."

Gabriel smiled sadly.

"It is useless your troubling; my stomach is quite gone; a little milk
is enough for it, and I am thankful if it retains it."

Esteban ordered the old woman to go into the town in search of the
milk, and he had hardly seated himself by his brother's side when the
door giving into the cloister opened, and the head of a young man

"Good-day, uncle!" he exclaimed.

His face was unhealthy and currish, the eyes were malicious, and above
his ears were combed two large tufts of glossy hair.

"Come in, vagabond, come in," said the "Wooden Staff."

And he added, turning to his brother:

"Do you know who this is? No? It is the son of our poor brother, whom
God has taken to his glory. He lives in the upper dwellings of the
cloister with his mother, who washes the linen of the choir, and of
the senores canons; and it is a delight to see how she crimps the
surplices. Thomas, lad, bow to the gentleman; it is your uncle
Gabriel, who has just arrived from America, and from Paris, and I
don't know from where else besides! From very far off countries, very
far off."

The young man saluted Gabriel, though he seemed rather scared by the
sad and suffering face of their relative, whom he had heard his mother
speak of as a mysterious and romantic being.

"Here, as you see him," proceeded Esteban, speaking to his brother,
and pointing to his nephew, "he is the worst lot in the Cathedral.
The Senor Obrero[1] would more than once have turned him out into
the street, were it not for respect to the memory of his father and
grandfather, and also to the name he bears, for everybody knows the
Lunas are as ancient in the Cathedral as the stones in its walls. No
escapade enters his head but he hastens to carry it out, and he swears
like a pagan even in full sacristy, under the very noses of the
beneficiaries. Don't dare to deny it! Grumbler!"

[Footnote 1: Canon in charge of the fabric.]

And he shook his first at the lad, half severely, half smiling, as
though in the bottom of his heart he felt some pride in his nephew's
scrapes, who received his reprimand with grimaces that made his face
twitch like that of a monkey, while his eyes retained their fixed and
insolent stare.

"It is a real shame," continued the uncle, "that you should comb your
hair in that fashion, like the Merry Andrews that come to Toledo from
the Court on great festivals. In the good old times of the Cathedral
they would have shaved your head for you. But in these days of
alienation, of universal licence and misfortunes, our holy church is
as poor as a rat, and poverty does not give the senores canons much
inclination to examine details. It is a grievous pity to see how
everything is going down. What desolation, Gabriel! If you could only
see it! The Cathedral is as beautiful as ever, but we do not now see
the former beauty of the Lord's worship. The Chapel-master says the
same thing, and he is indignant to see that on great festivals only
about half-a-dozen musicians take their place in the middle of the
choir. The young people who live in the Claverias have not our great
love for the mother-church; they complain of the shortness of their
salaries without considering that it is the temporalities that support
religion. If this goes on I should not be surprised to see this
popinjay and other rascals like him playing at 'Rayuelo'[1] in the
crossways in front of the choir. May God forgive me!"

[Footnote 1: A game of drawing lines.]

And the simple "Wooden Staff" made a gesture as though scandalised at
his own words. He went on:

"This young fellow you see here is not satisfied with his position in
life, and yet, though he is only a youth, he occupies the place his
poor father could only attain to after thirty years' service. He
aspires to be a toreador, and often on a Sunday he dares to take part
in the bull-fight in the bull-ring of Toledo. His mother came down,
dishevelled like a Magdalen, to tell me all about it, and I, thinking
that as his father was dead I ought to act in his place, I watched for
our gentleman as he returned tricked out smartly from the bull-ring,
and I thrashed him up the tower staircase to his rooms with the same
wooden staff that I use in the Cathedral, and he can tell you if I
have not a heavy hand when I am angry. Virgin of the Sagrario! A Luna
of the Holy Metropolitan Church lowering himself to be a bull-fighter!
The canons did laugh, and even the Lord Cardinal himself, as I have
been told, when they heard about the affair! A witty beneficiary has
since nicknamed him the 'Tato,'[1] and so they all call him now in
the Cathedral. So you see, brother, how much respect this rascal pays
to his family."

[Footnote 1: _Tato_--Armadillo.]

The "Silenciario"[1] attempted to annihilate the "Tato" with his
glance, but this latter only smiled without paying much attention,
either to his uncle's words or looks.

[Footnote 1: _Silenciario_--Officer appointed to keep silence.]

"You would hardly believe, Gabriel," he continued, "that this creature
often wants a bit of bread, and it is for this reason he commits all
these follies. In spite of his wrong-headedness, since the age of
twenty he has occupied the position of 'Perrero'[3] in the holy
church, he has obtained what in better times only those could obtain
who had served well and striven hard for years. He gets his six reals
a day, and as he can go freely about the church he can show the
curiosities to strangers; and so with the salary and the tips he
gets, he is much better off than I am. The foreigners who visit the
Cathedral, excommunicated people who look upon us as strange monkeys,
and who think that anything interesting of ours is only worthy of a
laugh, take a fancy to him. The English ask him if he is a toreador,
and he--what does he want better than that! When he sees they pay him
according as he pleases them, he brings out his pack of lies, for,
unfortunately, no one has any check on the deceit, and he tells them
about all the great bull-fights in which he has taken part in Toledo,
and all about the bulls he has killed; and these blockheads from
England make a note of it in their albums, and even some coarse hand
may make a sketch of this imposter's head; all he cares for is that
they should believe all his lies and give him a peseta on leaving. It
matters very little to him, if when these heretics return to their
own country they spread the report that in Toledo, in the Holy
Metropolitan Church of all Spain, the Cathedral servants are
bull-fighters, and assist in the ceremonies of worship between the
bull runs. The sum total is, that he earns more than I do, but in
spite of this he considers his employment beneath him. And such
beautiful duties, too. To walk in the great processions before
everyone, close to the Primate's great banner, with a staff covered
with red velvet to support him should he chance to fall, and wearing a
robe of scarlet brocade like a cardinal. Our Chapel-master, who knows
a great deal about such things, says that when he wears that robe
he looks like a certain Diente, or some name of the sort, who
lived hundreds of years ago in Italy, and went down into hell, and
afterwards described his journey in poetry."

