Letters of George Borrow to Bible Society by George Borrow - HTML preview

PLEASE NOTE: This is an HTML preview only and some elements such as links or page numbers may be incorrect.
Download the book in PDF, ePub, Kindle for a complete version.

Letter 57: Undated

To the Rev. Andrew Brandram
(ENDORSED: recd. Aug. 23, 1837) JOURNEY FROM ASTORGA TO LUGO

Before proceeding to narrate what befell me in this journey, it will perhaps not be amiss to say a few words concerning Astorga and its vicinity. It is a walled town containing about five or six thousand inhabitants, with a cathedral and college, which last is, however, at present deserted. It is situated on the confines, and may be called the capital, of a tract of land called the country of the Maragatos, which occupies about three square leagues, and has for its north-western boundary a mountain called Telleno, the loftiest of a chain of hills which have their origin near the mouth of the river Minho, and are connected with the immense range which constitutes the frontier of the Asturias and Guipuscoa. The land is ungrateful and barren, and niggardly repays the toil of the cultivator, being for the most part rocky, with a slight sprinkling of a red bricky earth. The Maragatos are perhaps the most singular caste to be found amongst the chequered population of Spain. They have their own peculiar customs and dress, and never intermarry with the Spaniards. Their name is a clue to their origin, as it signifies 'Moorish Goths,' and at this present day their garb differs but little from that of the Moors of Barbary, as it consists of a long tight jacket, secured at the waist by a broad girdle; loose short trowsers which terminate at the knee, and boots and gaiters. Their heads are shaven, a slight fringe of hair being only left at the lower part. If they wore the turban, or barret, they could scarcely be distinguished from the Moors in dress, but in lieu thereof they wear the sombrero or broad slouching hat of Spain. There can be little doubt that they are a remnant of those Goths who sided with the Moors on their invasion of Spain, and who adopted their religion, customs, and manner of dress, which, with the exception of the first, are still to a considerable degree retained. It is, however, evident that their blood has at no time mingled with that of the wild children of the desert, for scarcely amongst the hills of Norway would you find figures and faces more essentially Gothic than those of the Maragatos. They are strong, athletic men, but loutish and heavy, and their features, though for the most part well-formed, are vacant and devoid of expression. They are slow and plain in speech, and those eloquent and imaginative sallies so common in the conversation of other Spaniards seldom or never escape them; they have, moreover, a coarse, thick pronunciation, and when you hear them speak, you almost imagine that it is some German or English peasant attempting to express himself in the language of the Peninsula. They are constitutionally phlegmatic, and it is very difficult to arouse their anger; but they are dangerous and desperate when once incensed, and a person who knew them well told me that he would rather face ten Valencians, people infamous for their ferocity and blood-thirstiness, than confront one angry Maragato, sluggish and stupid though he be on other occasions. The men scarcely ever occupy themselves in husbandry, which they abandon to the females, who plough the flinty fields and gather in the scanty harvests. Their husbands and sons are far differently employed, for they are a nation of ARRIEROS or carriers, and almost esteem it a disgrace to follow any other profession. On every road of Spain, particularly those north of the mountains which divide the two Castiles, may be seen gangs of fives and sixes of these people lolling or sleeping beneath the broiling sun on their gigantic and heavily laden mutes and mules, the boast of Spain, but dearly purchased by the debasement and degeneration of a once noble breed of horses. In a word, almost the entire commerce of nearly one half of Spain passes through the hands of the Maragatos, whose fidelity to their trust is such that no one accustomed to employ them would hesitate to entrust them with the transport of a ton of treasure from the sea of Biscay to Madrid, knowing well that it would not be their fault were it not delivered safe and undiminished even of a grain, and that bold must be the thieves who would seek to wrest it from the far-feared Maragatos, who would cling to it whilst they could stand, and would cover it with their bodies when they fell in the act of loading or discharging their long carbines.

