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So you see we are quits. We both agree to be international. The moment I passed under the arch I knew that I was in Spain, for I sniffed on all sides the heavy smell of burning olive oil. Whenever a North Euro- pean goes to Spain he must go through the preparatory period of initiation into heavy oHve oil before he enjoys his meals.

Eggs are fried in oil, meat reeks of it, French beans, or judias, the everlasting solo vegetable dish, float in it. After some days of heat-spots and rash it is possible to pass through the narrow streets at dinner- time without the feeling of nausea. Fuenterrabia is a sleepy town which has watched modern life dash by, without bothering to open an inquiring eye. From the point of view of the contem- plative traveller it has earned a mighty blessing, for he knows that the energetic, alarm-clock traveller will never find the town, because it is hidden in a nook just outside the rushing tide of progress.

In the Middle Ages it must have been a stronghold for the King of Navarre, with its stout walls and castle, but to-day it is sadly tottering. The houses in the main street are very ancient and many have the characteristic Basque decorated wood and railings of worked iron. It is a sleepy town, were it not for the hosts of romping children, whose shrill voices echo and re-echo in the empty courtyards.

One of the first impressions the stranger gets of Spain is of un- repressed children. In no coiontry do children run so wild as they do in Spain. In Spain the individualism of each child is allowed the completest expression : they frolic about the streets like kittens: they shout, they pester strangers with eager questions until he has to admit that they are the most charming children in the world. How is it that these wide-eyed, laughing lads and lasses will turn into the courteous, measured, taciturn Basque?

Some travellers may cast doubts on my assertion that the most charming children come from Spain, but they cannot deny that the most picturesque beggars are to be found there. On that sunny July day in Fuenterrabla there were many beggars loUing about in the streets and I was immediately struck by their proud insolence.

They were not energetic beggars, for in this southern country their needs were small. There are fat more ragged beggars in Spain than an3rwhere else, but I often wonder whether they have not borrowed the hereditary rags for the occasion, just as Dicaeopolis borrowed the rags of Telephus from Euripides in order to play the part of beggar. He was tall and gaunt with pock-marked face, wild eyes and tousled grey hair, and his ragged costume hanging in strips gave him the appearance of a half-plucked vulture.

But no noble- man could have shown more arrogant grace than that mendigo did, as he doffed his tattered hat and gazed at me haughtily saying — Limosna por Dios! The Bible says that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God. Beggars are necessary, and yonder ragged fellow knows that he is giving me an opportunity to salve my conscience.

Hence the trace of soherhia. He should use a little of each : make a sing-song from time to time with a hypocritical look in his eye, then drop a few tears as he tells of hard- ships, and later on utter a few fiery Spanish oaths. But above aU he should beg with a smile, for I have always found that the quiet smile of bonhomie works greater miracles than the most honied tongue.

I play and then I pass round my boina to see if my tune wins a real or two.

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The old beggar stood by, looking at me intently. As he saw nobody stopping to listen to my music, he shook his head and sat down on a stone. Fiddling in the public streets is at first a tantalizing occupation for anyone who has ever played in a concert room, because he imagines th at at the first magic notes of his fiddle the traffic will stop and the great mass of public stand poised in silent expectation of his music. A street minstrel must learn in the bitter school of adversity to endure ingratitude. After long experience, I came to the conclusion that the minstrel must play for himself alone.

But in Southern countries people do not move quickly through the streets in the briUiant sunshine ; they prefer to loiter and drag their feet as if they were waiting for some surprise to spring up at any moment, like a Jack-in-the- box. As I continued playing in the main street of Fuenterrabla a few loungers came over and stood before me and a minute later they were joined by three women carrying baskets. After aU, playing in the street is merely a comparatively legal form of begging and it is necessary to adopt subtle means of extracting money. If you let it enter your ears you wiU find a novio before two days ate out.

Come, listen to it all of you because it will bring you luck. I played in different parts of the town for about an hour and half, but he never let me go out of his sight. He would always walk behind me and when I started playing he would go a little distance off and watch the effect. You must be making a mistake. I then began to fear that a row mi ght arise. If people gathered round, the old fellow, knowing the ways of the town, might accuse me of having tricked him. The best policy was to give him something. So I gave him twenty cents, which he refused with an obscene gesture, spat upon the money and threw it upon the ground.

Finally I got free from the old pest at the cost of fifty centimes more. Your method of begging is better than mine, but you have to work harder. If I had not given him a share of the money he might have started a street row or appealed to some trade union of Spanish tramps — who Imows?

Anyhow, I was glad to have met one of the true pordioseros as the Spanish picturesquely and with a touch of irony call the. There is hope yet in Spain for a lover of the Picaresque and the days of Lazarillo and Guzman de Alfarache are not over. After a hearty meal in a dark eating-house in a side street I settled myself down for a comfortable siesta. Life south of the Pyrenees may still be a happy-go-lucky business, at any rate, for a vagabond.

