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The Shadow of the Cathedral by Vicente Blasco Ibanez

Part 2 out of 6

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their style of architecture into the heart of the Christian temple.
The plateresque style showed its fanciful grace in the door of the
cloister, and even the chirruguesque showed at its best in the famous
lanthorn of Tome, which broke the vaulting behind the high altar in
order to give light to the abside.

In the evenings of the vacation Gabriel would leave the seminary,
and wander about the Cathedral till the hour at which its doors were
closed. He delighted in walking through the naves and behind the high
altar, the darkest and most silent spot in the whole church. Here
slept a great part of the history of Spain. Behind the locked gates of
the chapel of the kings, guarded by the stone heralds on pedestals,
lay the kings of Castille in their tombs, their effigies crowned, in
golden armour, praying, with their swords by their sides. He would
stop before the chapel of Santiago, admiring through the railings of
its three pointed arches the legendary saint, dressed as a pilgrim,
holding his sword on high, and tramping on Mahomedans with his
war-horse. Great shells and red shields with a silver moon adorned the
white walls, rising up to the vaulting, and this chapel his father,
the gardener, regarded as his own peculiar property. It was that of
the Lunas, and though some people laughed at the relationship, there
lay his illustrious progenitors, Don Alvaro and his wife, on their
monumental tombs. That of Dona Juana Pimental had at its four corners
the figures of four kneeling friars in yellow marble, who watched over
the noble lady extended on the upper part of the monument. That of
the unhappy constable of Castille was surrounded by four knights of
Santiago, wrapped in the mantle of their Order, seeming to keep guard
over their grand master, who lay buried without his head in the stone
sarcophagus, bordered with Gothic mouldings. Gabriel remembered what
he had heard his father relate about the recumbent statue of Don
Alvaro. In former times the statue had been of bronze, and when mass
was said in the chapel, at the elevation of the Host, the statue, by
means of secret springs, would rise and remain kneeling till the
end of the ceremony. Some said that the Catholic queen caused the
disappearance of this theatrical statue, believing that it disturbed
the prayers of the faithful; others said that some soldiers, enemies
of the constable, on a day of disturbance, had broken in pieces the
jointed statue. On the exterior of the church the chapel of the Lunas
raised its battlemented towers, forming an isolated fortress inside
the Cathedral.

In spite of his family considering this chapel as their own, the
seminarist felt himself more attracted by that of Saint Ildefonso
close by, which contained the tomb of the Cardinal Albornoz. Of all
the great past in the Cathedral, that which excited his greatest
admiration was the romantic figure of this warlike prelate; lover of
letters, Spanish by birth, and Italian by his conquests. He slept in a
splendid marble tomb, shining and polished by age, and of a soft
fawn colour; the invisible hand of time had treated the face of the
recumbent effigy rather roughly, flattening the nose, and giving the
warlike cardinal an expression of almost Mongolian ferocity. Four
lions guarded the remains of the prelate. Everything in him was
extraordinary and adventurous even to his death. His body was brought
back from Italy to Spain with prayers and hymns, carried on the
shoulders of the entire population, who went out to meet it in order
to gain the indulgences granted by the Pope. This return journey to
his own country after his death lasted several months, as the good
cardinal only went by short journeys from church to church, preceded
by a picture of Christ, which now adorns his chapel, and spreading
among the multitude the sweet scent of his embalming.

For Don Gil de Albornoz nothing seemed impossible; he was the sword of
the Apostle returned to earth in order to enforce faith. Flying from
Don Pedro the Cruel, he had taken refuge in Avignon, where lived
exiles even more illustrious than himself. There were the Popes driven
out of Rome by a people who, in their mediaeval nightmare, tried to
restore at the bidding of Rienzi the ancient republic of the Consuls.
Don Gil was not a man to live long in the pleasant little Provencal
court; like a good archbishop of Toledo, he wore the coat-of-mail
underneath his tunic, and as there were no Moors to fight he wished to
strike at heretics instead. He went to Italy as the champion of the
Church; all the adventurers of Europe and the bandits of the country
formed his army. He killed and burnt in the country, entered and
sacked the towns, all in the name of the Sovereign Pontiff, so that
before long the exile of Avignon was again able to return and occupy
his throne in Rome. The Spanish cardinal after all these campaigns,
which gave half Italy to the Papacy, was as rich as any king, and he
founded the celebrated Spanish college in Bologna. The Pope, well
aware of his robberies and rapacity, asked him to give some sort of
accounts. The proud Don Gil presented him with a cart laden with keys
and bolts.

"These," said he proudly, "belong to the towns and castles I have
gained for the Papacy. These are my accounts."

The irresistible glamour that a powerful warrior throws over a man
physically feeble was strongly felt by Gabriel, and it was augmented
by the thought that so much bravery and haughtiness had been joined
in a servant of the Church. Why could not men like this arise now, in
these impious times, to give fresh strength to Catholicism?

In his strolls through the Cathedral Gabriel greatly admired the
screen before the high altar, a wonderful work of Villalpando, with
its foliage of old gold, and its black bars with silvery spots like
tin. These spots made the beggars and guides in the church declare
that all the screen was made of silver, but that the canons had had
it painted black so that it might not be plundered by Napoleon's

Behind it shone the majestic decorations of the high altar, splendid
with soft old gilding, and a whole host of figures under carved
canopies representing various scenes from the Passion. Behind the
altar and the screen the gilding seemed to spring spontaneously from
the white walls, marking with brilliant lights the divisions between
the stalls. Beneath highly-decorated pointed arches were the tombs of
the most ancient kings of Castille, and that of the Cardinal Mendoza.

Under the arches of the triforium an orchestra of Gothic angels with
stiff dalmatics and folded wings sang lauds, playing lutes and flutes,
and in the central parts of the pillars the statues of holy bishops
were interspersed with those of historical and legendary personages.

On one side the good Alfaqui Abu-Walid, immortalised in a Christian
church for his tolerant spirit, on the opposite side the mysterious
leader of Las Navas who, after showing the Christians the way to
victory, suddenly disappeared like a divine envoy--a statue of
exceeding ugliness with a haggard face covered by a rough hood. At
either end of the screen stood as evidences of the past opulence of
the church two beautiful pulpits of rich marbles and chiselled bronze.

Gabriel cast a glance at the choir, admiring the beautiful stalls
belonging to the canons, and he thought enthusiastically that perhaps
some day he might succeed in gaining one to the great pride of his
family. In his wanderings about the church he would often stop before
the immense fresco of Saint Christopher, a picture as bad as it
was huge--a figure occupying all one division of the wall from the
pavement to the cornice, and which by its size seemed to be the
only fitting inhabitant of the church. The cadets would come in the
evenings to look at it; that colossus of pink flesh, bearing the child
on its shoulders, advancing its angular legs carefully through the
waters, leaning on a palm tree that looked like a broom, was for them
by far the most noticeable thing in the church. The light-hearted
young men delighted in measuring its ankles with their swords and
afterwards calculating how many swords high the blessed giant could
be. It was the readiest application that they could make of those
mathematical calculations with which they were so much worried in the
academy. The apprentice of the church was irritated at the impudence
with which these dressed up popinjays, the apprentices of war,
sauntered about the church.

Many mornings he would go to the Muzarabe Chapel, following
attentively the ancient ritual,[1] intoned by the priests especially
devoted to it. On the walls were represented in brilliant colours
scenes from the conquest of Oran by the great Cisneros. As Gabriel
listened to the monotonous singing of the Muzarabe priests he
remembered the quarrels during the time of Alfonso VI. between the
Roman liturgy and that of Toledo--the foreign worship and the national
one. The believers, to end the eternal disputes, appealed to the
"Judgment of God." The king named the Roman champion, and the Toledans
confided the defence of their Gothic rite to the sword of Juan Ruiz,
a nobleman from the borders of Pisuerga. The champion of the Gothic
breviary remained triumphant in the fight, demonstrating its
superiority with magnificent sword thrusts, but, in spite of the will
of God having been manifested in this warlike way, the Roman rite by
slow degrees became master of the situation, till at last the Muzarabe
ritual was relegated to this small chapel as a curious relic of the

[Footnote 1: The Muzarabe ritual is still sung in Arabic both in
Toledo and Salamanca.]

Sometimes in the evenings, when the services were ended and the
Cathedral was locked up, Gabriel would go up to the abode of the
bell-ringer, stopping on the gallery above the door del Perdon.
Mariano, the bell-ringer's son, a youth of the same age as the
seminarist, and attached to him by the respect and admiration his
talents inspired, would act as guide in their excursions to the upper
regions of the church; they would possess themselves of the key of the
vaultings and explore that mysterious locality to which only a few
workmen ascended from time to time.

The Cathedral was ugly and commonplace seen from above. In the very
early days the stone vaultings had remained uncovered, with no other
concealment beyond the light-looking carved balustrade, but the rain
had begun to damage them, threatening their destruction, and so the
Chapter had covered the Cathedral with a roof of brown tiles, which
gave the Church the appearance of a huge warehouse or a great barn.
The pinnacles of the buttresses seemed ashamed to appear above this
ugly covering, the flying buttresses became lost and disappeared among
the bare-looking buildings, built on to the Cathedral, and the little
staircase turrets became hidden behind this clumsy mass of roofing.

The two youths climbing along the cornices, green and slippery from
the rain, would mount to quite the upper parts of the building. Their
feet would become entangled in the plants that a luxuriant nature
allowed to grow amid the joints of the stones, flocks of birds would
fly away at their approach; all the sculptures seemed to serve as
resting-places for their nests, and every hollow in the stone where
the rain-water collected was a miniature lake where the birds came
to drink; sometimes a large black bird would settle on one of the
pinnacles like an unexpected finial; it was a raven who settled there
to plume his wings, and it would remain there sunning itself for
hours; to the people who saw it from below it appeared about the size
of a fly.

These vaultings caused Gabriel a strange impression; no one could
guess the existence of such a place in the upper regions of the
building. He would walk through the forest of worm-eaten posts which
supported the roof, through narrow passages between the cupolas of the
vaulting that arose from the flooring like white and dusty tumours;
sometimes there would be a shaft through which he could see down into
the Cathedral, the depth of which made him giddy. These shafts were
like narrow well-mouths at the bottom of which could be seen people
walking like ants on the tile flooring of the church. Through these
shafts were lowered the ropes of the great chandeliers, and the golden
chains that supported the figure of Christ above the railing of the
high altar. Enormous capstans showed through the twilight their cogged
and rusty wheels, their levers and ropes like forgotten instruments
of torture. This was the hidden machinery belonging to the great
religious festivals; by these artifices the magnificent canopy of the
holy week was raised and fastened.

As the sun's rays shone in between the wooden posts the dust of ages
that lay like a thick mantel on the roof of the vaulting would rise
and dance in them for a few seconds, and the huge old spiders' webs
would wave like fans in the wind, while the footsteps of the intruders
would occasion wild and precipitous scrambles of rats from all the
dark corners. In the furthest and darkest corners roosted those black
birds who by night flew down into the church through the shafts in
the vaulting, and the eyes of the owls glowed with phosphorescent
brilliancy, while the bats flew sleepily about sweeping the faces of
the lads with their wings.

The bell-ringer's son would examine the deposits dropped in the dust,
and would enumerate all the different birds who took refuge in the
summit of the mountains of stone: this belonged to the hooting owl,
and that to the red owl, and this again to the raven, and he spoke
with respect of a certain nest of eagles that his father had seen as a
young man, fierce birds who had endeavoured to tear out his eyes,
and who had so thoroughly frightened him that he had been obliged to
borrow the gun belonging to the night watchers on each occasion that
his duties took him to the roof.

Gabriel loved that strange world, harbouring above the Cathedral with
its silence and its imposing solitude. It was a wilderness of wood,
inhabited by strange creatures who lived unnoticed and forgotten under
the roof-tree of the church. Truly the good God had a house for the
faithful down below, and an immense garret above for the creatures of
the air.