But they are far from being disinterested, and if they are the most trustworthy of all the ARRIEROS of Spain, they in general demand for the transport of articles a sum at least double of what others of the trade would esteem a reasonable recompense. By this means they accumulate large sums of money, notwithstanding that they indulge themselves in a far superior fare to that which contents in general the parsimonious Spaniard - another argument in favour of their pure Gothic descent; for the Maragatos, like true men of the north, delight in swilling liquors and battening upon gross and luscious meats, which help to swell out their tall and goodly figures. Many of them have died possessed of considerable riches, part of which they have not unfrequently bequeathed to the erection or embellishment of religious houses. On the east end of the cathedral of Astorga, which towers over the lofty and precipitous wall, a colossal figure of lead may be seen on the roof. It is the statue of a Maragato carrier, who endowed the cathedral with a large sum. He is in his national dress, but his head is averted from the land of his fathers, and whilst he waves in his hand a species of flag, he seems to be summoning his race from their unfruitful region to other climes where a richer field is open to their industry and enterprise.

I spoke to several of these men respecting the all-important subject of religion; but 'I found their hearts blunted, and with their ears they heard heavily, and their eyes were closed.' There was one in particular to whom I showed the New Testament and addressed for a considerable time. He listened, or seemed to listen, patiently, taking occasional copious draughts from an immense jug of whitish wine which stood between his knees. After I had concluded, he said: 'Tomorrow I set out for Lugo, whither I am told yourself are going. If you wish to send your chest, I have no objection to take it at so much (naming an extravagant price). As for what you have told me, I understand little of it and believe not a word of it; but in respect to the books which you have shown me, I will take three or four. I shall not read them, it is true, but I have no doubt that I can sell them at a higher price than you demand.'

So much for the Maragatos.

It was four o'clock of a beautiful morning that we sallied from Astorga, or rather from the suburbs in which we had been lodged; we directed our course to the north in the direction of Galicia. Leaving the mountain Telleno on our left, we passed along the eastern skirts of the land of the Maragatos over broken uneven ground, enlivened here and there by small green valleys and runs of water. Several of the Maragato women mounted on donkeys passed us on their way to Astorga whither they were carrying vegetables; we saw others in the fields handling their rude ploughs drawn by lean oxen; we likewise passed through a small village in which we however saw no living soul. Near this village we entered the high road which leads direct from Madrid to Corunna, and at last having travelled near four leagues we came to a species of pass formed on our left by a huge lumpish hill (one of those which descend from the great mountain Telleno), and on our right by one of considerably less altitude. In the middle of this pass which was of considerable breadth, a noble view opened itself to us. Before us, at the distance of about a league and a half, rose the mighty frontier chain of which I have spoken before; its blue sides and broken and picturesque peaks still wearing a thin veil of the morning mist, which the fierce rays of the sun were fast dispelling. It seemed an enormous barrier threatening to oppose our further progress, and it reminded me of the fables respecting the children of Magog, who are said to reside in remotest Tartary behind a gigantic wall of rocks which can only be passed by a gate of steel a thousand cubits in height.

We shortly after arrived at Manzanal, a village consisting of wretched huts, and exhibiting every sign of poverty and misery. It was now time to refresh ourselves and horses, and we accordingly put up at a kind of VENTA, the last habitation in the village, where, though we found barley for the animals, we had much difficulty in procuring anything for ourselves. I was at last fortunate enough to obtain a large jug of milk, for there were plenty of cows in the neighbourhood feeding in a picturesque valley which we had passed by, in which there was abundance of grass and trees and a run of water broken by tiny cascades. The jug might contain about half a gallon, but I emptied it in a few minutes, for the thirst of fever was still burning within me though I was destitute of appetite. The VENTA had something the appearance of a German baiting house. It consisted of an immense stable, from which was partitioned a kind of kitchen and a place where the family slept. The master, a robust young man, lolled on a large solid stone bench which stood within the door. He was very inquisitive respecting news, but I could afford him none; whereupon he became communicative, and gave me the history of his life, the sum of which was that he had been a courier in the Basque provinces, but about a year since had been despatched to this village where he kept the post-house. He was an enthusiastic liberal, and spoke in bitter terms of the surrounding population, who, he said, were all Carlists and friends of the friars. I paid little attention to his discourse, for I was looking at a Maragato lad of about fourteen who served in the house as a kind of ostler. I asked the master if we were still in the land of the Maragatos, but he told me that we had left it behind nearly a league, and that the lad was an orphan, and was serving until he could rake up a sufficient capital to become an ARRIERO. I addressed several questions to the boy, but the urchin looked sullenly in my face, and either answered by monosyllables or was doggedly silent. I asked him if he could read: 'Yes,' said he, 'as much as that black brute of yours who is tearing down the manger.'