There is no need for me to hurry. I have no conscience driving me according to schedule. It is all the same whether I snooze away for three hours or one hour and I have no watch ticking a perpetual reminder. Here in the tavern there is silence save for the fitful snore of the one dishevelled waiter who sprawls asleep with legs wide apart, waistcoat unbuttoned, mouth half open, with a toothpick in the comer. Later on in the afternoon the tavern fills with people, all of them men — hardly a woman do I see.

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In France there would have been a good sprinkling of chattering girls, some of them unaccompanied and on the look- out for a cavalier, but in Spain one is stmck by those solemn concourses of men who sit together wrapped in cloaks, for hours and hours, without saying a word. The old men leaning on their sticks resemble patriarchs seated on thrones, ready to be consulted upon any subject in the world. If I had been a fluent Basque speaker I might have broken down their reserve, whereas by speaking Spanish I proclaimed myself a foreigner.

E I had not been accompanied by my fiddle I think some of those village worthies would have thawed more rapidly, but when they saw that I was a minstrel they looked at me with suspicion. In a loud voice he described the qualities of his wares, taking them out one by one and holding them up for the people to see. The pedlar was a diminutive figure, not more than four feet ten inches in height, with a tiny, wizened, yellow face, black moustaches, side-whiskers, and a shock of unkempt black hair. He was dressed in a jaunty style with faded, grey, double-breasted coat, very greasy and out at elbow ; tight, chocolate-coloured trousers, torn in places, faded tanned boots slit at the sides because of corns cut out of them.

In spite of his bedraggled appear- ance he had a certain brisk jauntiness of manner and gait, which made him look like Tom Thumb aping the bull- fighter. He possessed the true southern spirit of cheap sdesmanship and he expended his energy on a wealth of gesture. He waved his arms, he gesticulated with his fingers, which I noticed were covered with cheap rings. At one moment when he thought that one of the girls wanted to buy a brooch, he opened his double-breasted coat, and lo, behold, he had quantities of brooches pinned on the inside and across his waistcoat.

All the Basque reserve in the world was no match for that irrepressible, buoyant little man. At last after many flourishes and gesticulations he put on a broad-brimmed grey hat, shut his tray with a bang and stalked s'wiftly down the street. Where are you going with the guitar? He was originally from Valencia and was Mediterranean in his sympathies, but he was now going to San Sebastian to peddle his wares, for during the summer season that city becomes the capital of Spain owing to the huge numbers of holiday-makers from Madrid. Manuel the pedlar, for that was his name, jogged along at a jaunty trot, and I tried vaitily to keep up with him.

All the time he poured forth an incessant flood of conversation about his adventures in various ports of Spain. At first I answered by monosyllables as I plodded along, but soon I became too weary and too puffy even for that, and I lagged behind him, moppiag my brow and cursing him in- wardly. Besides, minstrels are not supposed to have the powers of resistance of competitors in the London-to-Brighton walking race. Many times I made up my mind to shout out, " HeU! I was longing to call a halt at Pasajes and I hoarsely shouted out that it was a famous little town, for it was from there that Magellan sailed for South America, but Manuel was deaf to all the claims of history.

When we reached the dty it was nearly midnight and Manuel insisted on sharing lodgings with me. The room was grimy, the floor covered with dust; there was dirty water in the tin basin and the bed was unmade, but I would not have exchanged its comfort for all the feather beds of Paradise.

I sank down upon it fully dressed and in a few minutes I was as deep in slumber as one drugged with morphia. Next day when I awoke the sun was streaming into the garret and I found that I had slept the round of the clock. Manuel would not let me rest in peace. In his mind he was convinced that I needed a watchful guardian who would point out the opportunities for a minstrel. It was too sophisticated and too near to Biarritz. The traveller is at once struck by the difference between this strand and that of Biarritz. For one thing the bathers in France wear skin-tight bathing-dresses that show ojff every curve of their thin figures, but here every girl wears a skirt and the men too wear the most modest bathing-suits I have ever seen.

There are not many exotic types : instead, I was struck by the numbers of fat complacent mothers surrounded by herds of small children, camped under voluminous red and pink para- sols. Hardly a matron seated on the sands seemed to be possessed of less than eight or nine children. San Sebastian is mainly interesting to the wanderer on account of its floating summer population, for it is the s umme r playground of Madrid.

Since the Revolution there is a feeling of gravity and solemnity about the town, perhaps due to the closing of the Casino for gambling. Why is it that revolutionary governments always intro- duce an era of Puritanism?

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San Sebastian without g ambling cannot compete with Biarritz and Hendaye : how long will it take Republican Spain to follow the free and easy notions of its sister republic across the border? In the afternoon Manuel informed me that he was leaving San Sebastian for Zarauz and other coast towns, but he would introduce me to a friend of his — an old guitarist who would help me to turn over an honest penny.

It was siesta-time and he was dozing in the back of the shop with his head resting on his arms. His guitar lay on the table in front of him. When Manuel slapped him on the back he started up with a shout and let fly a curse. What can I do for you? I want you to keep an eye on him and help him to pick up a few silver coins with the true ring about them.