The savage solitude of the higher regions was a great contrast to the
wealth of the chapel of the Ochava, full of relics in golden vessels
and caskets of enamel and precious marbles, to the quantities of
pearls and emeralds in the magnificent treasury, heaped up as though
they had been peas, and to the elegant luxury of the wardrobe, full
of rare and costly stuffs and vestments exquisitely embroidered with
every colour of the rainbow.

Gabriel was just eighteen when he lost his father. The old gardener
died quietly, happy in seeing all his family in the service of the
Cathedral and the good old tradition of the Lunas continued without
interruption. Thomas, the eldest son, remained in the garden, Esteban,
after serving many years as acolyte and assistant to the sacristans,
was Silenciario, and had been given the Wooden Staff and seven reals
a day, the height of all his ambition; and as far as regarded the
youngest, the good Senor Esteban had the firm conviction that he
had begotten a Father of the Church, for whom a place in heaven was
especially reserved at the right hand of God Omnipotent.

Gabriel had acquired in the seminary that ecclesiastic sternness that
turns the priest into a warrior more intent on the interest of the
Church than on the concerns of his family. For this reason he did
not feel the death of his father very greatly; besides, much greater
misfortunes soon occurred to preoccupy the young seminarist.


There was great excitement both in the Cathedral and in the seminary,
everyone discussing from morning till night the news from Madrid, for
these were the days of the September revolution. The traditional and
healthy Spain, the Spain of the great historical tradition had fallen.
The Cortes Constituyentes were a volcano, a breath from the infernal
regions, to those gentlemen of the black cassock who crowded round the
unfolded newspaper, and, if they found comfort and satisfaction in a
speech of Maesterola's they would suffer the agonies of death at the
revolutionary harangues, which dealt such terrible blows at the olden
days. The clergy had turned their eyes towards Don Carlos, who
was beginning the war in the northern provinces; the king of the
Vascongados[1] mountains would be able to remedy everything when he
came down into the plains of Castille. But years passed by, Amadeus
had come and gone, they had even proclaimed a republic! And yet the
cause of God did not seem to advance much, and Heaven seemed deaf. A
republican deputy proclaimed a war against God, challenging Him to
silence him; and so impiety stalked along immune and triumphant, and
its eloquence flowed abroad like a poisonous spring.

[Footnote 1: Provinces of Alava, Guipuscoa, and the lordship of

Gabriel lived in a state of bellicose excitement--he forgot his books,
he disregarded his future, he never thought now of singing his mass.
What would happen to his career now that the Church was in peril, and
that the sleepy poetry of past ages, that had enveloped him from his
cradle like a perfumed cloud of old incense and dried roses, was on
the point of vanishing?

Often some of the pupils disappeared from the seminary, and the
professors would reply to the inquiries of the curious with a sly

"They have gone out--with the good sort. They could not see quietly
what was happening--'child's play,' 'follies.'"

But nevertheless such follies made them smile with paternal

He thought to be himself among those who fled, as the world seemed
to be coming to an end. In certain towns the revolutionary mob had
invaded and profaned the churches; as yet they had not murdered any of
the ministers of God as in other revolutions, but still the priests
were unable to go about the streets in their cassocks for fear of
being hooted and insulted. The remembrance of the archbishops of
Toledo, those brave ecclesiastical princes, implacable warriors
against the infidels, fired his warlike feelings. As yet he had never
been away from Toledo, away from the shadow of its Cathedral; Spain
seemed to him as vast as all the rest of the world put together, and
he began to feel the ardent desire of seeing something new, of seeing
closer all the wonderful things he had read about in his books,
stirring within him.

One day he kissed his mother's hand, without feeling any very great
emotion towards the trembling and nearly blind old woman, for the
seminary had for him more tender memories than the house of his
fathers, smoked his last cigar with his brothers in the garden without
revealing his intentions to them, and that night he fled from Toledo
with a scapulary of the Heart of Jesus sewed into his waistcoat, and a
beautiful silk scarf in his wallet, one of those worked by white hands
in the convents of the city. The son of the bell-ringer went with
him. They joined one of the insignificant bands who were devastating
Murcia, but they soon went on to Valencia and Catalonia, anxious to
perform greater exploits for the cause of God than merely stealing
mules and extorting contributions from the rich.

Gabriel felt an intense delight in this wandering life, with its
continual alarms owing to the proximity of the troops.

He had been made an officer at once, on account of his education, and
because of the letters of recommendation that certain of the prebends
of the Metropolitan Church had given him; letters lamenting greatly
that a youth of so much theological promise should go and risk his
life like a simple sacristan.

Luna enjoyed the free and lawless life of war with the zest of a
collegian out of bounds; but he could not hide the feeling of painful
disillusion that the sight of those armies of the Faith caused him.
He had expected to find something akin to the ancient crusading
expeditions: soldiers who fought for an ideal, who bent the knee
before beginning the fight, so that God might be on their side, and
who at night, after a hard-fought field, slept the pure sleep of an
ascetic; instead of which he found an armed mob, mutinous to their
leaders, incapable of that fanaticism which rushes blindfold to death,
anxious only that the war might last as long as possible, so that they
might continue the life of lawless wandering at the expense of the
country, which they considered the best life possible; people who
at the sight of wine, women or plunder would disband themselves,
hungering, turning against their leaders.

It was the ancient life of the horde, surging up through civilisation,
the atavic custom of stealing the stranger's bread and women by force
of arms, the ancient Celtiberic love of factions and internal strife,
that only caught hold of a political pretext in order to revive.

Gabriel, with very rare exceptions, found none in those badly-armed
and worse-clothed bands who fought with a fixed idea; they were
adventurers who wished for war for the sake of war; visionaries
anxious for fortune; country lads from the fields, who in their
passive ignorance had joined the factions, just as they would have
stayed at home if they had had better counsels; simple souls who
firmly believed that in the towns they were burning and destroying
God's ministers, and who had thrown themselves into the fray so that
society should not lapse into barbarism.

The common danger, the misery of the interminable marches to deceive
the enemy, the scarcity suffered in the barren fields and on the rough
hilltops on which they took refuge, made them all equals, enthusiasts,
sceptics or rustics. They all felt the same desire to compensate
themselves for their privations, to appease the ravenous beast they
felt inside, awakened and irritated by a life of such sudden changes;
as much by the wild abundance and plundering of a sack as by the
distress endured in the long marches over interminable plains without
ever seeing the slightest sign of life. On entering a town they would
shout, "Long live religion," but on the slightest provocation they
would do this, that and the other in the name of God and all the
saints, not omitting in their filthy oaths to swear by everything most
sacred in that same religion.

Gabriel, who soon became accustomed to this wandering life, ceased
to feel shocked. The former scruples of the seminarist vanished,
smothered under the crust of the fighting man, which became hardened
with war.

The romantic figure of Dona Blanca, the king's sister-in-law passed
before him, like a person in a novel; in her romantic energy this
princess wished to emulate the deeds of the heroines of La Vendee, and
mounted on a small white horse, her pistol in her belt, and the white
scarf tied over her floating tresses, she put herself at the head of
these armed bands, who revived in the centre of the Peninsula
the strife of almost prehistoric times. The flutter of the dark
riding-habit of this heroine served as a standard to the battalions of
Zouaves, to the troop of French, German, and Italian adventurers, the
scum of all the wars on the globe, who found it pleasanter to follow
a woman anxious for fame than to enlist themselves into the foreign
legion of Algeria.

The assault of Cuenca, the sole victory of the campaign, made a deep
impression on Gabriel's memory; the troops of men wearing the scarf,
after they had knocked down the ramparts as weak as mud walls, rushed
like overflowing streams through the streets. The firing from the
windows could not stop them; they rushed in pale, with discoloured
lips and eyes brilliant with homicidal mania, the danger overcome, and
the knowledge that they were at length masters of the place drove them
mad; the doors of the houses fell under their blows, terrified men
rushed out to be pierced with bayonets in the streets, and in the
houses you could see women struggling in the arms of the assailants,
striking them in the face with one hand, while with the other they
struggled to retain their clothes.

Gabriel saw how the roughest of the mountaineers destroyed in the
Institute all the apparatus of the Cabinet of Physical Science,
breaking it in pieces. They were furious with these inventions of the
evil one, with which they thought the unbelievers communicated with
the Government of Madrid, and they smashed on the ground with the butt
ends of their muskets, and trampled with their feet, all the
gilt wheels of the apparatus, and all the discs and batteries of

The seminarist was delighted at all this destruction; he also hated,
but it was with a calm, reflective hate bred in the seminary, all
positive and material sciences, for the sum total of his reasoning was
that they came perilously near to the negation of God; those sons of
the mountains in their blessed ignorance, had without knowing it done
a great deed. Ah! if only the whole nation would imitate them! In
former times there were none of these ridiculous inventions of
science, and Spain was far happier. To live a holy life, the learning
of the priests and the ignorance of the people was sufficient, for
both together produced a blessed tranquillity; what did they want
more? For so the country had existed for centuries, all through the
most glorious period of its existence.

The war came to an end, the closely pursued rebels passed through the
centre of Catalonia and were finally driven over the frontier, where
they were compelled to give up their arms to the French custom-house
officers. Many availed themselves of the amnesty, anxious to return to
their own homes. Mariano, the bell-ringer, was one of these. He did
not wish to live in a foreign land; besides, during his absence his
father had died, and it was extremely probable that he might succeed
to the charge of the Cathedral tower if he laid due stress on the
merits of his family, his three years' campaigning for the sake of
religion, and a wound he had received in his leg; he would really be
able to compare himself with the martyrs for Christianity.

Gabriel preferred emigration. "He was an officer and therefore
could not take the oath of allegiance to a usurping dynasty." This
declaration he made with all the pride learnt in this caricature of an
army, which emphasised all the ceremonies of ancient warfare, and who,
ragged and shoeless as they were, with their swords by their sides,
never failed to transmit orders to each other as "high-born officer."
But the real reason which prevented Luna from returning to Toledo was
that he wished to follow the course of events, to see new countries
and different customs. To return to the Cathedral would mean to remain
there for ever, to renounce everything in life, and he, who during the
war had tasted of worldly delights, had no desire to turn his back on
them quite so soon; also he was not yet of age, so he had plenty of
time before him in which to finish his studies; the priesthood was a
sure retreat, but one to which he was in no hurry to return just at
present; besides, his mother was dead, and his brother's letters told
him of no alteration in the sleepy life of the upper cloister, beyond
that the gardener was married and that the "Wooden Staff" was courting
a girl in the Claverias, it being against all the good traditions of
these people to ally themselves with anyone outside the Cathedral.

Luna lived for more than a year in the emigrants' cantonments; his
classical education and the sympathy aroused by his youth smoothed his
path to a certain extent; he talked Latin with the French abbes, who
were delighted to hear about the war from the young theologian, and
at the same time they taught him the language of the country. These
friends procured for him Spanish lessons among the upper middle
classes who were friendly to the Church. In these days of penury he
was saved by his friendship with an old legitimist Countess, who
invited him to spend several days in her country house, introducing
the warlike seminarist to all the grave and pious friends at her
assemblies as though he had been a crusader newly returned from

Gabriel's great desire was to go to Paris; his life in France had
radically changed his ideas, he really felt as though he had fallen
into a new planet. Accustomed to the monotonous life in the seminary,
and to the nomadic existence during that mountainous and inglorious
war, he was astonished at the material progress, the refinement of
civilisation, the culture and the well-being of the people in France.
He remembered now with shame his Spanish ignorance, all that Castilian
phantasmagoria, fed by lying literature, that had made him believe
that Spain was the first country in the world, and its people the
noblest and bravest, and that all the other nations were a sort of
wretched mob, created by God to be victims of heresy, and to receive
overwhelming punishment each time that they ventured to interfere with
this privileged country, which, though it eats little and drinks less,
has yet produced the holiest saints and the greatest captains of

When Gabriel could express himself fluently in French and had
contrived to save a few francs for his journey, he went to Paris. A
friendly abbe had procured him employment as corrector of proofs in a
religious library close to Saint Sulpice. In this priestly quarter of
Paris, with its hostels for the clergy and for religious families, as
gloomy as convents, with its shops full of pious images, which flood
the globe with varnished and smiling saints, was accomplished the
great transformation of Gabriel.