[Footnote 3: _Perrero_--Beadle whose special duty it is to chase the
dogs out of church.]

Sounds of footsteps were heard on the narrow circular staircase in the
thickness of the wall that led from the sitting-room to the storey

"It is Don Luis," said the "Wooden Staff," "he is going to say his
mass in the chapel of the Sagrario, and afterwards to the choir."

Gabriel rose from his sofa to salute the priest. He was feeble and
small of stature, but the thing about him that struck you at first
sight was the disproportion between his shrunken body and his immense
head. The forehead, round and prominent, seemed to crush with its
weight the dark and irregular features, much pitted by smallpox.
He was very ugly, but still the expression of his blue eyes, the
brilliancy of his white and regular teeth, and the ingenuous smile,
almost childlike, that played on his lips, gave his face that
sympathetic expression which showed him to be one of those simple
souls wrapped up in their artistic fancies.

"And so this gentleman is the brother of whom you have spoken to me so
often," said he, hearing the introduction made by Esteban.

He held out his hand in a friendly way to Gabriel. They both looked
very sickly, but their bodily infirmities seemed to be a bond of

"As the senor has studied in the seminary," said the Chapel-master,
"he will know something about music."

"It is the only thing that I remember of all those studies."

"But having travelled so much all over the world, you must have heard
a great deal of good music."

"That is so. Music is to me the most pleasing of all the arts. I do
not know much about it, but I feel it."

"Very well, very well, we shall be good friends. You must tell me all
sorts of things; how I envy you having travelled so much."

He spoke like a restless child, without sitting down. Although the
"Silenciario" offered him a chair at each of his flirtings round the
room, he wandered from side to side in his shabby cloak, his hat in
his hand--a poor worn-out hat with not a trace of pile left, knocked
in, with a layer of grease on its flaps, miserable and old, like the
cassock and the shoes. But in spite of this poverty the Chapel-master
had a certain refinement about him. His hair, rather too long for his
ecclesiastical dress, curled round his temples, and the dignified way
in which he folded his cloak round his body reminded one of the cloak
of a tenor at the opera. He had a sort of easy grace that betrayed the
artist who, under the priestly robes, was longing to get rid of them,
leaving them at his feet like a winding sheet.

Some deep notes from the bell, like distant thunder, floated into the
room through the cloister.

"Uncle, they are calling us to the choir," said the "Tato." "We ought
to have been in the Cathedral before now; it is nearly eight o'clock."

"It is true, lad. I am glad you were here to remind me; let us be

Then he added, speaking to the musical priest:

"Don Luis, your mass is at eight o'clock. You can talk with Gabriel
later on; now we must fulfil our obligations, for those who are late
will, as you say, be turned out, even though our office hardly gives
us enough to eat."

The Chapel-master assented sadly with a movement of his head, and
went out, following the two Cathedral servants. He seemed to go
unwillingly, as though forced to a task that was to him both irksome
and painful. He hummed absently while giving his hand to Gabriel, who
thought he recognised a fragment of Beethoven's Seventh Symphony in
the low and uneven tones that came from the lips of the young priest.

Now that he was alone Luna stretched himself on the sofa, giving
himself up to the fatigue he felt from his long wait before the
Cathedral. His brother's old servant placed a little pitcher of
milk by his side, and filling a cup, Gabriel drank, endeavouring to
overcome the repugnance of his weak stomach, which almost refused to
retain the liquid. His body, fatigued by his restless night and the
long morning wait, at last assimilated the nourishment, and a soft,
dreamy languor spread over him that he had not felt for a long time.
He soon fell asleep, remaining for more than an hour motionless on the
sofa, and though his breathing was disturbed, and his chest racked by
his hollow cough, they were unable to wake him from his slumber.

When he did awake, it was suddenly, with a nervous start that shook
him from head to foot, making him bound from the sofa as though a
spring had been touched. It was the wariness produced by his ever
present danger, that had become habitual to him; the habit of
restlessness formed in dark dungeons, expecting hourly to see the door
open, to be beaten like a dog, or led off between a double file of
muskets to the square of execution; the habit of living perpetually
watched, of feeling in every country the espionage of the police
around him, the habit of being awoke in the middle of the night in his
wretched room in some inn by the order to leave at once; the unrest of
the ancient Asheverus, who, as soon as he could enjoy a moment's rest,
heard the eternal cry--"Go on. Go on."

He did not try to sleep again, he preferred the present reality, the
silence of the Cathedral which was to him as a gentle caress, the
noble calm of the temple, that immense pile of worked stone, which
seemed to press on him, enveloping him, hiding for ever his weakness
and his persecutions.

He went out into the cloister, and, resting his elbows on the
balustrade, looked down into the garden.

The Claverias seemed quite deserted. The children who had enlivened
them in the early morning had gone to school, the women were inside
their houses preparing their mid-day meal, there seemed to be no one
in the cloister except himself; the sunlight bathed all one side,
and the shadow of the pillars cut obliquely the great golden spaces
flooding the pavement. The majestic silence, the holy calm of the
Cathedral overpowered the agitator like a gentle narcotic. The seven
centuries surrounding those stones seemed to him like so many veils
hiding him from the rest of the world. In one of the dwellings of the
Claverias you could hear the incessant tap, tap, of a hammer; it was
that of a shoemaker whom Gabriel had seen through the window-panes,
bending over his bench. In the square of sky framed by the roofs some
pigeons were flying, lazily moving their wings, soaring in the vault
of intense blue; some flew down into the cloister, and, perching on
the balustrade, broke the religious silence with their gentle cooing;
now and again the heavy door-curtains of the church were lifted, and
a breath of air charged with incense floated over the garden of the
Claverias, together with the deep notes of the organ, and the sound of
voices chanting Latin words and solemnly prolonging the cadences.