This feUow is on the rocks and you must help. Peace was made and conversation progressed on a more familiar footing. No, he certainly was not prepossessing ; he had such a squint that I involuntarily crossed myself lest he might cast an evil eye upon me. There was no mistaking the glassy stare, the mahogany complexion, the raven-black hair. I thought you were a white mouth : with that fair skin of yours you would never pass as a true-born son of Egypt. Go along with you, Manuel, my friend — order repani for us and pay the bill.

It was now evening and the cafes were full, so we both set out in quest of adventure. Ever3rwhere we went, Lucas insisted on acting the part of protector and impresario. He would address the people in the streets or in the cafes asking them to listen to my playing, and after every performance he would pass round the hat. To-morrow we shall share our earnings. At times the Gypsy character is most bafSing. Never in all my experience among the sons of Egypt had I ever known them hand over the swag to me.

Who knows what spell the old fellow may have put upon that money with that evil eye of his? The night was balmy, so I sat on a bench under the trees in the park. There was hardly a sound anywhere save the distant murmur of the sea. While I was sitting there, gazing meditatively at the twinkling lights of the sea front, a girl came up to the seat and sat at the further end. I noticed that she wore a white bandage over her forehead, covering one eye. She sat there silently but after a while I heard a muffled sob and I saw her pull out a pocket handkerchief and hold it to her face.

I then asked her gently what was wrong, but there was no answer and her sobbing increased in intensity. My heart was touched and I longed to con- sole her as she sat huddled up in a corner of the seat. What shall I do to console her, thought I. I feel so heartless and brutal. The best course would be to draw up closer to her and take her hand. The soft pressure of my hand worked wonders. The sobbing ceased and she began to tell me her story. She was from Santander and she had left her home after the death of her parents to earn her living as a dancer — not a stage dancer but a simple dancing-partner, and she had come to San Sebastian to take up a position in one of the many dance halls that are opened in the summer season.

After three weeks in hospital she was turned adrift without a single prospect of obtaining employment. Do you know, Senor, that I have not eaten yet to-day? I have no money even to pay for a bed in a lodging-house. Dios mio! What shall I do? Something must be done. Her hands as she held the knife and fork were pitifully slender and white with deep blue veins, and every moment a distressing cough racked her body.

She was shabbily dressed but with a certain show of neatness and refine- ment as though she had made a brave attempt to face her bad fortune. I should never have asked you to help me, for you might have misunderstood. I have learnt a bitter lesson and misfortunes never come singly, I tell you.

For weeks I looked for work and then one day when I got a job as dancing-partner, I thought that my luck had turned. But it was not for long : five days after the start I had that dreadful fall and now I am in a worse position than ever before. To-night bdbre I met you I even had thoughts of suicide. Senor, I could not do that, even if my dead mother arose from the grave and begged me. Back at home in the pmbto men would speak to me in the dusk and try to tempt me, but I would never listen to them.

In the dance hall here it is not easy to avoid dishonest proposals, but I have never given way. I had a little money, the remains of the Biarritz windfall, which I could have given the girl, but I was trying to harden my heart against any display of sentiment. Ebooks

My reasoning was as follows : It was absurd for a wanderer to play the part of Lord Bountiful, unless he wanted to leave shreds of his heart at every turn of the road. A tramp witnesses sad events and hears sad stories in every village, but he must pass on without more than a momentary pause. There is an empty bed in my room, for Manuel the pedlar has gone. You shall have it for the next few nights.

What would the landlady say if she saw me bring the girl up to my room? She might not say much, perhaps, but even the slightest trace of a leer or even a bitter remark would be an agonizing experience. I made her take off her shoes and both of us crept upstairs in our stockinged feet. The next task was to create a line of demarcation between the two beds and assign to the lady her territory. If you keep to that side of the line you will be as private as though you were locked up in your room at home. Good night, Sefiorita. It is time for bed.

Remember that the sword of chivalry lies between us. She retired to her side of the room, while I turned my back on her and made preparations for rest. I then put out the light and soon I was fast asleep. How long my sleep lasted I know not, but I awoke suddenly, hearing an exclamation. The light was on and I saw a man standing in the middle of the room gazing down at us with a most sardonic grin on his face. The landlady, when she took the money, said that there was a vacant bed here.

If I had known I should never have disturbed you and the Senora. There were three persons and only two beds — one of which was occupied by a sleeping woman. No sooner was it formulated in my brain than it was rejected with horror. Thank goodness she is asleep and blissfully unaware that she is the cynosure of neighbouring eyes. There was nothing for it but to adopt the third solution, which was to admit the stranger to my bed. After a certain amount of grumbling and sidelong glances at the sleeping girl he agreed to squeeze himself into my narrow couch.

Soon his heavy breathing announced that he was asleep. I lay awake, for I was planning to escape from the difficult situation which woffid surely arise in the morning when the girl would awake. Yes, escape was the best course. When the grey light of dawn began to steal in through the skylight I rose and dressed noiselessly. Then with my boots in my hand, along with fiddle-case, rucksack and stick, I made my way downstairs and out the hall door. Agustina Escudero has come to San Sebastian.