This quarter of Saint Sulpice with its streets almost Spanish in their
silence and peacefulness, with the sisters in black veils gliding by
the walls of the seminary, drawn by the sound of the bells, was for
the Spanish seminarist what the road to Damascus had been for the
Apostle. The French Catholicism, cultivated, reasoning and respectful
to human progress, bewildered Gabriel, whose fierce Spanish bigotry
had taught him to despise all profane science. There was only one true
learning in the world, and that was theology. The other sciences were
only toys, only fit to amuse the eternal infancy of humanity. To know
God and to meditate on the greatness of His power, this was the only
serious study to which men could devote themselves; machinery, the
discoveries of the positive sciences, in fact everything which did not
treat of divinity and the future life, was only a bagatelle for the
amusement of fools and people of no faith.

The former seminarist, who from his earliest childhood had despised
all human progress, was stupefied when he perceived how earnestly all
French Catholicism spoke of it. In correcting the proofs of so many
religious works he could not but notice the profound respect which
this despised science inspired in the good French priests, men of such
far superior culture to that of the canons down there. And moreover he
noticed a certain humble shrinking in the representatives of religion
when they came face to face with science--a desire to please, not
to be censorious, to help on with their sympathy any conciliatory
solutions, so that dogma should not fall to the ground, finding no
place in the rapid march of events that was hurrying humanity into
the future with the whirl of its new discoveries. Entire books were
written by eminent priests with the view of adjusting and bringing
into line the revelations of the holy books and the discoveries of
modern science, even at the risk of doing some violence to the former.
The ancient and venerable Church that Gabriel had seen in his own
country, immovable in its antiquated majesty, unwilling to move a
single fold of its mantle for fear of losing some of the dust of ages,
was stirring in France, endeavouring to renew itself, throwing on one
side the ancient garments of tradition, like old rags that would turn
it into ridicule, and stretching out its hands with almost despairing
strength to catch hold of the modern achievements of science; the
great enemy of yesterday, whose appearance had been ushered in with
bonfires and shameful abjurations was triumphant to-day.

What had that fatal apple of Paradise contained, that after six
thousand years of malediction that same Church had begun to venerate
it, striving to make it forget its ancient persecutions? Why was
religion, firm as a rock throughout the centuries, which had defied
persecutions, schisms and wars, beginning to dissolve before the
discoveries of a few men, and entering into that wild current which
sought for the cause and explanation of everything? If it had the
secular support of faith, why should it seek the assistance of reason
to maintain its traditions and to justify its dogmas?

Gabriel felt the same fever of curiosity which had obliged him as a
child to bend his back over the old volumes, bound in parchment, in
the library of the seminary; he wished to be acquainted with the
mysterious perfume of that hated science which had so disturbed God's
priests, and had made them indirectly deny the beliefs of nineteen
centuries. He wished to know why the sacred books were being
dislocated and tortured in order to explain by geological periods the
creation which God had accomplished in six days. What danger did they
hope to avoid by making the divinity appear before science in order to
explain its acts and fit them into the decisions of the latter?
Whence came the instinctive fear of the religious authors of roundly
affirming miracles? attempting instead to justify them by intricate
and tentative reasonings, without daring to adduce as the decisive
proof the incomprehensibility of supernatural prodigies.

For the time being Gabriel abandoned the tranquil atmosphere of the
religious library. His reputation as a humanist had reached the ears
of an editor living near the Sorbonne, so, without leaving the left
bank of the Seine, he moved into the Latin quarter to undertake the
correction of proofs in Latin and Greek. He earned in this way twelve
francs a day--far more than those canons of Toledo, who formerly had
appeared to him as great dukes. He lived in a small inn for students
near to the School of Medicine, and his vehement discussions at night
with his fellow-lodgers over the smoke of their pipes taught him as
much as the books of that hated science. Those students who lent him
books, or who told him of those he should search for in his free
hours in the library on the hill of Saint Genevieve, laughed like
pagans at the exalted ideas of the former seminarist.

For two years young Luna did little else but read; now and again he
accompanied his friends in some escapade, throwing himself into the
free and joyous life of the Quartier, wearing out the elbows of his
sleeves on the tables of the beershops. The Mimi of Murger often
passed before him, but less melancholy than the creation of the poet,
and the ex-seminarist found his Sunday evening idylls in the woods
surrounding Paris. But Gabriel was not of an amorous temperament;
curiosity and the thirst for knowledge mastered him, and after these
escapades from which he returned fresher, and with his brain keener,
he threw himself with greater ardour into his studies.

History, true history, whose cold clearness contrasted so strongly
with that intricate morass of miracles in the chronicles that he had
read in his childhood, beat down the greater part of his beliefs.
Catholicism was no longer for him the only religion, neither could
he any longer divide the history of humanity into two periods, that
before and that after the appearance in Judea of a handful of obscure
men, who, spreading themselves over the world, preached a cosmopolitan
morality drawn from the maxims of Orientals, and from the teachings of
Greek philosophy.

Religions were for him human inventions, subject to the conditions of
existence belonging to all organisms, its generous infancy capable of
blind sacrifices, its self-contained and masterful manhood, in which
the early sweetness was changed by the authoritative imposition of its
power, and its inevitable age, with a long agony, in which the sick
man, guessing his speedy end, clings to life with all the energy of

His faith in Catholicism as the only religion disappeared completely;
losing his belief in dogmas he lost also, by inevitable logic, that
belief in the monarchy which had driven him to fight in the mountains,
and he understood clearly now the history of his country without
prejudices of race. The foreign historians showed him the sad fate of
Spain, arrested in the most critical period of her development, when
she was emerging young and strong during the most fertile period of
the Middle Ages, by the fanaticism of priests and inquisitors, and the
folly of some of her kings, who, with utterly inadequate means, wished
to revive the empire of the Caesars, draining the country for this mad
enterprise. Those people who had broken with the Papacy, turning their
backs for ever on Rome, were far happier and more prosperous than that
Spain, which slept like a beggar at the door of the Church.

At this period of his intellectual development Gabriel had an ideal,
and often of an evening he would leave his work to go and listen to
him for an hour at the College of France: this was Ernest Renan;
Gabriel admired him for a double reason, for his talent and for his
history. The great man had also passed through a seminary, and even
now had a priestly look as though he had suffered deeply from the
pressure of the ecclesiastical yoke; he was a rebel, and Gabriel felt
as though he belonged to his own family. "Truly the hammers to destroy
the temple are forged within the temple," and the law fatal to all
religions was being accomplished, when faith vanishes, and the
multitude no longer feel the fervour of early days.

Gabriel was astonished to hear how the teacher could penetrate the
intellectual development of the Hebrew people, which had served as the
basis of Christianity, as he heard him demolish bit by bit the
immense altarpiece, before which humanity had knelt for over nineteen
centuries. The Spanish seminarist revolted against his old faith with
all the impetuosity of his vehement temperament. How could he have
believed all that and have considered it the height of human wisdom!
Certainly Christianity had exercised a beneficial influence at one
period of the infancy of humanity, it had filled men's lives in the
Middle Ages when there was little to think of beyond religion, and, in
a land desolated by strife, there was no other refuge for intellectual
thought but the cathedral in the towns and the monastery in the
country. "The fairs--the assemblies for business and pleasure," said
the master, "were religious feasts; the scenic representations were
mysteries, the journeys were pilgrimages and the wars crusades." After
this the ways of life divided--religious life took one way and human
life the other. Art placed nature above the ideal, and men thought
more of earth than of heaven. Reason was born, and every advance that
it made was one step backward for faith, and at last the time arrived
when the clear-sighted, those who were anxious about the future, began
to ask themselves what the new belief was likely to be which would
replace the moribund religion. Luna had no doubts on the point--it was
science, and science alone, which could fill the vacuum caused by that
religion now dead for ever.

Influenced by the Hellenism of his master, which he assimilated
easily, being accustomed to daily intercourse with the Greek authors,
he dreamed that the humanity of the future would be an immense Athens,
an artistic and learned democracy governed by great thinkers, with
no strifes but those of the mind, with no ambition but that of
cultivating the intellect, of gentle manners, and devoted to the joys
of the mind and the culture of reason.

Of all his old beliefs, Gabriel only retained that of a creative
God from a certain superstitious scruple. His ideas were rather
disconcerted by astronomy, which he had taken up with an almost
childish eagerness, attracted by the charm of the marvellous.
That infinite space in which in olden days legions of angels had
manoeuvred, and which had served the Virgin as a pathway in her
terrestrial descents, he suddenly found to be peopled with thousands
of millions of worlds, and the more powerful men's instruments became
the more numerous they seemed to be, the distances being infinitely
prolonged to immensities that were inconceivable. Bodies were
attracted to one another travelling in space at the rate of millions
of miles a minute, and all this cloud of worlds revolved without ever
passing twice over the same spot in this immensity of silence, in
which fresh stars, and again others and others, were continually being
discovered as the instruments of observation became more perfect.

This God of Gabriel's having lost the corporeal form given to Him by
religion, and as divulged in the history of the creation, lost at once
all His attributes, and being magnified to fill the infinite and being
absorbed into it, became so impalpable and subtle to the intellect as
to appear a phantasm.

Nothing remained to Gabriel of all his ancient beliefs. His mind was
like a bare field over which the whirlwind had passed, for his last
belief, which had remained standing like a monolith in the midst of
ruins, the belief in the history of creation, had now fallen.

But it was impossible to the former seminarist to remain inactive with
his cargo of new ideas. He felt obliged to believe in something, to
devote to the defence of some ideal all the faith in his character, to
make some use of that fervour of proselytising which had been so
much admired in the class of eloquence in the seminary, and so
revolutionary sociology took possession of him. First of all it was
Proudhon with his audacious writings, and afterwards the work was
completed by some "militantes" who were working in the same printing
office as himself--old soldiers of the Commune, who had lately
returned from their exile in the prisons of Oceania, and were renewing
their campaign against social organisation with an ardour increased
tenfold by their painful sufferings and their desire of vengeance.
With them he went to the anarchist meetings; there he heard Reclus
and Prince Kropotkine, and the words of the since deceased Miquel
Bakronhine came to him as the gospel of a Saint Paul of the future.

Gabriel had met with his new religion, and he gave himself over to
it entirely, dreaming of the regeneration of humanity through its
stomach. Believing in a future life, misfortunes gave the false
consolation of happiness after death; but all religion was a lie,
there was no other life but that of the present, and Luna rose in
anger against the social injustice that condemned millions of beings
to poverty and misery for the happiness of a few privileged thousands.
Authority, which was the fount of all evil, was to him the greatest
enemy; it must be destroyed, but men must be created who were capable
of living without masters, priests or soldiers. The natural gentleness
of his character, and the horror of violence with which his three
years' campaigning had filled him, caused him rather to draw back from
his new companions, who, dreaming of hecatombs from dynamite and the
dagger to reform the world, obliged him to accept these new doctrines
through fear. No; he believed in the strength of the "idea," and in
the innocent evolution of humanity; he had only to work like the first
apostles of Christianity certain of the future, but without hurrying,
to see his ideas realised; he had only to fix his eyes on the day's
work, without thinking of the long years and centuries before it would
bear its fruit.