Gabriel looked at the garden surrounded by its arcades of white stone,
with its rough buttresses of dark granite, in the chinks of which the
rain had left an efflorescence of fungus, like little tufts of black
velvet. The sun struck on one angle of the garden, leaving the rest
in cool green shade, a conventual twilight. The bell-tower hid one
portion of the sky, displaying on its reddish sides, ornamented with
Gothic tracery and salient buttresses, the fillets of black marble
with heads of mysterious personages, and the shields with the arms of
the different archbishops who had assisted at its building; above,
near the pinnacles of white stone, were seen the bells behind enormous
gratings; from below they looked like three bronze birds in a cage of

Three deep strokes from a bell, echoing round the Cathedral, announced
that the High Mass had arrived at its most solemn moment, the mountain
of stone seemed to tremble with the vibration, which was transmitted
through the naves and galleries, to the arcades and down to the lowest

Again there was silence, which seemed even deeper after the bronze
thunders; the cooing of the pigeons could again be heard, and, down in
the garden, the twittering of the birds, warmed by the sun's rays that
began to gild its cool twilight.

Gabriel felt himself deeply moved; the sweet silence, the absolute
calm, the feeling almost of non-existence overpowered him; and beyond
those walls was the world, but here it could not be seen, it could not
be felt; it remained respectful but indifferent before that monument
of the past, that splendid sepulchre, in whose interior nothing
excited its curiosity. Who would ever imagine he was there? That
growth of seven centuries, built by vanished greatness for a dying
faith, should be his last refuge. In the full tide of unbelief the
church should be his sanctuary, as it had been in former days to
those great criminals of the Middle Ages, who, from the height of the
cloister mocked at justice, detained at the doors like the beggars.
Here should be consummated in silence and calm the slow decay of his
body, here he would die with the serene satisfaction of having died to
the world long before. At last he realised his hope of ending his days
in a corner of the sleepy Spanish Cathedral, the only hope that had
sustained him as he wandered on foot along the highways of Europe,
hiding himself from the civil guards and the police, spending his
nights in ditches, huddled up, his head on his knees, fearing every
moment to die of cold.

He clung to the Cathedral as a shipwrecked and drowning man clings
to the spar of a sinking ship; this had been his hope, and he was
beginning to realise it. The church would receive him, like an old and
infirm mother, unable to smile, but who could still stretch out her

"At last! At last!" murmured Luna.

And he smiled, thinking of the world of sorrows and persecutions that
he was leaving behind him, as though he were going to some remote
place, situated in another planet, from which he would never return;
the Cathedral would shelter him for ever.

In the profound stillness of the cloister, that the sound of the
street could not reach, the "companion" Luna thought he heard far off,
very far off, the shrill sound of a trumpet and the muffled roll
of drums, then he remembered the Alcazar of Toledo, dominating the
Cathedral from its height, intimidating it with the enormous mass of
its towers; they were the drums and trumpets of the Military Academy.

These sounds were painful to Gabriel; the world had faded from his
sight, and when he thought himself so very far from it, he could still
feel its presence only a little way beyond the roof of the temple.


Since the times of the second Cardinal de Bourbon Senior Esteban Luna
had been gardener of the Cathedral, by the right that seemed firmly
established in his family. Who was the first Luna that entered the
service of the Holy Metropolitan Church? As the gardener asked himself
this question he smiled complacently, raising his eyes to heaven, as
though he would inquire of the immensity of space. The Lunas were as
ancient as the foundations of the church; a great many generations
had been born in the abode in the upper cloister, and even before the
illustrious Cisneros built the Claverias the Lunas had lived in houses
adjacent, as though they could not exist out of the shadow of the
Primacy. To no one did the Cathedral belong with better right than
to them. Canons, beneficiaries, archbishops passed; they gained the
appointment, died, and others came in their places. It was a constant
procession of new faces, of masters who came from every corner of
Spain to take their seats in the choir, to die a few years afterwards,
leaving the vacancies to be filled again by other newcomers; but the
Lunas always remained at their post, as though the ancient family were
another column of the many that supported the temple. It might happen
that the archbishop who to-day was called Don Bernardo, might next
year be called Don Caspar, or again another Don Fernando. But what
seemed utterly impossible was that the Cathedral could exist without
Lunas in the garden, in the sacristy, or in the crossways of the
choir, accustomed as it had been for centuries to their services.

The gardener spoke with pride of his descent, of his noble and
unfortunate relative the constable Don Alvaro, buried like a king in
his chapel behind the high altar; of the Pope Benedict XIII., proud
and obstinate like all the rest of his family; of Don Pedro de Luna,
fifth of his name to occupy the archiepiscopal throne of Toledo, and
of other relatives not less distinguished.

"We are all from the same stem," he said with pride. "We all came
to the conquest of Toledo with the good King Alfonso VI. The only
difference has been, that some Lunas took a fancy to go and fight
the Moors, and they became lords, and conquered castles, whereas my
ancestors remained in the service of the Cathedral, like the good
Christians they were."

With the satisfaction of a duke who enumerates his ancestors, the
Senor Esteban carried back the line of the Lunas till it became misty
and was lost in the fifteenth century. His father had known Don
Francisco III. Lorenzana, a magnificent and prodigal prince of the
church, who spent the abundant revenues of the archbishopric in
building palaces and editing books, like a great lord of the
Renaissance. He had known also the first Cardinal Bourbon, Don Luis
II., and used to narrate the romantic life of this Infante. Brother of
the King Carlos III., the custom that dedicated some of the younger
branches to the church had made him a cardinal at nine years old. But
that good lord, whose portrait hung in the Chapter House, with white
hair, red lips and blue eyes, felt more inclination to the joys of
this world than to the grandeurs of the church, and he abandoned the
archbishopric to marry a lady of modest birth, quarrelling for ever
with the king, who sent him into exile. And the old Luna, leaping
from ancestor to ancestor through the long centuries, remembered the
Archduke Alberto, who resigned the Toledan mitre to become Governor of
the Low Countries, and the magnificent Cardinal Tavera, protector
of the arts, all excellent princes, who had treated his family
affectionately, recognising their secular adhesion to the Holy
Metropolitan Church.