Why, man, she is so famous that painters journey to Madrid solely to paint her, and they say her face is worth thousands of pesetas to them. Come, let us go and see her. After climbing a steep, winding stairway we came to the door of her apartment. The room was the essence of drabness : there was a profusion of gilt-framed photographs and shabby antimacassars.

Lucas then showed me a large photograph of a beautiful young dancer in mantilla and high comb, clicking her castanets. I have seen you in the pictures of Don Ignacio de Zuloaga, but no picture in the world would do justice to you, Senora. Her body was slender, but well formed, and when she walked she carried herself with such easy grace that you would have sworn she was a famous dancer. They were not the eyes of a young Romany chai, for there was too much wisdom and cun- ning in them. Agustina was dressed simply in a black skirt and white blouse, but over her shoulders she wore a beautiful black mantilla ornamented with flowers; around her neck she wore several gold chains and from her ears hung long ear-rings of golden filigree work.

When she spoke she would use a wealth of gesture, and her voice, which was low-pitched and slightly hoarse, became metallic when excited, and she would then smile, showing her brilliantly white teeth. What do you mean? Have you any money in your pocket?

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In the streets Agustina was an object of interest to the general public and many would turn round to stare at her, but she held her head raised and she passed through the midst of gaping crowds with a triumphantly arrogant air. In the tavern over our wine Agustina became still more talkative and she catechized me upon my life past and present.

What were my parents like? How many sisters had I?

Was I married to a fair or dark woman? How many children had I? Her curiosity was bound- less, for she did not limit herself to those obvious questions, but penetrated to details of a more intimate and embarrassing nature. Every Gypsy woman over forty can be a hruja whenever she wishes. I like to question you because I know you would tell me a lot of lies.

With that roving eye of yours and those red lips do not tell me that you go through the world always thinkin g of your wife at home. Look at him — a cara de Tenorio he has to be sure. Dona Agustina? What about yout own husband — I suppose he is all alone in Madrid? Do you think of him always? Alas, many years have passed since he was waked in Madrid. What a wake it was I The bed in which he was laid out looked like an altar with the amount of candles that were burning around it.

I can see old Faraon at the head of the bed and beside him my brother Ramon el Andaluz the greatest Gypsy chaldn in Spain. Aye, and all the horse-dealers from the feria beyond the matadero were there, too, with El Pelao at their head and they were weeping their eyes out for the dead. Yes, Senor, we Gypsies have long memories, for memory of relations is the strongest law amongst all who are true Romanies of caste.

When a Gypsy dies and is laid in the ground he can still do harm to the living if they forget him. And as for musk, well, we had Lucas with his guitar, playing to us in the dark morning with the dead body lying there and ail the candles guttering out one by one. Dona Agustina, bum every chattel that belonged to the dead man; why.

When my rom died, I had to mourn as a true-born romi does. I had to cut off my hair, disfigure my face and dress myself in the filthiest rags. Never was I to wash myself or care for my body in any way, for the rule of the Gitanos holds that a woman who loses her husband should become an outcast shunned by all. When her rom dies, she is condemned to a living death and woe betide her if she breaks the Gypsy law.

Lucas here knows how loyally I kept the command at first. I wandered about Madrid begging like the vilest mendiga in the Calle de Embaja- dores. Come now, Lucas, was I not the most wretched widow you have ever seen? Many painters took pity on my lot, especially that santo hombre Don Ignacio : they were shocked to see Queen Agustina in rags, begging at street comers for a cmst of bread.

But I woidd not let them give me money, for I was afraid of Ram6n and my other brothers. If they had known that the Busne were helping me they would have drawn their naoajas and killed me. At last after some time one of those good painter friends arranged to kidnap me and hide me away from my infuriated brothers. How I trembled that night he came to fetch me. However, thanks be to God, tibey never found me.

After some years of hiding I heard that they were willing to forgive and forget, so I returned to Madrid to my family. Thus you see, Senor, how we Gypsies govern our lives by laws that are stricter than those of the Busn6. In spite of our apparent submission we are independent of any law made by white men, whom we hate.

And here in Spain we can still preserve our independence, for we are not on any census roll. Hence we do not pay taxes, and when the collectors come to look for us we have already flown. I give you my address in Madrid as number seven Calle Lombia and you may go there sometimes to look for me, but I shall probably have gone away and nobody in the whole district will know where Agustina Escudero lives.

All life to us is an adventure which is always changing, and we cannot understand those who build houses on their piece of bfifl and shun movement. As we wander over the earth, we see beautiful things and we converse with nature. We are resigned to our fate, for our history has taught it to us. Was she content to remain all the life a Gypsy follow- ing the rigid code? Marfa was a little rebel. She was fated to fall for a mere Busxd. But the day she was betrothed was a black one in the Barrio de Tetuan.

Poor girl! She is now in Switzerland up in the mountains. Ho there, camarero I Bring three glasses of repafii : the caballero here has ordered them. We Gypsies cannot write letters of introduction, but we have passwords and I shall tell you them. Before I met her I was master of my actions, and I stiU lived in my own world. But Agustina led me by the hand into a new world and cast the evil eye upon me. Why did you introduce me to Marujita?