The ardour of his proselytising made him leave Paris at the end of
five years. He was anxious to see the world, to study for himself all
these social miseries, so as to judge what forces these disinherited
could command for their great transformation. Besides, he began to
find himself incommoded by the vigilance of the French police, on
account of his intimacy with the Russian students of the Quartier
Latin--young men with cold eyes and limp and dishevelled hair who were
endeavouring to implant in Paris the vengeances of Nihilism. In London
he came to know a young Englishwoman of weak health, but burning like
himself with all the ardour of revolutionary propaganda, who would
walk from morning till night in the lanes and surroundings of
workshops and laboratories, distributing pamphlets and printed
leaflets that she kept in a band-box that was always hanging on her
arm. In a short time Lucy became Gabriel's companion; they loved each
other without excitement, with a cold and quiet passion, more from
community of ideas than anything else, for the love of revolutionists,
dominated with the thought of rebellion against everything existing,
has not much room for any other feeling.

Luna and his companion went to Holland and thence to Belgium, settling
afterwards in Germany, always travelling from group to group of
"companions," taking up different work with that facility of
adaptation which seems universal among revolutionaries, who wander
over the world penniless, enduring every sort of privation, but
finding always in their difficulties some brotherly hand to raise them
and set them again on the path.

After eight years of this life Gabriel's friend died of consumption.
They were then in Italy, and Luna, finding himself alone, understood
for the first time how much support the gentle companion of his life
had given him. In his sorrow for the loss of Lucy he forgot for a
while his revolutionary enthusiasm, lamenting only the void left in
his life. He had not loved her as most men love, but she was his
companion, his sister, they were alike in their pleasures and their
sorrows, and their common poverty had welded them into one will.
Moreover, Gabriel felt himself aged before his time by this life
of soul-stirring adventures and painful privations. He had been
imprisoned in many places in Europe, being suspected of complicity
with the terrorists, he had often been beaten by the police, and he
began to find a difficulty in travelling about the Continent, as his
photograph figured with that of several other "companions" in the
central police offices of the principal nations. He was a vagabond and
dangerous dog, who would end by being kicked out of every place.

Gabriel could not live alone; he was accustomed to see those kind blue
eyes near him, and to hear the caressing voice with its bird-like
inflexions which had so much encouraged him in times of trial and
difficulty, and he could not endure the solitude in a strange land
after Lucy's death. A great longing for his native land awoke in him,
he wished to return to Spain, to that land he had so often ridiculed,
and which now in spite of its backwardness seemed to him so
attractive. He thought of his brothers, fixed like plants to the
stones of the Cathedral, never interesting themselves with what took
place in the world, never seeking for news of him, as though they had
entirely forgotten him.

With a sudden impulse, as though he were afraid of dying away from
his native land, he returned to Spain. In Barcelona some of the
"companions" had obtained for him the management of a printing press,
but before taking up his post he wished to spend a few days in Toledo.
He returned an old man, though he was barely forty, speaking four or
five languages, and poorer than when he had left it. He found that
his brother the gardener had died, and that the widow and her son had
taken refuge in a garret in the Claverias, where she supported herself
by washing the canon's linen. Esteban, the "Wooden Staff," received
him with the same admiration he had felt for him while in the
seminary. He talked a great deal about his travels, gathering together
all the people in the upper cloister, so that they should listen to
this man who had travelled all over the world, just as though he were
going about his own house. In their inquiries they painfully entangled
geography, as they could only comprehend two divisions in it, the
countries of heretics, and the countries of Christians.

Gabriel pitied the great poverty of these people, and admired the
humbleness of these Cathedral servants, content to live and die in the
same place, without any curiosity as to what was taking place outside
the walls. The church seemed to him a huge derelict. It was like the
petrified skeleton of one of those immense and powerful animals of
former days, that had been dead for ages, its body decayed, its soul
evaporated, and nothing left but this framework, like to the shells
found by geologists in prehistoric strata by whose structure they can
guess at the soft parts of the vanished being. Seeing the ceremonies
of worship which in former days had so moved him, he felt roused to
protest, a longing to shout to the priests and acolytes to stop, and
withdraw, as their times were passed, and faith was dead, and it was
only from routine and the fear of outside opinion that people now
frequented these places, which formerly religious fervour had filled
from morning till night.

On his arrival in Barcelona Gabriel's life was a whirlwind of
proselytising, of struggles, and of persecutions. The "companions"
respected him, seeing in him the friend of all the great propagandists
of "the idea," and one who might himself rank among the most famous
revolutionists. No meeting could be held without the "companion" Luna;
that natural eloquence which had caused such wonder on his entry into
the seminary, bubbled up and spread like an intoxicating gas in these
revolutionary assemblies, firing that ragged, hungry, and miserable
crowd, making them tremble with emotion at the description of future
societies set forth by the apostle, that celestial city of the
dreamers of all ages, without property, without vices, without
inequalities, where work would become a pleasure, and where there
would be no other worship but that of science and art. Some of his
hearers, the darker spirits, would smile with a compassionate gesture,
listening to his maledictions against authority, and his hymns to
the sweetness and triumph to be won by passive resistance. He was an
idealist, one to whom they must listen because he had served the cause
well; they who were the strong men, the fighters, knew well enough how
to crush in silence that cursed society if it should show itself deaf
to the voice of Truth.

When they exploded bombs in the streets the "companion" Luna was the
first to be surprised at the catastrophe, he was also the first to be
taken to prison on account of the popularity of his name. Oh! those
two years passed in the castle of Montjuich! They had ploughed a deep
furrow in Gabriel's memory, a deep wound that could not heal, that
made him tremble at the slightest remembrance, disturbing his calm,
and making him hot and cold with terror.

The madness of fear had taken possession of society, and all laws and
regard to humanity, were trampled under foot to defend it. The justice
of former ages, with its violent procedure was resuscitated in full
civilisation. The judge was distrusted as being too cultured and
scrupulous, and a free hand was given to the petty officers of
justice, ordering them to introduce afresh all the old instruments of

In the darkness of the night Gabriel saw his Moorish dungeon lighted
up; some men in uniform seized him and dragged him down the staircase
to a room where others were waiting with huge cudgels. A young man
with a soft voice, in the uniform of a lieutenant, and with the lazy
manners of a Creole, questioned him as to the various attempts that
had occurred months before down in the town. Gabriel knew nothing, had
seen nothing. But all the same these men were your companions; but
he, having fixed his eyes on high, contemplating his visions of the
future, had never realised that all around him this violence was
surging and germinating. His reiterated negative rendered the men
furious; the soft voice of the Creole became harsh with anger, and
with menaces and blasphemies they all threw themselves upon him, and
the cruel hunt of the man round and round the dungeon began, the
cudgels falling on his body, beat his head or his legs indifferently,
pursuing him into corners, following him as with a desperate bound he
reached the opposite wall, opening the way with his bent head, his
back resounding like an empty box beneath the blows. Now and then the
desperation of pain inflamed the victim, the lamb turned into a wild
beast, and before falling to the ground, cowering like a child before
superior numbers, he would throw himself on the executioners, tearing
them, and trying to bite them. Gabriel kept a button from the
lieutenant's uniform which had remained in his fingers after one of
these revolts of his weakness.

Afterwards, his tormentors, wearied by the inutility of their
violence, left him forgotten in the dungeon. A loaf of bread and some
bits of dry salt cod were his only food. Thirst, an infernal thirst,
racked his bowels, contracted his throat, and burnt his mouth. At
first he called piteously under the door for water, but afterwards he
would beg no more, knowing beforehand what the answer would be. It was
a calculated torture; they promised him as much water as he wished,
after he should have disclosed the names of the guilty, confessing
things of which he had no knowledge. Hunger strove in him against
thirst, but fearing this latter most, he would throw this salted food
into a corner as though it were poison. He was delirious with the
delirium of a shipwrecked man tormented with visions of fresh water
in the midst of the salt waves. In his nightmare he saw clear and
murmuring brooks, great rivers; and seeking freshness for his mouth
he would pass his tongue over the filthy walls, finding a certain
alleviation in the lime of the whitewash.

The privations and the incarceration disturbed his mind with horrible
ravings; often Gabriel was surprised at finding himself on all fours,
growling and barking opposite the door without knowing how or why.

His tormentors seemed to forget him; they had other prisoners to look
after. The jailors gave him water, but whole months passed without
anyone entering his cell. Some nights he would hear vaguely and
far off through the greasy walls wailing and sobs in the adjacent
dungeons. One morning he was awoke by sounds as of thunder, in spite
of a tiny ray of sunlight filtering through his loophole; hearing the
jailors in the corridors near, he understood the mystery. They had
been shooting some of the prisoners.

Luna received as a happiness this hope of death; he would renounce
with pleasure that shadow of a life in a small stone box, tormented by
physical pain and the fear of men's ferocity. His stomach, weakened by
all these privations, refused for many days, with horrible nausea, to
receive the bitter bread and the coppery mess. His want of exercise,
the want of air, and the bad and scanty nourishment had made him
fall into a mortal anaemia; he coughed continually, suffering great
oppression on his chest. The knowledge he had acquired of the human
body in his thirst for knowing everything did not admit of his being
mistaken; he would die as poor Lucy had died.

After a year and a half of imprisonment he appeared before a council
of war, mixed up with a mob of old men, women, and even quite young
people, all weakened and broken by imprisonment, with their skin white
and thick as chewed paper, and that dazed look in their eyes that
comes from solitary confinement. Gabriel hoped he would be executed.
When the fiscal came to the name of Luna on the long list he stopped
an instant, shooting a ferocious glance at him--this man was among the
theorists. It appeared from the declarations of witnesses that he took
no direct part in the deeds of violence, and that in his speeches he
had always deprecated them; still it must be remembered that he was
one of the principal propagandists of anarchism, and that he had
delivered speeches in all the workmen's societies frequented by the
authors of the attempts.

An elderly captain bent towards another member of the council,
speaking in his ear, but Gabriel caught his words:

"It is on these gentlemen who make speeches that we must lay our hand,
so that they may be warned not to lecture any more on Tolstoi or
Ibsen, or any of those foreign worthies who advocate throwing bombs."

Gabriel spent many months of solitary confinement in his prison.
From words now and then dropped by his jailors he could guess at the
fluctuations of his fate. Sometimes he would gather that he and all
his companions in misfortune were to be sent to the jail in Africa, or
again they would hint at his immediate liberation, or would prophesy
that they were all to be shot _en masse_. When at the end of two
years he left this gloomy castle, it was to be embarked with all his
companions for exile. He was only the shadow of a man; his weakness
made his walk as uncertain and tremulous as that of a child, but he
forgot his own misery in trying to assist those of his companions who
were even weaker than himself, and who bore the cruel scars of the
torments they had endured.

The return to liberty recalled all his former gentleness and the
philosophic pity with which he surrounded all men, pitying and
pardoning their faults. On landing in England the more violent of
his companions spoke of future vengeance on their persecutors, while
Gabriel asked pardon for them, as blind instruments employed by
society in a moment of terror, thinking they had saved it by their

The climate of London aggravated Gabriel's illness, and in about two
years he was obliged to move to the Continent, although England with
its absolute liberty was the only land where he could have lived
quietly and ignored.

His existence was a cruel one, always a fugitive through the different
countries of Europe, driven from one place to another by the vigilance
of the police, thrown into prison, or expelled on the slightest
suspicion. It was a return to the ancient persecution of the gipsies,
the constant hunting of independent people, leading vagabond lives, of
the Middle Ages. His illness and his desire for rest and peace made
him return to Spain. Time had produced a certain amount of tolerance
towards the exiles, and in Spain everything is soon forgotten, and
though the authorities are harder and less scrupulous than in other
countries, still they interfere less on account of their improvidence
and the carelessness natural to the race.