The days of his youth were bad ones for the Senor Esteban; it was the
time of the war of Independence. The French occupied Toledo, entering
into the Cathedral like pagans, rattling their swords and prying into
every corner at full High Mass. The jewels were concealed, the canons
and beneficiaries, who were now called _prebendaries_, were living
dispersed over the Peninsula. Some had taken refuge in places that
were still Spanish, others were hidden in the towns, making vows for
the speedy return of "the desired." It was pitiful to hear the choir
with its few voices; only the very timid, who were bound to their
seats and could not live away from them, had remained, and had
recognised the usurping king. The second Cardinal de Bourbon, the
gentle and insignificant Don Luis Maria, was in Cadiz, the only one of
the family remaining in Spain, and the Cortes had laid their hands
on him to give a certain dynastic appearance to their revolutionary

When the war was over and the poor cardinal returned to his seat, the
Senor Esteban was moved to pity to see his sad and childlike face,
with the small round head, and insignificant appearance; he returned
discouraged and disheartened, after receiving his nephew Ferdinand
VII. in Madrid. All his colleagues in the regency were either in
prison or in exile, and that he did not suffer a like fate was solely
due to his mitre and to his name. The unfortunate prelate thought
he had done good service in maintaining the interests of his family
during the war, and now he found himself accused of being Liberal, an
enemy to religion and the throne, without being able to imagine how he
had conspired against them. The poor Cardinal de Bourbon languished
sadly in his palace, devoting his revenues to works in the Cathedral,
till he died in 1823 at the beginning of the reaction, leaving his
place to Inguanzo, the tribune of absolutism, a prelate with iron-grey
whiskers, who had made his career as deputy in the Cortes at Cadiz,
attacking as deputy every sort of reform, and advocating a return to
the times of the Austrians as the surest means of saving his country.

The good gardener saluted with equal cordiality the Bourbon Cardinal,
hated by the kings, as the prelate with the whiskers, who made all
the diocese tremble with his bitter and harassing temper, and his
arrogance as a revolutionary Absolutist. For him, whoever occupied the
throne of Toledo was a perfect man, whose acts no one should dare to
discuss, and he turned a deaf ear to the murmurs of the canons and
beneficiaries, who, smoking their cigarettes in the arbour of his
garden, spoke of the genialities of this Senor de Inguanzo, and were
indignant at the Government of Ferdinand VII. not being sufficiently
firm, through fear of the foreigners, to re-establish the wholesome
tribunal of the Inquisition.

The only thing that troubled the gardener was to watch the decadence
of his beloved Cathedral. The revenues of the archbishop and of the
Chapter had been greatly wasted during the war. What had occurred was
what happens after a great flood, when the waters begin to subside
and carry everything away with them, leaving the land bare and
uninhabited. The Primacy lost many of its rights, the tenants made
themselves masters, taking advantage of the disorders of the State;
the towns refused to pay their feudal services, as though the
necessity of defending themselves and helping in the war had freed
them for ever from vassalage; further, the turbulent Cortes had
decreed the abolition of all lordships, and had very much curtailed
the enormous revenues of the Cathedral, acquired in the centuries when
the archbishops of Toledo put on their casques, and went out to fight
the Moors with double-handed swords.

Even so, a considerable fortune remained to the church of the Primacy,
and it maintained its splendour as if nothing had happened, but the
Senor Esteban scented danger from the depths of his garden, hearing
from the canons of the Liberal conspiracies, the executions by
shooting and hanging, and the exiling, to which the king Senor Don
Fernando appealed, in order to repress the audacity of the "Negros,"
the enemies of the Monarchy and of religion.

"They have tasted the sweets," said he, "and they will return--see if
they do not return, and take what is left! During the war they took
the first bite, taking from the Cathedral more than half that was
hers, and now they will come and take the rest; they will try and
catch hold of the handle of the fryingpan."

The gardener was angry at the possibility of such a thing happening.
Ay! and was it for this that so many lord archbishops of Toledo fought
against the Moors? Conquering towns, assaulting castles and annexing
pasture lands, which all came to be the property of the Cathedral,
contributing to the great splendour of God's worship! And was
everything to fall into the dirty hands of the enemies of anything
that was holy? Everything that so many faithful souls had willed to
them on their deathbeds, queens and magnates, and simple country
gentlemen, who left the best part of their fortunes to the Holy
Metropolitan Church, in the hope of saving their souls! What would
happen to the six hundred souls, big and little, clerics and seculars,
dignitaries and simple servants who lived from the revenues of the
Cathedral?.... And was this called liberty? To rob what did not
belong to them, leaving in poverty innumerable families who were now
supported by the "great pot" of the Chapter?

When the sad forebodings of the gardener began to be realised, and
Mendizabal decreed the dismemberment, the Senor Esteban thought he
would have died of rage. But the Cardinal Inguanzo did better. Placed
in his seat by the Liberals as his predecessor had been by the
Absolutists, he thought it best to die in order to take no part in
these attempts against the sacred revenues of the Church.

The Senor Luna, who was only a humble gardener, and who therefore
could not imitate the illustrious Cardinal, went on living. But every
day he felt more and more sorrowful, knowing that for shamefully low
prices, many of the Moderates, who still came to High Mass, were
stealthily acquiring to-day a house, to-morrow a farm, another day
pasture lands, properties all belonging to the Primacy, but which had
lately been put on the list of what was called national property.

Robbers! this slow subversion and sale, that rent in pieces the
revenues of the Cathedral, caused the Senor Esteban as much
indignation as though the bailiffs had entered his house in the
Claverias to remove the family furniture, each piece of which embalmed
the memory of some ancestor.