I am a vagabond minstrel and I must follow my trail inexorably without halting by the wayside to lose my heart to a Romany chat. It aU happened because I gave a spree to Agustina. Come, pay your reckoning. It was a small theatre consisting of a parterre, a balcony, divided into boxes and an upper gallery. On the ground floor were many tables and chairs, and people came in at any time and sat there listening to the show, which took place on a stage at the end of the hall.

Such theatres are a paradise for the teetotaler, for he may see dances and music-hall performances just for the price of a cup of coffee. The audience was mostly composed of men, but there was a good sprink- ling of gaudy women of the demi-monde. Unking arms with their cavaUers. It was a pleasantly democratic theatre : in some of the boxes I saw old men in even- ing dress and white ties, and in parterre many rough workmen stiU had on their blue work-smocks and check caps. The whole place had recently been painted from floor to ceiling a violent blue and white, and it reeked of turpentine.

To call it a box would be a euphemism, for it was just a space partitioned oflF from the next. Agustina, however, entered her box like a queen and sat down in front, looking down on the public, flicking her fan with a dainty gesture and smiling graciously to some of her friends who were in the audience.

I have never seen a woman bear herself with more regal dignity than Agustina. As soon as she took her place many women tamed to look at her. She had dressed herself in her best for the occasion, and in her black hair she wore a beautiful, elaborately worked tortoiseshell comb.

Over her shoulders she had draped a dark red shawl, which half revealed her bronze-coloured skin. Her dress was black, but in front it was embroidered in red and yellow pattern : over her heart she wore a bouquet of red carnations, which I had bought for her. I felt proud to be seen beside Agustina, for not a woman in the theatre could compare with her for beauty and majesty.

Purposely I sat a little behind her so as to enjoy to the full the spectacle of her beautiful profile, the delicate contours of her chin, and her finely moulded ears from which hung the long golden filigree ear-rmgs. When I ordered a bottle of wine she became vivacious with that vivacity of the princess at play : she beckoned to some fdmds of hers in another box and soon they joined our party. A very fat girl came on in a diminutive cache-sexe and began to wriggle her rolls of fat to the rhythm of an insipid cancan.

While she continued the rotatiug, vibrating movement of her loins, she sang an obscene song in a hoarse voice. The public laughed and roared approval for she was simply the puta, or whore, and she did not pretend to be anything else. Another woman of mountaiuous bosom, who sang more ambitious songs in a shrill falsetto like a piccolo out of tune, received scant mercy. The people boohed and whistled her lustily, but she stood unmoved by the catcalls, simpering and airiug her graces like a prima donna.

Two Russian girl acroWs came on next and gave a wonderful display of tomboy dancing. The audience applauded them because they were foreign and because their closely bobbed hair made a subtly porno- graphic impression on the Southern mind. Meanwhile Agustina had invited several friends into our box, including the manager of the theatre, a tall, dark and sinister man, in evening dress.

Agustina tipped me an expressive wink. I understood. The shorthand might be explained thus : Take care of this gorgio : it is he who pays the piper. Give him some wine to soothe his spleen and he will smooth your path with Marujita. I immediately called a waiter and ordered wine of superior mark for the whole party. Hurray 1 Hurray! After the acrobatic Russian girls had cartwheeled off the stage I heard the strains of Spanish popular music, and for the first time I became aware of the existence of an orchestra.

A scraggier lot it would be difficult to find. Most of them had a lean and hungry look, especially the two fiddlers who played in a shuddering, nervous way as though they were in perpetual fear. They wore their hats on their heads while playing, and had their coats buttoned up to their necks as a precaution against draughts. The comet-player and the flautist were the living embodi- ments of igestive misery, and the only touch of colour in their sallow faces came from their noses, which by a curious coincidence were abnormally long and red.

I suppose that many years of envious sniffing at the fumes of wine in the theatre had painted those two organs an optimistic red and given one luxuriant touch to lives that were sunk in mournful squalor. For the next number the orchestra was increased by the addi- tion of two aged guitarists who sat at the back and thrummed their instruments in buzzing accompaniments. Now you will see our Marujita, the rose of Gypsy dancers. Suddenly Marujita came out from behind the dark curtain at the back on to the stage. Agustioa had not exaggerated her beauty.

At the first moment I had a vision of two great dark eyes set in the crest of a long shimmering comet which flashed across the stage. Then, when my eyes became accustomed to her costume of glittering spangles, I saw that she was tall and slender for a Gypsy, with the most beautiful skin of that golden pallor which Gautier so much admired in the Anddusian Carmens. Even from my distant box, I was thriUed by the exquisite poetry of her skin.

Its golden quahty seemed to ripple and shimmer in the light like the deli- cate maple back of a golden-varnished Stradivarius. She set all my senses on fire by her movements, but at the same time she quenched my fever by her classic dignity and innocence. In some dances like the mala- gueita she was languidly graceful, in others such as the iota she was heroic and the rattle of her castanets sounded like gun-fire heard at a distance.