Sick and without any work by which he could earn his living, precluded
from seeking work among the printers, as his name was encircled by
a halo which terrified the masters, Gabriel fell into such extreme
poverty that the little help and succour his companions could afford
were unable to relieve it, and he travelled from end to end of the
Peninsula begging from his fellows and hiding from the police.

His spirit was broken, he was conquered, and he had no longer strength
to continue the struggle. Nothing remained for him but to die, but
merciful death came slowly to his call. He thought of his brother, the
only affection remaining to him in the world; he remembered the quiet
family in the Claverias, of which he had caught a glimpse on his last
visit to the Cathedral, and he turned to seek them as his last hope.

On his return to Toledo, he found the happy family dissolved;
misfortune had come even to that silent and stagnant corner.

But the Cathedral, insensible to all human vicissitudes was there,
the same as ever, and to it he clung, hiding himself in its recesses,
hoping to die there in peace, with no other hope but to be forgotten;
dying before his proper time, tasting the bitter happiness of
annihilation, leaving behind him at the door, like an animal who sheds
its skin, all that rebellion which had drawn upon him the hatred of

His happiness was not to think, not to speak, to mould himself to that
dead world; he would be among the living statues peopling the upper
cloister, one more automaton; he would imitate those beings who seemed
to have absorbed into themselves something of the austerity of the
granite buttresses, he would inhale like a healing balsam the scent
of the rusty iron railings and the incense that spread through the
church, the ancient perfume of the past centuries.


On leaving the cloister in the mornings soon after daybreak, the first
person Gabriel would see was Don Antolin, the "Silver Stick." This
priest exercised an authority like that of Governor of the Cathedral,
for all the lay servants were under his orders, and all the repairs of
little importance were done under his supervision.

Down below, in the church, he watched the sacristans and the acolytes,
careful that the canons and beneficiaries should have no cause of
complaint in the services. Upstairs, in the cloister, he watched over
the good behaviour and cleanliness of the families, being by the grace
of the cardinal archbishop a sort of magistrate over that little town.

He occupied the best "habitacion" in the Claverias. At the great
ceremonies he walked in front of the Chapter in his pluvial, carrying
a silver stick nearly as tall as himself, making the tiles of the
pavement re-echo with its blows. During High Mass and the choir in the
evening he walked about the naves to check any irreverence on the part
of the congregation or any inattention on that of the staff. At eight
o'clock at night in the winter, and at nine in summer, he locked the
door of the staircase leading to the upper cloister, putting the key
in his pocket, and so all the people in the cloister remained quite
isolated from the town. If now and again anyone was taken ill in the
night, it was necessary to wake Don Antolin who, plunging his hand
into the depths of his cassock, would produce his key, and deign to
restore communication with the outer world.

He was about seventy years of age, small and wizened; age had scarcely
tinged his shaven crown with grey, his forehead was broad and square,
and rose straight beneath the silk cap he wore in winter. His features
were rather drawn out, without a single wrinkle, and devoid of any
expression that showed emotion, the jaw-bone narrow and sharp, and the
eyes as inexpressive and motionless as the rest of the face, but with
a cold, penetrating glance that was extremely disconcerting.

Gabriel had known him from his childhood; he was, to use his own
expression, like a private soldier of the church, who by reason of his
years and services had attained the rank of sergeant, but who could
rise no further. When Luna first entered the seminary Don Antolin had
just been ordained priest, and since then had passed his life in the
sacristy of the Primacy where he had begun as acolyte.

On account of his absolute and irrational faith and his unbending
adhesion to the Church, the professors in the seminary had pushed him
on in his career, in spite of his ignorance; he was a son of the soil,
having been born in a village in the mountains round Toledo. The Holy
Metropolitan Church was to him the second house of God in the world,
only ranking after Saint Peter's in Rome, and all ecclesiastical
learning was to him like rays emanating from the Divine wisdom, which
blinded him, and were to be adored with the profound respect of

He had that blessed and entire want of education so appreciated by the
Church in former years. Gabriel felt sure that if Silver Stick had
been born in the flourishing times of Catholicism he would have become
a saint on dedicating himself to the spiritual life, or he would have
played an excellent part in the Inquisition on the arrival of that
militant society. Having come into the world at the wrong time, when
faith was weakened and the Church could no longer impose its laws
by violence, the good Don Antolin had remained hidden in the lower
administration of the Cathedral, assisting the Canon Obrero in the
division and assignment of the money that the State allowed to the
Primacy, giving long thought over the spending of each handful of
farthings, endeavouring that the holy house, like the ruined families,
should keep up its good outward appearance without revealing the
poverty inside.

He had been promised several times a chaplaincy of nuns, but he was
one of those faithful to the Cathedral, one of those quite in love
with the great establishment. He was proud of the confidence that the
Lord Archbishop placed in him, and of the frank friendliness
with which the canons and beneficiaries spoke to him, and of his
administrative conferences with the Obrero and the Treasurer. For this
reason he could not repress a gesture of contemptuous superiority when
having donned his pluvial, and clutching his silver stick, he advanced
and spoke to any strange clergy from the neighbouring villages who
visited the Primacy.

His faults were purely ecclesiastic; he saved in secret, with that
cold, determined avarice so usual at all times in people attached to
the Church. His greasy skull cap had been discarded as too old by its
former owner, one of the canons; his cassock of a greenish black and
his shoes had also belonged to some one of the beneficiaries; in the
Claverias they all whispered of the monies hoarded by Don Antolin,
and of his savings that were devoted to usury--loans that never went
beyond two or three duros to the poorer servants of the church ground
down by poverty, and which he recovered with interest at the beginning
of every month when they were paid by the Canon Obrero. In him avarice
and usury were joined to the most implicit honesty in regard to the
interests of the church; he would punish relentlessly the smallest
pilfering in the sacristy, and he made up his accounts for the Chapter
with a minuteness that annoyed the Obrero. To every one his own, the
church was poor and it would be a sin worthy of hell to deprive her of
a single farthing; he, as a good servant of God was poor also, and he
thought he was doing no wrong in drawing a certain profit from the
money he had gathered together by dint of bargaining, and by many
painful privations in the midst of his poverty.

His niece, Mariquita, lived with him, an ugly woman with masculine
features and a fresh colour, who had come from the mountains to look
after her uncle, of whose riches and power in the Primacy all his
relations and friends in the village talked a great deal. She rode
roughshod over all the other women in the Claverias, taking undue
advantage of Don Antolin's supreme authority. The more timid formed
round her a circle of adulation, endeavouring to evoke her protection
by cleaning her house and cooking for her, while Mariquita, dressed in
the habit, and with her hair most carefully combed--the only luxury
allowed by her uncle--loitered about the cloister hoping to meet there
some cadet, or that some of the foreigners visiting the tower or the
hall of the giants would take notice of her. She made sheep's eyes
at every man; and she, so hard and imperious to all the women, would
smile sweetly on all the bachelors living in the Claverias. The "Tato"
was a great friend of hers; he would come and visit her when her uncle
was absent in order to air his graces as apprentice to a Torrero.
Gabriel, with his delicate looks, his mysterious self-containment, and
the confused story of all his great travels about the world interested
her not less; she would even speak with marked deference to the
"Wooden Staff," as he was both a man and a widower, and, as the
"Perrero" wickedly said, the very sight of a pair of trousers nearly
drove the poor woman mad in that establishment where the greater part
of the men wore petticoats.

Don Antolin had known Gabriel since his childhood, and spoke to him in
the second person. The ignorant priest still retained the remembrance
of Luna's great triumphs obtained in the seminary, and though he saw
him so poor and ailing, taking refuge in the Cathedral almost on
charity, his "tuteo" of superiority was not free from admiration.
Gabriel, on his side, feared Silver Stick, knowing his intolerant
fanaticism. For this reason he confined himself to listening to him,
careful in their conversation that not a single word should slip in
which could betray his past. He would be the first to demand his
expulsion from the Cathedral, where he wished to live unknown and

On meeting each other in the cloister, the two men began with the same
questions every morning:

"How is your health to-day?"

Gabriel showed himself an optimist. He knew that his illness had
no remedy; still, that quiet life free from all emotions, and his
brother's care, feeding him at all hours, like a bird and almost by
force, had arrested the decay of his health. The course of the illness
was slower--death was meeting with obstacles.

"I am better, Don Antolin. And yesterday, what sort of a day had you?"

Silver Stick plunged his dirty and horny hands into the recesses of
his cassock, and produced three greasy little ticket-books, one red,
one green and the third white. He turned over the leaves, considering
the counterfoils of those he had torn out; he took the most respectful
care of these little books, as though they were far more important
than the big music books in the choir.

"A very slack day, Gabriel! Being in the winter, so few people travel.
Our best time is in the spring, when they say the English come in by
Gibraltar. They go first to the fair in Seville, and afterwards they
come to have a look at our Cathedral. Besides, in milder weather the
people come from Madrid, and although they grumble, the flies crowd
to see the giants and the big bell, then I have to hurry with the
tickets; one day, Gabriel, I took eighty duros. I remember it was at
the last 'Corpus'; Mariquita had to sew up the pockets of my cassock,
for they tore with the weight of so many pesetas; it was a blessing
from the Lord."

He looked sadly at the little books, as though regretting that many
days passed in winter when he only tore out one or two leaves. This
plan of selling entrance tickets to see the treasures and curiosities
of the Cathedral filled all his thoughts. It was the salvation of the
church, the modern proceeding to help it on, and he felt proud of
fulfilling this function, which made him one of the most important
persons in the life of the temple.

"You see these green tickets?" said he to Gabriel. "These are the
dearest, they cost two pesetas each. With these you can see everything
that is most important--the treasury, the chapel of the Virgin, and
the Ochavo with its relics which are unique in the world. The other
cathedrals are dirt compared with ours, and their relics lies, many of
them invented on account of the envy that our Holy Metropolitan Church
inspired. You see these red ones? These only cost six reals, and with
them you can visit the sacristies, the wardrobe, the chapels of Don
Alvaro de Luna and of Cardinal Albornoz, and the Chapter-house, with
its two rows of portraits of the archbishops which are wonders. Who
would not scrape their purse to see such prodigies?"

Afterwards he added, showing the last ticket book with contempt:

"These white ones are only worth two reals. They are to see the giants
and the bells. We sell a great many of those to the lower class who
come to the Cathedral on feast days. Could you believe it, but many
of the Protestants and Jews call this a robbery? The other day three
soldiers came from the Academy with some country folks to see the
giants, and they made quite a scandalous scene because we would not
let them in for an old song. As if we were asking their charity! Many
of them commit all sorts of nuisances about the Cathedral, just as
if they were heretics, to say nothing of their drawing all sorts
of abominable things and writing obscene words on the walls of the
staircase. What shocking times, eh, Gabriel? What shocking times!"

Luna smiled silently, and Silver Stick, encouraged by what seemed to
him acquiescence, went on with pride:

"And about these tickets, I invented them--that is to say, I am not
really their inventor, but their introduction into this house is owing
to me. You have travelled so much, and must have seen in those foreign
countries that everything is shown on payment. The Lord Cardinal
before this one, who is now in blessed glory (and he raised his hand
to his skull cap) had also travelled a great deal--he was quite a
'modern,' and had he lived would have ended by putting electric light
in the naves of the Cathedral. I heard him on one occasion speak of
what was done in the museums and other interesting places in Rome
and other towns; unrestricted entrance at all hours--on payment, an
immense convenience to the public, who required to get no tickets
beforehand to visit these things. So one day when the Obrero and I
were biting our nails, seeing that this miserable thousand and odd
pesetas (God forgive me!) that this unhappy State allows us, could not
possibly suffice for our monthly expenses, I propounded my idea. Now,
could you believe that some of the gentlemen in the Chapter opposed
it? Some of the young canons spoke of the sellers in the Temple, you
know who they were--certain Jews who drove the Lord out with scourges
in their hand, for I know not what misdemeanours. The older ones said
the Cathedral had always had its treasures open to all for centuries,
and so it ought to go on. All the gentlemen were quite right, but
you cannot do anything with a stupid canon, and at last the defunct
cardinal, who is now in the enjoyment of God (another tug at his cap)
interfered, and the Chapter were obliged, though with much grumbling,
to accept the reform, and they ended by praising it. In all bitter
there is a sweet! Do you know how much money I handed to the Lord
Cardinal last year? More than three thousand duros, nearly as much as
this sinful State allows us, and this without prejudice to anybody.
The public pays, they admire and they go; in any case they are only
birds of passage who come once, and when they go they do not return.
And what are four wretched pesetas, when for that money you can see
one of the most glorious churches in Christendom, the cradle of
Spanish Catholicism, the Cathedral of Toledo!"