There were times in which he thought of abandoning his garden, and
going to Maestrazgo, or to the northern provinces, in search of some
of the loyal defenders of the rights of Charles V. and of the return
to the old times. He was then forty years of age, strong and active,
and though his temperament was pacific and he had never touched a
musket, he felt himself fired by the example of certain timid and
pious students, who had fled from the seminary, and were now, so it
was said, fighting in Catalonia behind the red cloak of Don Ramon

But the gardener, in order not to be alone in his big "habitacion" in
the Claverias, had married three years previously the daughter of the
sacristan, and he had now one son; besides, he could not tear himself
away from the church, he was another square block in the mountain of
stone, he moved and spoke as a man, but he felt a certainty that he
should perish at once if he left his garden. Besides, the Cathedral
would lose one of the most important props if a Luna were wanting in
its service, and he felt terrified at the bare thought of living out
of it. How could he wander over the mountains fighting, and firing
shots, when years had passed without his treading any other profane
soil beyond the little bit of street between the staircase of the
Claverias and the Puerta del Mollete?

And so he went on cultivating his garden, feeling the melancholy
satisfaction that he was at least sheltered from all the wicked
revolutionaries under the shadow of that colossus of stone, which
inspired awe and respect from its majestic age. They might curtail
the revenues of the temple, but they would be powerless against the
Christian faith of those who lived under its protection.

The garden, deaf and insensible to the revolutionary tempests that
broke over the church, continued to unfold its sombre beauty between
the arcades, the laurels grew till they reached the balustrade of the
upper cloister, and the cypresses seemed as though they aspired
to touch the roofs; the creepers twined themselves among the iron
railings, making thick lattices of verdure, and the ivy mantled the
wall of the central arbour, which was surmounted by a cap of black
slate with a rusty iron cross. After the evening choir the clergy
would come and sit in here and read, by the soft green light that
filtered through the foliage, the news from the Carlist Camp, and
discuss enthusiastically the great exploits of Cabrera, while above,
the swallows quite indifferent to human presence, circled and screamed
in the clear blue sky. The Senor Esteban would watch, standing
silently, this bat-like evening club, which was kept quietly hidden
from those belonging to the National Militia of Toledo.

When the war terminated, the last illusions of the gardener vanished,
he fell into the silence of despair and wished to know of nothing
outside the Cathedral. God had abandoned the good and faithful, and
the traitors and evil-doers were triumphant; his only consolation
was the stronghold of the temple, which had lived through so many
centuries of turmoil, and could still defy its enemies for so many

He only wished to be the gardener, to die in the upper cloister like
his forefathers, and to leave fresh Lunas to perpetuate the family
services in the Cathedral. His eldest son, Tomas, was now twelve years
old, and able to help him in the care of the garden. After an interval
of many years a second son had been born, Esteban, who, almost before
he could walk, would kneel before the images in the "habitacion,"
crying for his mother to carry him down into the church to see the

Poverty entered into the Cathedral, reducing the number of canons and
prebendaries; at the death of any of the old servants, their places
were suppressed, and a great many carpenters, masons, and glaziers
who previously had lived there as workmen specially attached to the
Primacy, and were continually working at its repairs, were dismissed.
If from time to time certain repairs were indispensable, workmen were
called in from outside, by the day; many of the "habitacions" in the
Claverias were unoccupied, and the silence of the grave reigned where
previously the population of a small town had gathered and crowded.
The Government of Madrid (and you should have seen the expression of
contempt with which the old gardener emphasised those words) was in
treaty with the Holy Father to arrange something called the Concordat.
The number of canons was limited as though the Holy Metropolitan was
a college, they were to be paid by the Government the same as the
servants, and for the maintenance of worship in this most famous
Cathedral of all Spain--which, when it formerly collected its tithe,
scarcely knew where to lock up such riches--a monthly pension of
twelve hundred pesetas was now granted.

"One thousand two hundred pesetas, Tomas!" said he to his son, a
silent boy, who took very little interest in anything but his garden.
"One thousand two hundred pesetas, when I can remember the Cathedral
having more than six millions of revenue! Bad times are in store for
us, and were I anyone else I would bring you up to an office, or
something outside the church; but the Lunas cannot desert the cause of
God, like so many traitors who have betrayed it. Here we were born,
here we must die, to the very last one of the family." And furious
with the clergy, who seemed to put a good face on the Concordat and
their salaries, thankful to have come out of the revolutionary tumults
even as well as they had done, he isolated himself in his garden,
locking the door in the iron railing, and shrinking from the
assemblies of former times!

His little floral world did not change, its sombre verdure was like
the twilight that had enveloped the gardener's soul. It had not the
brilliant gaiety, overflowing with colours and scents of a garden in
the open, bathed in full sunlight, but it had the shady and melancholy
beauty of a conventual garden between four walls, with no more light
than what came through the eaves and the arcades, and no other birds
but those flying above, who looked with wonder at this little paradise
at the bottom of a well. The vegetation was the same as that of the
Greek landscapes, and of the idylls of the Greek poets--laurels,
cypress and roses, but the arches that surrounded it, with their
alleys paved with great slabs of granite in whose interstices wreaths
of grass grew, the cross of its central arbour, the mouldy smell of
the old iron railings, and the damp of the stone buttresses coloured a
soft green by the rain, gave the garden an atmosphere of reverend age
and a character of its own.

The trees waved in the wind like censers, the flowers, pale and
languid with an anaemic beauty, smelt of incense, as though the air
wafted through the doors of the Cathedral had changed their natural

The rain, trickling from the gargoyles and gutters of the roofs, was
collected in two large and deep stone tanks; sometimes the gardener's
pail would disturb their green covering, letting one perceive for an
instant the blue-blackness of their depths, but as soon as the circles
disappeared, the vegetation once more drew together and covered them
over afresh, without a movement, without a ripple, quiet and dead as
the temple itself in the stillness of the evening.