For the jota she had put on a long black dress orna- mented with flowers. There was nothing Gypsy about the dance, which was accompanied by guitar and drum, but Marujita possessed the peculiar Gypsy power of absorbing the essential characteristics of other races. She became as aggressive as a female Amazon and her large dark eyes shone malignantly.

She was dancing to a hymn of hate and an intense one at that, and I remembered how the modem poet Salvador Rueda had said that in the jota we have the sound of helmets, the roaring of cannon, the neighing of horses, and the clang of swords. When she was dancing she seemed instinctively to improvise her movements. The preluding rhythms on the guitar seemed to turn her from an Oriental statue of marble into a living Maya. Between her performances she came up to our box and Agustina introduced her to me. When she sat beside me I was able at leisure to examine her features.

She had a beautiful forehead, broad and smooth as old ivory. Her hair was not raven black like that of Agustina but brownish in colour. Her slightly aquiliue nose and her high cheek-bones gave a strength and nobility to her face which was contradicted by her large, sensual mouth and rather heavy chin. But in compensation when she smiled, which was frequently, she showed two rows of brilliantly white teeth. What a contrast to the beautiful Marujita was her old mother! Outside the back streets of Triana or the caves of the Albaicin I have rarely seen an uglier or more unkempt Gypsy dai.

Beside her daughter dad in her shimmering low- backed dress she sat, looking like a grotesque scarecrow. Her dark dress was shabby and torn at the ends, and above she wore a dirty wHte blouse closed across her breast by a coarse safety-pin. The managers of the theatres try to refuse her adrpittance, but she will not be denied. She dings like a leech to her daughter to see that no harm comes to the child. Marujita gave the note without a word to her mother. But not for one minute did the mother take her eyes off her daughter. She sat motionless as a statue, not paying any attention to the stage, with her dark eyes feed on her.

As for posing rechipoti, or in the nude, he would draw his churi if anyone so much as mentioned it. The father does nothing but sleep, drink and scratch his fleas. Poor Marujita has to dance from sun- set to sunrise to feed the lot of them. Gypsies become ex- cited at the sound of their own voices, and the volume of sound increases as each tries to shout down her neighbour.

Finally, when the woman who possesses the sharpest lungs manages to defeat her opponent the voices sink again to normal pitch. Marujita devoted most of the time, when she was not performing, to the grey-haired old satyr in the box opposite. He ordered another bottle of wine but drank most of it himself, for the girl refused to take more than one glass. We had been a party of seven or eight persons and the price charged was twenty-three pesetas. As I took up my fiddle-case which lay hidden in a corner of the box I could not help saying a mute prayer to his satanic majesty to give me the mysterious Gypsy power of extracting money out of gorgios.

You want to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds.

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You wished to play the lordly Romany rye who acts as host to the Gypsies in their spree. Small blame to them for leaving you to settle the bill. I am not yet cleaned out of all the cash I won at Biarritz. Later on to-night I shall play the Gypsy too. I followed Agustina, Marujita, and the rest of our party downstairs, into a small dance hall which was in the theatre building.

Here a jazz orchestra was play- ing, and it was now possible for any member of the audience to dance with the music-hall actresses. When the manager sees her he flies into a rage. He says that many men will not come here to dance because they see her there. They call her a bruja. She thinks there is a curse on people who dress up in fine clothes. She hates life in the town, and she longs to live dressed in rags in a tent as she used to do long ago. But my mother followed and threatened to kill me if I did not return home. At last she consented to let me dance, provided that she could follow wherever I went.

And I must dance, Senor, because my mother and brothers and sisters pasan bocatas without my help. At first her mother pleaded with the manager : he stormed at her and called her bruja : the old woman replied with a volley of oaths : Agustma sat still without a word, flicking her fan haughtily. Matters were approaching a climax, and people were watching us. The manager shook me by the hand, and called for the waiter.

Four glasses of aguardiente. Your health, sir, and a thousand apologies. I am a minstrel, or as you would say in Spain a juglar, and I want to give thanks in the traditional way by a song. I am going to play you all a Gypsy tune which will bring luck to the whole company. Most of the people gathered in a circle round me at the request of the manager, and I played a rousing Hungarian Gypsy dance just to cheer them up from the start. I tried to follow her by ear, but it was like chasing someone through a shadowy dream. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed that a fat man in the comer was applauding vociferously.

Marujita turned her Gypsy eyes upon him, alluring and provocative, and I gazed at him fixedly and sternly to prevent him escaping from the snare. No white-mouthed rom will take her lacha, I tell you. I made a vow to see Marujita again. It was a fresh, sunny morning and as I walked along the country road I conversed with myself in a loud voice. A wanderer is happiest in the morning when he sets out alone from his stuffy garret. When once he gets into the strong rhythm of tramping he is as free as the King of Nature.