Quitting Manzanal, we continued our course, the ground gradually descending; we soon arrived at a place where the road took a turn to the west, though previously it had tended due north. We now found that we had to descend the steep sides of a deep and narrow valley which wound amongst mountains, not those of the chain which we had seen before us and which we had left at our right, but those of the Telleno range, just before they unite with that chain. Arrived at the brink of the valley we turned into a foot-path, to avoid making a considerable circuit, for we saw the road on the other side of the valley opposite to us about a furlong [distant], and the path appeared to lead direct towards it. We had not gone far before we met two Galicians on their way to cut the harvests of Castile. One of them shouted, 'Cavalier, turn back: in a moment you will be amongst precipices where your horses will break their necks, for we ourselves could scarcely climb them on foot.' The other cried, 'Cavalier, proceed, but be careful, and your horses, if sure-footed, will run no great danger; my comrade is a fool.' A violent dispute instantly ensued between the two mountaineers, each supporting his opinion with loud oaths and curses; but without stopping to see the result I passed on. But the path was now filled with stones and huge slaty rocks, on which my horse slid, frequently on his haunches. I likewise heard the sound of water in a deep gorge, which I had hitherto not perceived, and I soon saw that it would be worse than madness to proceed. I turned my horse and was hastening to regain the path which I had left, when Antonio, my faithful Greek, pointed out to me a meadow, by which he said we might regain the high road much lower down than if we returned on our steps. The meadow was brilliant with short green grass, and in the middle there was a small rivulet of water. I spurred my horse on, expecting to be in the high road in a moment; the horse, however, snorted and stared wildly, and was evidently unwilling to cross the seemingly inviting spot. I thought that the scent of a wolf or some other wild animal might have disturbed him, but was soon undeceived by his sinking up to the knees in a bog. The animal uttered a shrill sharp neigh, and exhibited every sign of the greatest terror, making at the same time great efforts to extricate himself, and plunging forward, but every moment sinking deeper. At last he arrived where a small vein of rock showed itself, on this he placed his fore feet, and with one tremendous exertion freed himself from the deceitful soil, springing over the rivulet and alighting on comparatively firm ground, where he stood panting, his heaving sides covered with a foamy sweat. Antonio, who had been a terrified observer of the whole scene, afraid to venture forward, returned by the path by which we came and shortly afterwards rejoined me. This adventure brought to my recollection the meadow with its foot-path, which tempted Christian from the straight road to heaven, and finally conducted him to the dominions of the Giant Despair.

NO HAY ATAJO SIN TRABAJO.

 

'There is no short cut Without some deep rut.'

 

says the Spanish proverb.