At the feast of Corpus, and that of the Virgin of the Sagrario in the
middle of August, the townspeople brought their pitchers into the
garden, and the Senor Esteban allowed them to be filled from these two
cisterns. It was an ancient custom and one much appreciated by the
old Toledans, who thought much of the fresh water of the Cathedral,
condemned as they were during the rest of the year to drink the red
and muddy liquid of the Tagus. At other times people came into the
garden to give little presents to Senor Esteban, the devout entrusted
him with palms for their images, or bought little bunches of flowers,
believing them to be better than those they could buy at the farms,
because they came from the Metropolitan Church, and the old women
begged branches of laurel for flavouring and for household medicines.
These incomings, and the two pesetas that the Chapter had assigned to
the gardener after the final dismemberment, helped the Senor Esteban
and his family to get on. When he was getting well on in years his
third son Gabriel was born, a child who from his fourth year attracted
the attention of all the women in the Claverias; his mother affirmed
with a blind faith that he was a living image of the Child Jesus that
the Virgin of the Sagrario held in her arms. Her sister Tomasa, who
was married to the "Virgin's Blue," and was the mother of a numerous
family which occupied nearly the half of the upper cloister, talked a
great deal about the intelligence of her little nephew, when he could
hardly speak, and about the infantile unction with which he gazed at
the images.

"He looks like a saint," she said to her friends. "You should see how
seriously he says his prayers.... Gabrielillo will become somebody;
who knows if we may not see him a bishop! Acolytes that I knew when
my father had charge of the sacristy now wear the mitre, and possibly
some day we may have one of them in Toledo."

The chorus of caresses and praises surrounded the first years of the
child like a cloud of incense; the family only lived for him, the
Senor Esteban, a father in the good old Latin style who loved his
sons, but was severe and stern with them in order that they might grow
up honourable, felt in the presence of the child a return of his own
youth; he played with him, and lent himself smilingly to all his
little caprices; his mother abandoned her household duties to please
him, and his brother hung on his babbling words. The eldest, Tomas,
the silent youth who had taken the place of his father in the care of
the garden, and who even in the depths of winter went barefooted over
the flower-beds and rough stones of the alleys, came up often bringing
handfuls of sweet-scented herbs, so that his little brother might play
with them. Esteban, the second, who was now thirteen and who enjoyed
a certain notoriety among the other acolytes on account of his
scrupulous care in assisting at the mass, delighted Gabriel with his
red cassock and his pleated tunic, and brought him taper ends and
little coloured prints, abstracted from the breviary of some canon.

Now and then he carried him in his arms to the store-room of the
giants, an immense room between the buttresses and the arches of the
nave, vaulted with stone. Here were the heroes of the ancient
feasts and holidays. The Cid with a huge sword, and four set pieces
representing as many parts of the world: huge figures with dusty and
tattered clothes and broken faces, which had once rejoiced the streets
of Toledo, and were now rotting under the roofs of its Cathedral. In
one corner reposed the Tarasca, a frightful monster of cardboard,
which terrified Gabriel when it opened its jaws, while on its wrinkled
back sat smiling, idiotically, a dishevelled and indecent doll, whom
the religious feeling of former ages had baptised with the name of
Anne Boleyn.

When Gabriel went to school all were astonished at his progress. The
youngsters of the upper cloister who were such a trial to "Silver
Stick," the priest charged with maintaining good order among the tribe
established in the roofs of the Cathedral, looked upon the little
Gabriel as a prodigy. When he could scarcely walk he could read
easily, and at seven he began to recite his Latin, mastering it
quickly, as though he had never spoken anything else in his life, and
at ten he could argue with the clergy who frequented the gardens, and
who delighted in putting before him questions and difficulties.

The Senor Esteban, growing daily more bent and feeble, smiled
delightedly before his last work; he was going to be the glory of his
house! His name was Luna, and therefore he could aspire to anything
without fear, because even Popes had come from that family.

The canons would take the boy into the sacristy after choir, and
question him as to his studies. One of the clergy belonging to the
archbishop's household presented him to the cardinal, who, after
hearing him, gave him a handful of sugared almonds and the promise of
a scholarship, so that he could continue his studies at the seminary

The Lunas and all their relations more or less distant, who were
really nearly the whole population of the upper cloister, were
rejoiced at this promise; what else could Gabriel be but a priest? For
these people, attached to the church from the day of their birth, like
excrescences of its stones, who considered the archbishops of Toledo
as the most powerful beings in the world after the Pope, the only
profession worthy of a man of talent was the Church.

Gabriel went to the Seminary, and to all the family the Claverias
seemed quite deserted. The long, pleasant evenings in the house of
the Lunas came to an end, at which the bell-ringer, the vergers, the
sacristans and other church servants had been used to assemble, and
listen to the clear and well modulated voice of Gabriel, who read like
an angel--sometimes the lives of the saints, at other times Catholic
newspapers that came from Madrid, or chapters from a Don Quixote with
pages of vellum and antiquated writing--a venerable copy which had
been handed down in the family for generations.

Gabriel's life in the Seminary was the ordinary and monotonous life of
a hard-working student: triumphs in theological controversies, prizes
in heaps, and the satisfaction of being held up to his companions as a

Sometimes one of the canons who lectured in the seminary would come
into the garden:--

"The lad is getting on very well, Esteban; he is first in everything,
and besides, is as steady and pious as a saint. He will be the comfort
of your old age."

The gardener, always growing older and thinner, shook his head. He
should only be able to see the end of his son's career from the
heavens, should it please God to call him there. He would die before
his son's triumph; but this did not sadden him, for the family
would remain to enjoy the victory and to give thanks to God for His

Humanities, theology, canons, everything, the young man mastered with
an ease which surprised his masters, and they compared him to the
Fathers of the Church, who had attracted attention by their precocity.
He would very soon finish his studies, and they all predicted that his
Eminence would give him a professorship in the seminary, even before
he sang his first mass. His thirst for learning was insatiable, and it
seemed as though the library really belonged to him. Some evenings he
would go into the Cathedral to pursue his musical studies, and talk
with the Chapel-master and the organist, and at other times in the
hall of sacred oratory he would astound the professors and the Alumni
by the fervour and conviction with which he delivered his sermons.