The two men were walking in the cloister on the side warmed by the sun
at that early hour, the cleric had put away his ticket books, and his
eyes were fixed on Gabriel, who thought that to smile in his enigmatic
way, which Don Antolin accepted as assent, quite met the situation,
and it encouraged him to continue his confidences.

"Ay, Gabriel! You cannot think that my heavy duties can be fulfilled
without hard work; the Cardinal trusts me, the Chapter distinguish
me with their regard, and the Obrero has no other hope but in my
assistance. Thanks to these tickets we can carry the Cathedral along,
and keep up its ancient appearance of grandeur, so that the public
will come and admire. But we are poorer than rats, and we must be
thankful that even some crumbs are left us from the past. If the wind
or the hail break some of our glass in the naves, we can still lay our
hands on some of the stores left by the Obreros of former days. Ay,
senor! And to think there was a time when the Chapter maintained at
its own expense inside the church, cutters and painters of glass,
plumbers, and I know not what beside, so that any great works could be
undertaken without seeking any help outside the house! If one of the
tombs gets broken, even now we have quantities of borderings carved
with saints and flowers that are wonderful to see. But what will
happen when all these are finished? When the last pane of glass in
the stores has been broken, and the last fragments of carving in the
Obreria used up? We shall have to put cheap white panes in the windows
to prevent the rain and wind coming in. The Cathedral will look like
an inn--may God forgive me the comparison--and the priests of the
Primacy will praise God dressed like the chaplain of a hermitage."

And Don Antolin laughed sarcastically, as though this future that he
was anticipating was an absurd contradiction of the eternal laws.

"You will easily believe," he went on, "that they do not waste
anything, and that they make money out of every possible thing. The
garden that was for so many years in your family is now leased out by
the Chapter, since your brother's death; twenty duros a year your Aunt
Tomasa pays for her son to cultivate it, and this only because, as you
know, the old woman is such a great friend of His Eminence, as they
have known each other since they were children. I go about like a
water carrier, all round the church and the cloisters, watching that
no one plays tricks, for there are a lot of young light-hearted
people, whom you cannot trust. One minute I am in the Ochavo, watching
that your nephew the 'Tato' has sold the tickets to the foreigners
(for he is quite capable of letting them in gratis if they tip him
on leaving), and the next I am up in the cloister looking after that
shoemaker who repairs the giants; they cannot deceive me, no one
escapes me without paying; but, ay! it is a long while since I have
sung mass. You can see me at mid-day when the Cathedral is closed
reading my hours hurriedly in the cloisters, watching the clock in
order to go down the moment the church is opened, when the strangers
begin to come to see the treasury. This is not the life of a good
Catholic, and if God does not lay it to my account that I am doing it
all for the glory of His house, I fear that I shall lose my soul."

The two men walked up and down some time in silence, but Don Antolin
could not hold his tongue for long when the subject was the economic
life of the Primacy.

"And to think, Gabriel," he continued, "that having been what we were
in former times, we should have come to this! You and most of those
alive have no idea how rich this house used to be--as rich as a king,
and often far richer. From a child no one has known as you have the
history of our glorious archbishops, but of the fortune they amassed
for God, you know nothing. Of course these temporalities do not
interest learned people like you. Have you any idea what donations the
kings and great lords gave in their lifetime to our Cathedral, or the
legacies they left her on their deathbeds? You have a great deal to
learn! I know all about it, I have searched in the Obreria, in the
archives, in the library; everyone does what interests them, and I and
the Senor Obrero have often raged at the indigence of the house, but I
console myself by thinking of what we had, long before any of us were
born. We were very rich, Gabriel--very, very rich. The archbishops of
Toledo could have placed one or two crowns on their mitre, I dare not
say three, for I think of the Supreme Pontiff. First of all, there is
the Deed of Gift to the Cathedral, made by the King Alfonso VI., by
reason of his having conquered Toledo. It was made a hermitage, after
the election of the Bishop Don Bernardo, and I have seen it in the
archives with my own sinful eyes, a parchment with Gothic letters, and
at the head is written, 'The privileges of this Holy Church.' The good
king gave to the Cathedral nine towns--if I wished I could tell you
their names--several mills, and vineyards innumerable, houses and
shops in the town, and he ends by saying with all the munificence of
a Christian cavalier, 'This, therefore, in such a way I give, and I
grant to this church and to you, Bernard, Archbishop, in free and
perfect gift, that neither by homicide, nor any other calumny, shall
it ever be forfeited. Amen.' Afterwards, Don Alfonso VII. gave us
eight towns on the other side of the Guadalquiver, several ovens, two
castles, the salt works of Belinchon, and a tenth of all the money
coined in Toledo, for the vestments of the prebendaries. The VIII. of
the name showered on the Cathedral a perfect rain of gifts, towns,
villages, and mills. Illescas is ours, and a great part of Esquivias,
as also the mortgage on Talavera. Afterwards came the fighting
prelate, Don Rodrigo, who took much land from the Moors, and the
Cathedral possesses one principality, the Adelantamiento de Cazorla,
with towns like Baza, Niebla, and Alcaraz. And besides the kings there
is a great deal to be said about the nobles, great princes who showed
their generosity to the Holy Metropolitan Church. Don Lope de Haro,
Lord of Vizcaya, not content with paying the cost of the building from
the Puerta de los Escribanos as far as the choir, gave us the town of
Alcubilete, with its mills and fisheries, and he also left a legacy
so that in the choir when complines are sung, that lamp called the
Preciosa should be lighted, which is placed by the great bronze eagle
belonging to the big missal. Don Alfonso Tello de Meneses gave us
four towns on the banks of the Guadiana, granted us tithes and bridge
tolls, and I know not what riches besides. We have been very powerful,
Gabriel; the territory of this diocese is larger than a principality.
The Cathedral had property on the earth, in the air, and in the sea!
Our dominions extended throughout the whole nation from end to end;
there was not a single province in which we did not hold possessions.
Everything contributed to the glory of the Lord, and to the comfort
and welfare of His ministers; everything paid to the Cathedral: bread
when it was baked in the ovens, the casting of the net, wheat as it
passed through the mill, money as it came from the Mint, the traveller
as he went on his way; the country people who then paid no taxes or
contributions served their king and saved their own souls, giving
the best sheaf in every ten, so that the granaries of the Holy
Metropolitan Church were quite insufficient to contain such abundance.
What times were those, Gabriel! There was faith, Gabriel, and faith
is the chief thing in life--without faith there is no virtue nor
decency--nor nothing."

He stopped for a moment, quite out of breath with talking. The priest
was so saturated with the atmosphere of the Cathedral, that in himself
he seemed to unite all the various scents of the church; his cassock
had collected the mouldy smell of the old stones and the rusty iron
railings, and his mouth seemed to breathe of the gutters and the
gargoyles, and the rank damp of the garrets.

With the rapid enumeration of all the past wealth Don Antolin warmed,
even to indignation.

"And having been so rich, now we find ourselves in extreme poverty.
And I, my son, a priest of the Lord, am obliged to go hither and
thither with those tickets so that we may all live, just as though
I were a seller of entrance tickets to a bull-fight, and the Lord's
house were a theatre, having to endure all those foreign heretics,
who come in without blessing themselves, and who look at everything
through opera-glasses. And I have to smile at them because they pay us
and provide us with some dessert for our poor stew! Carape! Jesus have
mercy on me! I was going to say a sacrilege."

Don Antolin continued his angry complaints till, in passing the front
of his house, Mariquita of the scowling and ugly countenance appeared
at the door.

"Uncle, enough of walking. Your chocolate is getting cold."

But before the priest disappeared into his house, she went on, smiling
amiably at Luna:

"Will you have some, Don Gabriel?"

And with her bold eyes, like a hungry wolf, she invited Luna to enter.
She liked the masterful ways of the man, she said, and the ease which
his former intercourse with the world had given him, and, moreover,
for her woman's imagination Gabriel's mysterious past possessed
a great attraction; his proud silence, the vague reports of his
adventures, and the smile, as much compassionate as disdainful, with
which he listened to the people of the upper cloister.

The insinuating Mariquita withdrew, and Gabriel continued his walk
through the cloister, after finishing the little jar of milk that his
brother brought him up every morning.

At eight o'clock, Don Luis, the Chapel-master, came out, his cloak
wrapped as usual theatrically round him, and his big hat well tilted
back, like a glory, round his enormous head; he was humming absently,
restless with perpetual nervous movements; he inquired anxiously if
the bell had yet rung for the choir, frightened by the threats of a
fine in case he were late. Gabriel felt himself very much attracted
by this poor priestly musician, who lived so despised in the furthest
corner of the church, thinking far more of music than of dogma.

In the evenings Gabriel would often go up to the little room inhabited
by the Chapel-master, on the tipper floor of the Lunas' house; the
room contained all the priest's fortune--a little iron bed, which had
belonged formerly to the seminarist, two plaster busts of Beethoven
and Mozart, and an enormous pile of bundles of music, bound scores,
loose sheets of ruled paper, so big and so piled up and disorderly
that every now and then a pile would slip down, covering the floor of
the little room with white sheets to its furthest corner.

"That is how all his money goes," said the Wooden Staff with an air of
good-natured reproof, "he will never have a farthing. As soon as he
gets his pay he orders more music from Madrid. It would be far better
for Don Luis if he were to buy himself a new hat, even if it were a
cheap one, so that the gentlemen of the choir should not laugh at the
covering he has on his head."

In the winter evenings, after the choir, the musician and Gabriel took
refuge in this little room. The canons, wishing to avoid the cold
winds and the rain, took their daily walk in the galleries of the
upper cloister, not wishing to forego this exercise to which their
methodical existence had accustomed them. The rain would beat on the
window of the little room, and in the dull grey twilight the musician
would turn over his portfolios, or letting his hands wander over the
harmonium, he would talk the while with Gabriel, who was seated on the

The musician would grow excited, speaking of his love of art. In the
midst of some peroration he would become suddenly silent, and bending
over the instrument its melodies would fill the room, and floating
down the staircase would reach the ears of the walkers in the cloister
like a distant echo. Suddenly he would cease playing and resume his
chattering, as though afraid that with his absent-mindedness his ideas
would evaporate.

The silent Luna was the only listener he had met with in the
Cathedral; the first who would listen to him for long hours without
ridiculing him or thinking him crazy, and who often showed by his
short interruptions and questions the pleasure with which he listened.

The end of the evening's conversation was always the same--the
greatness of Beethoven, the idol of the poor musician.