As long as he stays in the town he is dependent upon others. In the posada I never felt alone. The sky is blue above my head, the roads are not dusty at this early hour, the ait is fresh and there are birds singing. The Basque country is nearly as green as Ireland and the doud-capped mountains remind me that the weather may yet have surprises for me. After my walk in the morning air that scent was like a swift vision of paradise. A woman in a blue smock was roasting a rabbit over the fire and around her were five children.

How good that rabbit smells — my mouth waters. I pre- ferred that simple meal of roast rabbit and onions to the most gorgeous meal the Ritz Hotel could offer me. Then after loitering a while in friendly conversation, toothpick in hand, and after distributing a few pence as presents to the children, I said farewell and continued upon my way. The sun was now hot, for we had passed the hour of noon.

The day began to be oppressive and thoughts of the siesta entered into my mind. Spain shows its superiority to our Northern nations by this tradition of the siesta. We are rapidly becom- ing a nation of dyspeptics owing to our habit of rush- ing through our meals and dashing back to work. Many of us snatch a cup of tea and a bun at a counter in the intervals of feverish work.

When we order a solid meal we do so with a shamefaced expression as though it was wrong to linger lovingly over the details of such a sensual pleasure as cookery. Rarely do we enjoy a dinner in English-speaking countries because we are surrounded by wan-eyed, wrinkled men, the embodiments of digestive misery, and by women who hold the mistaken notion that slimness speUs grace and beauty. He stresses the word comer and pronounces it with a flourish of the tongue. Then though he has only a few coins in his purse he will choose his dinner with care and artistry and the innkeeper will not give short measure.

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Look at that red-faced, sweat- ing man with protruding paunch who sits opposite to me. Not a word has he spoken for the past hour, for he has been dedicated heart and soul and body to the goddess of the table. I then take leave of him and go out to the yard where I know there is a snug barn. Lying in the hay I may sleep through the heat of the day and there is no one to rebuke me for my snores.

In siesta-time, too, I make the acquaintance of the women of the establishment, for when you go into the courtyard you will find them all sitting in the shade with their workbaskets in front of them. You are fat and you are as deep-bosomed as a Homeric goddess, but you move as swiftly and arrogantly as a race-horse and there is a roguish twinkle in yoxir eye.

The flesh is weak and a vaga- bond who yields to temptation can slip away in the cool of the evening without anyone being the wiser. I shall save myself from you by flight without even seizing a kiss. Perhaps it is the subtle influence of Mercedes, but I feel full of gushing sympathy with the world in general as the sun goes down. In the morning when I tramp through the country I feel as hard as steel and as firm a lord over myself as Julius Gesar. But towards even- ing I become more mellowed and more full of human kindness. My eyes sometimes fill with tears when I think of the swift-fading beauty of the world and I long for a companion in my loneliness.

As night ad- vances the melancholy deepens to depression and it is time to take the fiddle out of my case and play for my- self. Many a time out in the wilds I have come across old flute-players and fiddlers seated under a tree play- ing to themselves to drive away the demon of melan- choly. In the evening I am less hardened against the slings and arrows of misfortune. Early in the day I can enter a village with as much arrogance as a Picaresque knave of the Golden Age ; no bands of urchins throw- ing stones at my portly figure dismay me ; no yelping dogs make me tremble; I can swing my stout stick and beat back the mangy curs with the nonchalance of a Romany chal.

But when night falls, even the sound of barking terrifies me and I wonder what tricks some of those irrepressible boys may play upon me. Sometimes I deliberately avoided the village at night- time and camped outside. But I had made the mistake of dressing too lightly for the Basque country in that treacherous summer. When I left England I expected to sleep out of doors in the sultry nights of Spain, forgetting that the Basque country is mountainous and open to the squalls from the Bay of Biscay.

After passing through the town of Zarauz I searched for a comfortable nook where I could pass the night. At last I discovered a sheltered corner off the road at the foot of some trees. After light- ing a fire of twigs I laid my cape upon the ground and prepared for sleep. How simple are the needs of a wanderer who tramps through the world by himself.

My cape of black and white plaid was given me by a shepherd — z rough cape it was, but it was an efficient wrap on a summer night provided there was not too heavy a fall of dew. My capa is a poor one, but I have my wine-skin handy. A plague on my thoughtlessness : why did I not fill it at Zarauz?

There is no companion fit for the lonely watches of the night save the bota. Whether it was the lack of wine to mellow my rest I do not know, but I could not sleep. The night was heavy and sultry and the heavy smell of the earth and the thick vegetation filled the air. In the distance I heard the monotonous murmur of the waves beating upon the rocks below the diffs. At last, after tossing about on my hard couch, I snatched a brief period of rest.

Then drops of rain pattered upon me and a slight breeze shook the branches of the trees above. Soon there was a heavy downpour. In a few minutes I was drenched through and I began to fear that the rain would even soak through my light violin- case and injure the instrument. Gathering up my be- longings I struggled out of my leafy den and made for the road. The wind had risen now and was blowing the rain in my face as I struggled, and there was not a light anywhere.