"He is called to the pulpit," they said in the Cathedral garden. "He
has all the fire of the apostles; he will become a Saint Bernard or
a Bossuet. Who can tell how far this youth will go, or where he will

One of the studies which most delighted Gabriel was that of the
history of the Cathedral, and of the ecclesiastical princes who had
ruled it. All the inherent love of the Lunas for the giantess who was
their eternal mother surged up in him, but he did not love it blindly
as all his belongings did. He wished to know the why and the wherefore
of things, comparing in his books the vague old stories that he had
heard from his father, that seemed more akin to legends than to
historical facts.

The first thing that claimed his attention was the chronology of the
archbishops of Toledo--a long line of famous men, saints, warriors,
writers, princes, each with his number after his name, like the kings
of the different dynasties. At certain times they had been the real
kings of Spain. The Gothic kings in their courts were little more than
decorative figureheads that were raised or deposed according to the
exigencies of the moment. The nation was a theocratic republic, and
its true head was the Archbishop of Toledo.

Gabriel grouped the long line of famous prelates by characters. First
of all the saints, the apostles in the heroic age of Christianity,
bishops as poor as their own people, barefooted, fugitives from the
Roman persecution, and bowing their heads at last to the executioner,
firm in the hope of gaining fresh strength to the doctrine for which
they sacrificed their lives--Saint Eugenio, Melancio, Pelagio, Patruno
and other names that shone in the past scarcely breaking through the
mists of legend. Then came the archbishops of the Gothic era; those
kingly prelates who exercised that superiority over the conquering
kings by which the spiritual power succeeded in dominating the
barbarian conquerors. Miracles accompanied them to confound the
Arians, and celestial prodigies were at their orders to terrify and
crush those rude men of war. The Archbishop Montano, who lived with
his wife, and was indignant at the consequent murmurs, placed red-hot
coals in his sacred vestments the while he said mass, and did not
burn, demonstrating by this miracle the purity of his life. Saint
Ildefonso, not content with only writing books against heretics,
induced Santa Leocadia to appear to him, leaving in his hands a piece
of her mantle, and he enjoyed the further honour of this same Virgin
descending from heaven to present him with a chasuble embroidered by
her own hands. Sigiberto, many years after, had the audacity to
vest himself in this chasuble, and was in consequence deposed,
excommunicated and exiled for his temerity.

The only books that were produced in those times were written by the
prelates of Toledo. They compiled the laws, they anointed the heads
of the monarchs with the holy oil, they set up Wamba as king, they
conspired against the life of Egica, and the councils assembled in
the basilica of Santa Leocadia were political assemblies in which the
mitre was on the throne and the crown of the king at the feet of the

At the coming of the Saracen invasion the series of persecuted
prelates begins again. They did not now fear for their lives as during
the time of Roman intolerance; for Mussulmen as a rule do not martyr,
and furthermore, they respect the beliefs of the conquered.

All the churches in Toledo remained in the hands of the Christian
Muzarabes[1] with the exception of the Cathedral, which was converted
into the principal mosque.

[Footnote 1: Muzarabes--Christians living among the Moors and mixing
with them; also an ancient form of service still continued in one
chapel in Toledo and in one at Salamanca.]

The Catholic bishops were respected by the Moors, as were also the
Hebrew rabbis; but the Church was poor, and the continual wars between
the Saracens and the Christians, together with the reprisals which set
a seal on the barbarities of the reconquest, made the continuance and
life of worship extremely difficult.

Having arrived at this point Gabriel read the obscure names of Cixila,
Elipando and Wistremiro. Saint Eulogio termed this last "the torch of
the Holy Spirit, and the light of Spain"; but history is silent as to
his deeds, and Saint Eulogio was martyred and killed by the Moors
in Cordova on account of his excessive religious zeal. Benito,
a Frenchman who succeeded to the chair, not to be behind his
predecessors, made the Virgin send him down another chasuble to a
church in his own country before he came to Toledo.

After these, came the interesting chronology of the warrior
archbishops, warriors of coat-of-mail and two-edged sword, the
conquerors who, leaving the choir to the meek and humble, mounted
their war-horses and thought they were not serving God unless during
the year they added sundry towns and pasture lands to the goods of the
Church. They arrived in the eleventh century, with Alfonso VI., to the
conquest of Toledo. The first were French monks from the famous Abbey
of Cluny, sent by the Abbot Hugo to the convent of Sahagun, and they
were the first to use the "don" as a sign of lordship. To the pious
tolerance of the preceding bishops, accustomed to friendly intercourse
with Arabs and Jews in the full liberty of the Muzarabe worship,
succeeded the ferocious intolerance of the Christian conqueror. The
Archbishop Don Bernardo was scarcely seated in the chair before he
took advantage of the absence of Alfonso VI. to violate all his
promises. The principal mosque had remained in the hands of the Moors
by a solemn compact with the king, who, like all the monarchs of the
reconquest, was tolerant in matters of religion. The archbishop,
using his powerful influence over the mind of the queen, made her
the accomplice of his plans, and one night, followed by clergy and
workmen, he knocked down the doors of the mosque, cleansed it and
purified it, and next morning when the Saracens came to pray towards
the rising sun, they found it changed into a Catholic cathedral. The
conquered, trusting in the word given by the conqueror, protested,
scandalised, and that they did not rise was solely due to the
influence of the Alfaqui Abu-Walid, who trusted that the king would
fulfil his promises. In three days Alfonso VI. arrived in Toledo from
the further end of Castille, ready to murder the archbishop and even
his own wife for their share in this villainy that had compromised his
word as a cavalier, but his fury was so great that even the Moors were
moved, and the Alfaqui went out to meet him, begging him to condone
the deed as it was accomplished, as the injured parties would agree to
it, and in the name of the conquered he relieved him from keeping his
word, because the possession of a building was not a sufficient reason
for breaking the peace.

Gabriel admired as he read the prudence and moderation of the good
Moor Abu-Walid; but with his enthusiasm as a seminarist he admired
still more those proud, intolerant and warlike prelates, who trampled
laws and people under foot for the greater glory of God.