We now began to descend the valley by a broad and excellent CARRETERA, or carriage road, which was cut out of the steep side of the mountain on our right. On our left was the gorge, down which tumbled the run of water which I have before mentioned. The road was tortuous, and at every turn the scene became more picturesque. The gorge gradually widened, and the brook at its bottom, fed by a multitude of springs, [grew] more considerable; but it was soon far beneath us, pursuing its headlong course till it reached level ground, where it flowed in the midst of a beautiful but confined prairie. There was something silvan and savage in the mountains on the further side, clad from foot to pinnacle with trees, so closely growing that the eye was unable to obtain a glimpse of the hill- sides which were uneven with ravines and gulleys, the haunts of the wolf, the wild boar and the CORSO or mountain-stag; the last of which, as I was informed by a peasant who was driving a car of oxen, frequently descended to feed in the prairie and were shot for the sake of their skins, for the flesh being strong and disagreeable is held at no account. But notwithstanding the wildness of these regions, the handiworks of man were visible. The sides of the gorge though precipitous were yellow with little fields of barley, and we saw a hamlet and church down in the prairie below, whilst merry songs ascended to our ears from where the mowers were toiling with their scythes, cutting the luxuriant and abundant grass. I could scarcely believe that I was in Spain, in general so brown, so arid and cheerless, and I almost fancied myself in Greece, in that land of ancient glory, whose mountain and forest scenery Theocritus has so well described.

At the bottom of the valley we entered a small village washed by the brook, which had now swelled almost to a stream. A more romantic situation I had never witnessed. It was surrounded and almost overhung by huge mountains, and embowered in trees of various kinds; waters sounded, nightingales sang, and the cuckoo's full note boomed from the distant branches, but the village was miserable. The huts were built of slate-stones, of which the neighbouring hills seemed to be principally composed, and roofed with the same, but not in the neat tidy manner of English houses, for the slates were of all sizes, and seemed to be flung on in confusion. We were spent with heat and thirst, and sitting down on a stone bench I entreated a woman to give us a little water. The woman said she would, but added that she expected to be paid for it. My Greek on hearing this burst into horrid execrations, and speaking Greek, Turkish and Spanish invoked the vengeance of the PANHAGIA on the heartless woman, saying 'If I were to offer a Mahometan gold for a draught of water, he would dash it in my face; and you are a Catholic with the stream running at your door.' I told him to be silent, and giving the woman two CUARTOS repeated my request; whereupon she took a pitcher, and, going to the stream, filled it with water. It tasted muddy and disagreeable, but it drowned the fever which was devouring me.

We again mounted and proceeded on our way, which for a considerable distance lay along the margin of the stream, which now fell in small cataracts, now brawled over stones, and at other times ran dark and silent through deep pools overhung with tall willows - pools which seemed to abound with the finny tribe, for huge trout frequently sprang from the water catching the brilliant fly which skimmed along its deceitful surface. How delightful! The sun was rolling high in the firmament, casting from its girdle of fire the most glorious rays, so that the atmosphere was flickering with their splendour; but their fierceness was either warded off by the shadow of the trees or rendered innocuous either by the refreshing coolness which rose from the waters or by the gentle breezes which murmured at intervals over the meadows 'fanning the cheek or raising the hair' of the wanderer. The hills gradually receded, till at last we entered a plain where tall grass was undulating, and mighty chestnut-trees in full blossom spread their giant and umbrageous boughs. Beneath many stood cars, the tired oxen prostrate on the ground, the cross-bar of the pole which they support pressing heavily on their heads, whilst their drivers were either employed in cooking or were enjoying a delicious SIESTA in the grass and shade. I went up to one of the largest of these groups and demanded of the individuals whether they were in need of the Testament of Jesus Christ. They stared at one another and then at me, till at last a young man who was dandling a long gun in his hands as he reclined demanded of me what it was, at the same time enquiring whether I was a Catalan, 'for you speak hoarse,' said he, 'and are tall and fair like that family.' I sat down amongst them and said I was no Catalan, but I came from a spot in the western sea many leagues distant to sell that book at half the price it cost, and that their souls' welfare depended upon their being acquainted with it. I then explained to them the nature of the New Testament and read to them the Parable of the Sower. They stared at each other again, but said that they were poor and could not buy books. I rose, mounted, and was going away, saying to them: 'Peace bide with you.' Whereupon the young man with the gun rose, and saying; 'CASPITA! this is odd,' snatched the book from my hand, and gave me the price I had demanded.