"I have loved him all my life," said the Chapel-master, "I was
educated by a Jeronomite friar, an old man driven from his convent
who, after leaving it, had wandered over the world as a professor
of the violoncello. The Jeronomites were the great musicians of the
Church. You did not know this, neither should I have known it if this
holy man had not taken me under his protection soon after I was born,
and been to me a real father. It appears that in olden days each order
devoted itself to some special thing. One, I think the Benedictines,
copied and annotated old books; others made sweet liqueurs for the
ladies, others were wonderfully clever in training cage birds, and
the Jeronomites studied music for seven years, each one playing the
instrument of his choice, and to these we owe that there has been
preserved in the Spanish churches a little, but very little, good
musical taste. And from what my little father told me, what wonderful
orchestras these Jeronomites must have had in their convents! For the
ladies it was a great delight to go on Sunday evenings to the parlour,
where they met the good fathers, each one a master of his own
particular instrument. These were the only concerts in those days, and
with their pittance assured, and no anxiety as to housing or clothing
themselves, and with the love of art as their only duty, you may
imagine, Gabriel, what musicians they could become. For this reason,
when the friars were expelled from their convents the Jeronomites were
not the worst off. There was no need to beg masses in the churches
or to live on the charity of devout families; they were able to earn
their bread by an art conscientiously studied, and consequently they
soon got places as organists and Chapel-masters; the Chapters really
fought for them. Some were more venturesome, and, anxious to see more
of that musical world which had seemed to them while in their convents
a vision of Paradise, entered the orchestras of theatres, many
travelling even to Italy, transforming themselves so entirely that
even their own former prior could not have recognised them. One of
these was my little father. What a man! He was a good Christian, but
he had thrown himself so thoroughly into music that he retained
very little of the former friar. When he was told that probably the
convents would be re-established, he shrugged his shoulders with
indifference, a new sonata interested him much more. He sometimes said
things that have always lived in my memory. I remember one day when I
was a child he took me to a meeting of musical friends in Madrid, who
played, for their own pleasure only, the famous 'Seventh Symphony.' Do
you know it? It is the freshest and most graceful of all Beethoven's
works. I remember my little father leaving the room quite wrapped up
in himself, with his head bent, dragging me along, for I could hardly
keep up with his long footsteps, and when we got home he looked at me
fixedly, as though I had been a grown-up person. 'Listen, Luis,' he
said, 'and remember this well. There is only one Lord in the world,
Our Lord Jesus Christ, and there are two lesser lords, Galileo and

The musician looked lovingly at the plaster bust which faced the room
from one corner, with its leonine brows and the diffident eyes of a
deaf person.

"I do not know much about Galileo," continued Don Luis. "I know that
he was a very wise man, and a scientific genius. I am only a musician
and I know very little about other things, but I adore Beethoven,
and I think my little father did the same--he is a god; the most
extraordinary man the world has ever produced. Don't you think so,

His nerves were quivering with his excitement, and getting up, he
walked rapidly up and down the room, trampling on all the loose sheets
of music.

"Ay! how I envy you, Gabriel, having travelled so much, and having
heard so many good things! The other night I could not sleep for
thinking of all you had told me about your life in Paris--those
beautiful Sunday afternoons when you would go to the Lamoureax
concerts, or sometimes to Colonnas, giving yourself a surfeit of
sublimity! And here am I, shut up, my only hope being perhaps to
conduct a Mass of Rossini's at one of the great festivals! My only
comfort is to read music, instructing myself thoroughly in those great
works that so many fools in the towns can listen to half asleep and
bored. Here I have, in this pile, the nine symphonies of the great
man--his innumerable sonatas, his masses, and together with him,
Haydn, Mozart, Mendelssohn, in fact all the great writers. I have even
Wagner. I read them, and I play what is possible on the harmonium.
But--it is just as if you were to describe the drawing and colours of
a picture to a blind man, buried in this cloister. I know, blindly,
that there are most beautiful things in this world--for those who can
hear them."

The Chapel-master kept from the previous year the remembrance of a
great happiness, and he spoke of it enthusiastically. He had been
chosen by the Cardinal Archbishop to go to Madrid, to be one of a
board of examiners for organists.

"That was the best time I ever had in my life, Gabriel. One evening
I listened to Wagner, dressed in the clothes of a friend of mine, a
violinist, who plays here in Toledo at the great festivals. I heard
the Walkyria in the pit of the Real Theatre, another night I went to
a concert; but the greatest night of all was the one on which I heard
the Ninth Symphony of that ugly old fellow, of that deaf, bad-tempered
genius who is listening to us."

And with one bound the musician rushed to the bust, kissing it
with childish humility, just as a child would caress a stern and
domineering father.

"You know the Ninth Symphony; true, Gabriel? And what did you feel as
you listened to it? When I listen to music strange things happen to
me. I close my eyes and I see unknown countries and strange faces, and
whenever I hear the same works the same visions are repeated. If I
speak about this with any of the people down below they say I am mad,
but I know that you feel as I do, and I am not afraid that you will
laugh at me. There are musical passages that make me see the sea, blue
and boundless, with silvery waves, and this, though I have never seen
the ocean; other works bring before me woods and castles, or groups
of shepherds with white flocks; with Schubert I always see two lovers
sighing at the foot of a linden tree, and certain French composers
bring before my mind's eye beautiful women walking among beds of
roses, dressed in violet, always violet. And you, Gabriel, do not you
see these things?"

The anarchist assented--yes, music awoke in him also a world of
fantastic visions, far more beautiful than reality.

"I remember," went on the priest, "what the Ninth Symphony made me
see. I see it still if I only hum some of its passages. Oh! that
graceful Scherzo with its strange tremolos! I thought, hearing it,
that God and his court of saints had left the heavens to take a
walk, leaving the little angels masters of the house, full liberty!
Universal gambols! The heavenly children, without any restraint,
sported from cloud to cloud, amusing themselves by scattering on the
earth the garlands of flowers that the saints had left behind them;
one let loose the rain and made it fall on the earth; another seized
the key of the thunder and touched it, fearful peals which frightened
all the revellers and made them fly. But they returned again to
continue their graceful play, beginning afresh their noisy games that
the thunder had disturbed. And the Adagio! What do you say about that?
Do you know anything softer, more loving or so divinely peaceful?
Human beings will never speak like this again, however much progress
they make. Hearing it, I thought of those fresco-painted ceilings with
mythological figures--gods and goddesses with pink flesh and flowing
curves, Apollo and Venus reclining on a mountain of pink and gold
clouds, like a lovely dawn."

"Chaplain, what has come to you?" said Gabriel; "this is not very

"No, but it is artistic," said the musician simply. "I do not trouble
myself much about religion, I believe what I was taught, and I have
never taken the trouble to inquire any further. Music alone occupies
me, of which someone has said 'that it will be the religion of the
future,' the purest manifestation of the ideal. Everything that is
beautiful delights me, and I believe in it as a work of God. 'I
believe in God and in Beethoven,' as his pupil said--and besides, how
much religion the grandeur of music contains! Do you know the last
quartet that Beethoven wrote? He felt he was dying, and he wrote on
the edge of the score this terrible question: 'Must it be?' and lower
down he added, 'Yes, it must be, it must be.' It was necessary to die,
even for such a genius to leave life, while he still carried in his
mind such glorious things, to pay the tribute of human renovation;
and then he wrote that lament, that farewell to life, whose greatness
cannot be equalled by any song, or by any words of religion."

The musician sat down to the harmonium, and for a long while played
that last lament of the genius, his sorrowful complaint on crossing
the threshold, not despairing and trembling through fear of the
unknown, but with a brave melancholy, sinking into the eternal shadow,
confident that nothing could obscure his genius.

These evenings of artistic communion in that corner of the sleepy
Cathedral drew the two men together with an ever increasing affection.
The musician talked, turning over his scores, or playing his
harmonium; the revolutionist listened silently, only interrupting his
friend by his painful cough. They were evenings of sweet sadness that
these two men spent together, one dreaming of leaving the stone prison
of the Cathedral to see the world, the other returning from life
wounded and breathless, content with the obscure repose of the
beautiful church, and guarding with prudent silence the secret of his
past. Art shone for them like the rays of the sun in the grey and
monotonous atmosphere of the Cathedral.

When they met in the early mornings in the cloister the conversation
between the two friends generally ran on the same lines.

"This evening, eh?" the Chapel-master would say mysteriously. "I have
some fresh music, we shall enjoy something new that I have been sent
to-day, and besides, I wrote a little thing last night."

The anarchist nodded affirmatively, quite ready to serve as
entertainment for this pariah of art, who saw in him his only
audience, and who took so much kindly trouble to interest him.

While the services lasted Gabriel would walk alone in the cloisters;
all the men were in the Cathedral, except the shoemaker, who was
mending the giants. Tired of the chattering of the women who stood
at the doors of the Claverias, he would go up to the dwelling of the
bell-ringer, his old companion in arms, or he would go down into the
garden by the remarkable staircase del Tenorio when it was open, or by
the archbishop's archway crossing the street.

He delighted in passing an hour under the trees; he found in the
garden as many memories of his family as in the "habitacion" upstairs.
Besides, he was tired of always finding his walks bounded by stone
walls, which reminded him of his prison, and he wanted the movement of
the vegetation caressed by the breeze to foster the illusion that he
was living in complete liberty in the open country.

In the arbour, where he had formerly so often seen his father, infirm
and crippled with age, directing his eldest son, who received all his
orders impassively, he would now meet his Aunt Tomasa, knitting her
stockings, and watching with vigilant eyes the work of a boy whom she
had taken into her service.

Gabriel's aunt was by far the most important person in the Claverias;
her word was worth quite as much as Don Antolin's, the Silver Stick
was afraid of her, bending before the powerful protection that they
all guessed stood behind the poor old woman. In the days when her
father, Gabriel's maternal grandfather, was sacristan in the Cathedral
the functions of acolyte were exercised by a small boy, nephew of one
of the beneficiaries of the Cathedral, who ended by paying for his
education in the seminary. This little acolyte of half a century
before was now a prince of the church, and the Cardinal Archbishop of
Toledo. Old Tomasa and he had known each other as children, fighting
over trifles in the upper cloister, or playing tricks on the beggars
who sat at the Puerta del Mollete. The imposing Don Sebastian, whose
look alone made the Chapter and all the clergy in the diocese tremble,
became happy, fraternal and confidential, when now and then in the
evenings he saw Tomasa. She was the only living reminder of his
childhood in the Cathedral. The old woman would kiss his ring with
great reverence, but very soon she would lapse into talking to him as
one of her own family, often very nearly speaking to him in the second
person. The cardinal, always surrounded by fear and adulation, often
felt the necessity of the old woman's careless and frank conversation.
The people belonging to the Cathedral declared that the Senora Tomasa
was the only person who dared to tell the cardinal home-truths face to
face, and the neighbours in the Claverias felt their pride flattered
when they saw the prince of the church sweeping down the stone steps
in his brilliant scarlet robes to sit in the arbour and gossip for
a good hour with the old woman, while his attendants remained
respectfully standing at the gate of the iron railings.

Tomasa was not puffed up with this honour; to her this ecclesiastical
prince was only the friend of her childhood, who had had a certain
amount of good luck; and in the end, he was only Don Sebastian,
without going any further into ceremonies and formulas of respect. But
her family knew how to take advantage of this friendship, especially
her son-in-law, "Virgin's Blue," a hypocrite, as the old woman
declared, who would make money out of the very cobwebs of the
Cathedral; an insatiable locust who, profiting by the friendship of
the cardinal and his mother-in-law, went on continually obtaining
fresh privileges, without the priests and sacristans daring to make
the slightest protest, seeing him so well protected.

Gabriel much enjoyed his aunt's talk. She was the only person born
in the cloister who seemed to have freed herself from the soporific
influence of the church. She loved the Cathedral, as being her ancient
roof-tree, but she did not retain much respect for the saints in the
chapels, nor for the human dignitaries who sat in the choir. She
laughed with the happiness of a healthy and placid old woman, her
seventy years being, as she said, quite free from any evil done to her
neighbour. Her language was free and easy, like that of a woman who
has seen much, and does not believe in human majesty or irreproachable
virtues; but the bed-rock of her character was its tolerance, her
compassion for all faults, but she Was indignant with those who
attempted to hide them.