The Archbishop Martin was Captain-General against the Moors in
Andalusia, conquering towns, and he accompanied Alfonso VIII. to the
battle of Alarcos. The famous prelate Don Rodrigo wrote the chronicle
of Spain, filling it with miracles for the greater prosperity of the
Church, and he practically made history, passing more time on his
war-horse than on his throne in the choir. At the battle de las Navas
he set so fine an example, throwing himself into the thick of the
fight, that the king gave him twenty lordships as well as that of
Talavera de la Reina. Afterwards, in the king's absence, he drove
the Moors out of Quesada and Cazorla, taking possession of vast
territories, which passed under his sway, with the name of the
Adelantamiento.[1] Don Sancho, son of Don Jaime of Aragon, and brother
to the Queen of Castille, thought more of his title of "Chief Leader"
than of his mitre of Toledo, and on the advance of the Moors went out
to meet them in the martial field. He fought wherever the fighting was
fiercest, and was finally killed by the Moslems, who cut off his hands
and placed his head on a spear.

[Footnote 1: _Adelantamiento_--Advancement.]

Don Gil de Albornoz, the famous cardinal, went to Italy, flying from
Don Pedro the Cruel, and, like a great captain, reconquered all the
territory of the Popes, who had taken refuge in Avignon. Don Gutierre
III. went with Don Juan II. to fight against the Moors. Don Alfonso de
Acuna fought in the civil war during the reign of Enrique IV.; and as
a fitting end to this series of political and conquering prelates,
rich and powerful as true princes, there arose the Cardinal Mendoza,
who fought at the battle of Toro, and at the conquest of Granada,
afterwards governing that kingdom; and Jimenez de Cisneros, who,
finding no Moors left in the Peninsula to fight, crossed the sea and
went to Oran, waving his cross and turning it into a weapon of war.

The seminarist admired these men, magnified by the mists of ancient
history and the praises of the Church. For him they were the greatest
men in the world after the Popes, and, indeed, often far superior to
them. He was astonished that the Spaniards of the present times were
so blind that they did not entrust their direction and government to
the archbishops of Toledo, who in former centuries had performed
such heroic deeds. The glory and advancement of the country was so
intimately connected with their history, their dynasty was quite as
great as that of the kings, and on more than one occasion they had
saved these latter by their counsels and energy.

After these eagles came the birds of prey; after the prelates with
their iron morions and their coats-of-mail came the rich and luxurious
prelates, who cared for no other combats but those of the law courts,
and were in perpetual litigation with towns, guilds, and private
individuals in order to retain the possessions and the vast fortune
accumulated by their predecessors.

Those who were generous like Tavera built palaces, and encouraged
artists like El Greco, Berruguete and others, creating a Renaissance
in Toledo, an echo from Italy. Those who were miserly, like Quiroga,
reduced the expenses of the pompous church, to turn themselves into
money-lenders to the kings, giving millions of ducats to those
Austrian monarchs on whose dominions the sun never set, but who,
nevertheless, found themselves obliged to beg almost as soon as their
galleons returned from their voyages to America.

The Cathedral was the work of these priestly ecclesiastics; each one
had done something in it which revealed his character. The rougher
and more warlike its framework, that mountain of stone and wood which
formed its skeleton; those who were more cultivated, elevated to the
See in times of greater refinement, contributed the minutely-worked
iron railings, the doors of lace-like stonework, the pictures, and
the jewels which made its sacristy a veritable treasure house. The
gestation of the giantess had lasted for three centuries; it seemed
like those enormous prehistoric animals who slept so long in their
mother's womb before seeing the light.

When its walls and pilasters first rose above the soil Gothic art was
in its first epoch, and during the two and a half centuries that its
building lasted architecture made great strides. Gabriel could follow
this slow transformation with his mind's eye as he studied the
building, discovering the various signs of its evolution.

The magnificent church was like a giantess whose feet were shod with
rough shoes, but whose head was covered with the loveliest plumes. The
bases of the pillars were rough and devoid of ornament, the shafts of
the columns rose with severe simplicity, crowned by plain capitals
at the base of the arches, on which the Gothic thistle had not yet
attained the exuberant branching of a later florid period; but the
vaulting which was finished perhaps two centuries after the first
beginning, and the windows with their multi-coloured ogives, displayed
the magnificence of an art at its culminating point.

At the two extreme ends of the transepts Gabriel found the proof
of the immense progress made during the two centuries in which the
Cathedral had been rising from the ground. The Puerta del Reloj[1],
called also de la Feria[2], with its rude sculptures of archaic
rigidity, and the tympanum, covered with small scenes from the
creation, was a great contrast to the doorway at the opposite end
of the crossway, that of Los Leones[3], or by its other name, de la
Alegria[4], built nearly two hundred years afterwards, elegant and
majestic as the entrance to a palace, showing already the fleshly
audacities of the Renaissance, endeavouring to thrust themselves into
the severity of Christian architecture, a siren fastened to the door
by her curling tail serving as an example.

[Footnote 1: _Reloj_--Clock.]

[Footnote 2: _Feria_--Of the fair.]

[Footnote 3: _Los Leones_--Lions.]

[Footnote 4: _Alegria_--Joy.]

The Cathedral, built entirely of a milky white stone from the quarries
close to Toledo, rose in one single elevation from the base of the
pillars to the vaulting, with no triforium to cut its arcades and to
weaken and load the naves with superimposed arches. Gabriel saw in
this a petrified symbol of prayer, rising direct to Heaven, without
assistance or support. The smooth, soft stone was used throughout
the building, harder stone being used for the vaultings, and on
the exterior the buttresses and pinnacles, as well as the flying
buttresses like small bridges between them, were of the hardest
granite, which from age had taken a golden colour, and which protected
and supported the airy delicacy of the interior. The two sorts of
stone made a great contrast in the appearance of the Cathedral, dark
and reddish outside, white and delicate inside.

The seminarist found examples of every sort of architecture that had
flourished in the Peninsula. The primitive Gothic was found in the
earliest doorways, the florid in those del Perdon and de los Leones,
and the Arab architecture showed its graceful horseshoe arches in the
triforium running round the whole abside of the choir, which was the
work of Cisneros, who, though he burnt the Moslem books, introduced

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