I had one crushed cigarette in my pocket which I tried to light, but alas my matches were soaked! Not a drop of wine in my bota, not a crumb of bread or cheese in my rucksack — I was in a state of mournful misery. Then my Sancho Panza person- ality cursed my Quixotic nature with all the expletives at his command. I am a knight-errant : I long for hardship. Few adventures come to the man who lies in slothful ease upon a feather bed. Rage on, wind, and let the skies pour rain in pailfuls.

I knocked at the door — timidly at first but then with ever-increasing sound. Then in a little window on the second floor I saw the light of a candle. I shouted. Then suddenly the light went out, but I could see a white face pressed against the glass. The pale face stared at me but did not move. The rain ran down my face and neck in streams. I was desperate and I gesticulated in excited fashion; I threw pebbles up at the window ; I rushed over and knocked at the door.

Five minutes, ten minutes, fifteen minutes passed, but no one descended to open the door. The white face still stared at me from the window, without moving. To this day I still wonder whether it was a real face at the window or whether it was my hallucination. After leaving the house I went to two others, but I met with no better success.

Decidedly the fates were against me that night. After knocking imsuccessfuUy at the third house I gave up trying to appeal to humanity and I searched for a shed where I could lie in shelter until dawn. My teeth were chattering with cold, I was drenched to the skin and there was no possibility of obtaining a light. At last I discovered a rough outhouse with some straw in the comer, where I was able to divest myself of some of my drenched garments. Then in order to restore my cicculation I practised Swedish exercises with as much vigour as a sergeant-major.

In aU such uncomfortable predicaments our guardian angel does not leave us altogether forlorn. At the mo- ment of blackest despaic there is always the ray of hope. No nectar or ambrosia ever tasted so sweet as did that four-franc brandy. It was the softest pillow I have ever slept upon. Though I felt stiff and rheumatic after my wet night I tramped along and soon reached the small town of Guetaria.

I did not linger in Guetaria, for my halting-place was to be Zumaya, about ten kilometres farther along the coast. I was hot, dusty and dis- hevelled after my tramp and I was unshaven. He will welcome me all the mote if I knock at his doot as a penniless, ragged mmstrel. Yes, he will understand a picaro, but what about his butler and footman?

The sound echoed and re-echoed through the hall and porch. At the same moment a gigantic wolfhound sprang out of a corner at me. I then discovered that the wolf- hound was chained to his kennel. After a moment an old woman came to the door, but when she saw me she muttered what I am sure was the word mendigos and disappeared. I then played as a tune of salutation a good old Basque song. Before I reached the end of the tune I heard a loud roar of laughter and Don Ignacio Zuloaga came towards me with open arms.

Don Ignacio Zuloaga is a tall and sturdily built man, with the muscular shoulders of an athlete. He is over sixty years of age, but his ruddy complexion and mous- tache give him a youthful appearance. On his head he wore his boina or Basque cap at a rakish angle and I compared him mentally to a well-known pelota player I had known at Saint Jean de Luz.

Don Ignacio, I may add, is a very good pelota player and has beaten some of the champions. The real secret of his restless agility, his bright eye and his rhythmic poise is his skill as a bull-fighter. One of the first souvenirs he showed me was the collection of bright posters announcing his performances as a matador in various bull-rings of Spain.

All his longing for the feverish excitement of the corrida with its varied colours and intense drama has been trans- lated into his paintings, many of which hang in Euro- pean galleries. In his Gypsy and bull-fight scenes he has always disdained to show the false exotic Spain de pan- dereta, as Juan Valera called it, for he knows the true life of the Romany chals in the Albaicfn or in Cadiz.

After my ascetic life of the past few days, I was able to appreciate to the full the generous hospitality of Don Ignacio. A succulent banquet was served to us in the big porch which looks out on the Cantabrian Sea. Here in Guipuzcoa we have a host of wandering singers and poets who roam from one village to another, reciting ballads and improvising songs. If you were one of those bertsularis or improvisers, you would meet a rival in a posada and then you would stage a contest with him.

The crowd in the inn would give the theme for each of you in turn to improvise upon. And after a long struggle the judges would declare the winner. Yes, my friend, if you were a good singer you could make a mint of money with canciones de maldedr in the traditional style for reviling your enemies, or else can- ciones de amigo for extolling the hospitality of your friends.

Eibar, he told me, was a miniature Toledo of North Spain, inhabited by a popula- tion of metal-workers. In early childhood he worked as an apprentice in the art of damascening, but a chance visit to Madrid led him to the Prado Museum. Hence- forth his mind was made up ; he would be a painter. Veldzquez thrilled him to ecstasy, but it was El Greco who profoundly influenced his life.

Often I went without food, not because I was short of money but because I saved it all to buy an El Greco. In those days people would laugh at me scornfully for my apostolate of El Greco, but instead of paying attention to their gibes, I would tighten my belt, stint my food, borrow money and msh off to buy another masterpiece. El Greco is my god. Come now with me and you will see one of the last works of the enigmatic master. Then telling me to shut my eyes, he drew out the picture from the strong-room and set it at one end of the studio. Through the window I saw a pallid ghostly vision.