"They are all men, Gabriel," she would say to her nephew, speaking of
the clergy of the Cathedral. "Don Sebastian is only a man; all sinners
who have much to answer for before God. They cannot be anything else,
and so I forgive them. But believe me, nephew, I often feel inclined
to laugh when I see the people kneeling before them. I believe in the
Virgin of the Sagrario, and a little in God; but in these gentlemen!
If you only knew them as I do! But, when all is said and done, we must
all live, and the evil is not in having faults, but in attempting to
hide them; playing a farce with the shamelessness of my son-in-law
who, here as you see him, is as proud as a castle, beats his breast,
kisses the ground like the Beatas,[1] and yet he is anxious for my
death, thinking I have something laid away in my chest; he filches
what he can from the Virgin's poor-box, steals the wax tapers, and
plays tricks with what is paid for masses, and yet he would be in
the street if it were not for me, who always think of my poor sick
daughter and my poor little grandchildren."

[Footnote 1: _Beata_--woman engaged in works of charity who wears the
religious habit.]

When Gabriel went down to see her in the garden, she always received
him with the same salutation:

"Hola, you ghost! but to-day you are looking better, you are being
patched up. I believe your brother will pull you through with all his

And then followed a comparison between her healthy and vigorous old
age and his ruined youth, which was fighting so tenaciously against

"Here you see my seventy years, and never an illness in all my life.
Summer and winter I never hear four o'clock strike in bed, and all my
teeth are as sound as in the days when Don Sebastian came in his red
dress as server in the church and wanted to steal half my breakfast.
You Lunas have always been delicate; your father, long before he was
my age, could barely walk, and was always complaining of rheum and of
the damp in this garden. Here am I in it constantly, and I feel just
the same as when I am upstairs in the Claverias. We, the Villalpandos,
are made of iron; for, of course, we are descended from that famous
Villalpando who made the screen of the high altar, the custodia, and
an innumerable quantity of other things. He really must have been a
giant, to judge by the ease with which he twisted and moulded every
sort of metal."

Gabriel's ill-health awoke in her the deepest compassion, but all the
same not quite free from malicious suggestions.

"How much you must have amused yourself about the world, eh, nephew?
But that war was your perdition; without it you would now have had
your stall in the choir, and who knows if you might not have come to
be another Don Sebastian. The truth is, that from his childhood no one
spoke half as much about him in the seminary as they did of you, and
he certainly was no prodigy of learning. But you saw the world, and
you took a fancy to those countries where they say the ladies are
very pretty, and wear hats as large as parasols. You are a monster of
ugliness now, but you were very smart, though I, who am your aunt, say
so. And now you have come back so lean and suffering! You must have
lived very fast; who knows what you have done in the world--sly boots!
And your poor mother, who thought you would be a saint! God have mercy
on us! Don't deny it; you have done no good and I hate lies. You did
right to enjoy yourself and to take advantage of every opportunity,
but the misfortune is that you should have returned as you are, for it
is pitiful to see you, but I have known a great many like you. I don't
know what evil spirit possesses people belonging to the church, but
once they throw themselves into life, they don't know where to stop,
and they burn the candle at both ends till there is next to nothing
left; many of them, like you, have passed through the seminary."

One morning Gabriel asked a question of his aunt that he had been long
thinking about, but that he had never before dared to put into words.
He wanted to know all about his niece, Sagrario, and what had happened
in his brother's house.

"You who are so kind, aunt, you will tell me; everyone seems afraid to
speak about it; even my nephew the Tato, who is such a chatterer
and skins everyone in the Claverias, is silent when I ask him. What
happened, aunt?"

The old woman's face grew very sad.

"A great misfortune, my son, such as was never known before in the
upper cloister. The madness of the world came into the Cathedral, and
made a nest in the most honoured, most ancient, and most respectable
house in the Claverias. We are all good people, though we have never
seen as much of the world as can be seen from a skylight, and live
here as though wrapped in cotton wool, but you Lunas have always been
the best among the best, to say nothing of us Villalpandos, who come
close behind. Ay! if your mother could raise her head! If your father
were alive! But I lay all the blame on your brother, as being weak and
a simpleton, having that cursed blindness of all fathers, who ignore
the danger in the hope of marrying their daughters well."

"Well, but how was it, aunt? What passed between my niece and the

"What happens frequently in the world, but what has never happened
here before. A thousand times I said to my brother, 'See, Esteban,
this young gentleman is not for your daughter'--very sympathetic,
very lively, and wearing the uniform of the Academy like no one else,
leader of a group of the wildest cadets in all their escapades about
the town, besides a son of a great family--wealthy people who did not
allow him to come to Toledo with his purse empty. And she--the poor
Sagrario, crazy with love, flattered by her cadet, as proud as
possible when she walked on Sundays through the Zocodover and the
Miradero between her mother and that handsome young lover, that all
the girls in the place envied her. The beauty of your niece was
the talk of all Toledo; the girls in the college for noble ladies,
nicknamed her the 'sacristana' of the Cathedral; but the poor girl
lived only for her cadet, and she seemed to devour him with her
beautiful blue eyes. That idiot, your brother, let him come to the
house, proud of the honour that was being done to the family. You
know, Gabriel, the eternal blindness of those middle-class Toledans,
who encourage with pride the courtship of one of their girls by a
cadet, though they are perfectly well aware that it is most rare that
one of these courtships should end in marriage. There is no woman here
with the slightest pretence to a pretty face who has escaped without
her mouthful of love for one of those red pantaloons. Even I remember
when I was a girl how I would smooth my hair and pull out my dress
when I heard the rattle of a sword on the flags of the cloister. It is
a blindness that descends from mothers to daughters, and the worst
is, that those cursed ones have all their cousins and their lovers in
their own country, and to them they return as soon as they leave the

"That is true, aunt, but what happened to my niece?"

"When the young man passed out a lieutenant, his family decided he
ought to return to Madrid. The farewells were like a scene at the
theatre. I believe that even your brother and that simpleton his wife,
who is now in glory, wept as though the lover were theirs. The young
people sat for hours with clasped hands, gazing into each other's
eyes, as though they would devour each other. He was the calmest; he
promised to come every Sunday and to write every day, and at first he
did so, but before long many weeks passed without his coming, and the
postman came up less often to the Claverias, and at last did not come
at all--it was ended, the young lieutenant found other amusements in
Madrid. Your poor niece was like one demented; the colour in her face
faded, she was no longer like the beautiful ripe apricot, with the
soft skin that made you long to bite it. She wept like a Magdalen in
every corner--and one day the foolish girl fled--and up to now--"

"But where was she? Did no one search for her?"

"Your brother seemed quite dazed. Poor Esteban! several nights we
found him half dressed in the upper cloister, as stiff as a post,
gazing up at the heavens with eyes that looked like glass. He became
furious if any of us spoke of searching for the child; the scandal
was past remedy, and he did not wish to aggravate it by her return,
bringing back a lost one to the Holy Metropolitan Church, and to the
honoured house of the Lunas. For more than a year everyone in the
Claverias seemed crushed by this blow; it seemed as though we were all
in mourning. You see, that such a thing should occur in the Cathedral
where the years pass by in blessed peace without any of us saying
one word louder than the other! And then I remembered you. It seemed
impossible that from these Lunas, so quiet and steady, should have
sprung a girl with sufficient pluck to run away to Madrid, where she
had never been before, to join a man, without fear of God or of her
own people. To whom could I liken the unhappy child? To her uncle, to
Gabriel who passed for a saint, but who, nevertheless, after fighting
like a wolf, wandered all over the world just like a gipsy."

Gabriel made no protest at the conception his aunt had formed of his

"And after her flight? What did you know about the child?"

"At first a good deal, but latterly not a word. The two were living
in Madrid together, peacefully and quietly, away from the world, as
though they were man and wife. This lasted for a good while, and I,
hearing about it, began to wonder if I had not been mistaken, and that
the man we had blamed so much had repented and would end by marrying
Sagrario. But at the end of the year everything was ended; he grew
tired, and the family intervened, in order that the escapade should
not cut short the career they had marked out for the young man. They
even sought the aid of the police, to frighten the child, so that she
should not molest the young officer in the first angry transports of
her desertion. Afterwards--nothing certain is known. Now and again
those who have gone to Madrid told me a little; some of them had seen
her, but it would have been far better if they had not seen her. It is
a disgrace, Gabriel; a dishonour for your family which is mine. This
unhappy girl is the worst of the worst. I heard that she had been very
ill, and I believe that she is so still. Just imagine, what a life!
And for five years! What will have happened to the unfortunate girl!
And to think that she is my sister's daughter!"

The Senora Tomasa spoke with deep feeling.

"Afterwards, Gabriel, you know what happened here; your poor
sister-in-law died, we hardly knew why, it was only a matter of a few
days; possibly she may have died of the shame, as she died saying that
the fault was entirely hers. It broke one's heart to see the state
your brother was in after all this. Esteban has never been good for
much, and now after this affair of his daughter he seemed to become
quite imbecile. Ay, nephew! I also have felt it greatly, even though
you see me so happy, and so satisfied with life, every now and then
the remembrance of that unhappy girl strikes me here, in my head, and
I eat badly and sleep worse, thinking that a girl who, after all, is
of our own blood, is wandering lost over the world, a plaything for
men, without anyone sheltering her, as though she were all alone, as
though she had no family."

The Senora Tomasa wiped her eye with the point of her forefinger, her
voice shook and the tears fell over her wrinkled old cheeks.

"Aunt, you are very kind," said Gabriel, "but you ought to have
searched more for this poor girl; you ought to have recovered her, to
have saved her, to have brought her back here. We must be merciful to
the weakness of others, especially when that other is one of our own

"Ay, son! Who do you say it to? A thousand times I have thought this,
but I was afraid of your brother. He is like a bit of dough, but he
turns into a wild beast if you speak to him of his daughter. Even if
we found her and brought her here he would not receive her; he would
be as angry as if you were proposing some sacrilege to him. He could
not calmly bear her presence in the house which was that of your
forefathers. Besides, though he does not say so, he fears the scandal
among the neighbours in the Claverias who know what had happened. This
is the easiest part to arrange, as they would be very careful not to
open their mouths when I am among them. But your brother frightens me,
and I do not dare."

"I will help you," said Gabriel firmly. "Let us seek for the child,
and once we have found her I will undertake to manage Esteban."

"It will be most difficult to find her. For a long time we have heard
nothing. Doubtless those who do see her are careful to say nothing
for fear of paining us. But I will try and find out--we will see,
Gabriel--we will think about her."

"And the canons? and the cardinal? Will they not oppose the return of
the poor girl to the Claverias?"

"Bah! The thing happened some time ago, and few of them will remember
it; besides, we might place the girl in a convent, where she would be
looked after and quiet, and cause scandal to no one."

"No, not that, aunt. It is a cruel remedy. We have no right to try and
save this poor girl at the cost of her liberty."

"You are right," said the old woman, after a few moments' reflection.
"I don't care much for these nuns myself. Where would she be more
likely to follow a good example than in the heart of her own family?
We will bring her back to this house if she repents and wishes for
peace. And I will scratch out the eyes of the first woman in the
Claverias who dares to say anything against her. My son-in-law will
probably pretend to be scandalised, but I will settle him. It would be
much better if he did not wink at the walks that Juanito, that
cadet nephew of Don Sebastian's, takes in the cloister whenever my
granddaughter stands at the door. The crackbrained fellow dreams of
nothing less than becoming related to the cardinal, and seeing his
daughter a general's wife; he might remember poor Sagrario. And as far
as regards Don Sebastian, you may be quite easy, Gabriel. He will say
nothing but that we ought to bring the child back--and what should he
say? People ought to be charitable one to another, and none more than
they; for after all, Gabriel, believe me--they are only men, nothing
but men!"

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