Perhaps the whole world might be searched in vain for a spot whose natural charms could rival those of this plain or valley of Bembibre, with its wall of mighty mountains, its spreading chestnut-trees, and its groves of oaks and willows which clothe the banks of its stream, a tributary to the Minho. True it is that when I passed through it the candle of heaven was blazing in full splendour, and everything lighted by its rays looked gay, glad and blessed. Whether it would have filled me with the same feelings of admiration if viewed beneath another sky I will not pretend to determine, but it certainly possessed advantages which at no time could fail to delight; for it exhibited all the peaceful beauties of an English landscape blended with something wild and grand, and I thought within myself that he must be a restless dissatisfied man who born amongst those scenes would wish to quit them. At the time I would have desired no better fate than that of a shepherd on the prairies or a hunter on the hills of Bembibre.

Three hours passed away, and we were in another situation. We had halted and refreshed ourselves and horses at Bembibre, a village of mud and slate, and which possessed little to attract attention. We were now ascending, for the road was over one of the extreme ledges of those frontier hills which I have before so often mentioned; but the aspect of heaven had blackened, clouds were rolling rapidly from the west over the mountains, and a cold wind was moaning dismally. 'There is a storm travelling through the air,' said a peasant, whom we overtook mounted on a wretched mule, 'and the Asturians had better be on the look-out, for it is speeding in their direction.' He had scarce spoken when a light so vivid and dazzling that it seemed the whole lustre of the fiery element was concentrated therein broke around us, filling the whole atmosphere, and covering rock, tree and mountain with a glare indescribable. The mule of the peasant tumbled prostrate, while the horse I rode reared himself perpendicularly, and turning round dashed down the hill at headlong speed which for some time it was impossible to check. The lightning was followed by a peal almost as terrible, but distant, for it sounded hollow and deep; the hills, however, caught up its voice, seemingly pitching it along their summits, till it was lost in interminable space. Other flashes and peals succeeded, but slight in comparison, and a few drops of rain; the body of the tempest seemed to be over another region. 'A hundred families are weeping where that bolt fell,' said the peasant, when I rejoined him, 'for its blaze has blinded my mule at six leagues' distance.' He was leading the animal by the bridle, as its sight was evidently affected. 'Were the friars still in their nest above there,' he continued, 'I should say that this was their doing, for they are the cause of all the miseries of the land.'

I raised my eyes in the direction in which he pointed. Half-way up the mountain over whose foot we were wending jutted forth a black, frightful crag, which at an immense altitude overhung the road and seemed to threaten destruction. It resembled one of those ledges of the rocky mountains in the picture of the deluge, up to which the terrified fugitives have scrambled from the eager pursuit of the savage and tremendous billow, down on which they are gazing in horror, whilst above them rise still higher and giddier heights to which they seem unable to climb. Built on the very rim of this crag stood an edifice, seemingly devoted to the purposes of religion, as I could discern the spire of a church rearing itself high over wall and roof. 'That is the house of "The Virgin of the Rocks,"' said the peasant, 'and it was lately full of friars, but they have been driven out, and the only inmates now are owls and ravens.' I replied that their life in such a bleak exposed abode could not have been very enviable, as in winter they must have incurred great risk of perishing with cold. 'By no means,' said he; 'they had the best of wood for their BRASEROS and chimneys, and the best of wine to warm them at their meals, which were not the most sparing; moreover they had another convent down in the vale yonder, to which they could retire at their pleasure.' I asked him the reason of his antipathy to the friars, to which he replied that he had been their vassal, and that they had deprived him every year of the flower of what he possessed. Discoursing in this manner we reached a village just below the convent, where he left me, having first pointed out to me a house of stone with an image over the door, which he said once also belonged to the CANALLA (rabble) above.

The sun was setting fast, and, eager to reach Villafranca, where I had determined on resting and which was still distant three leagues and a half, I made no halt at this place. The road was now down a rapid and crooked descent which terminated in a valley, at the bottom of which was a long and narrow bridge. Beneath it rolled a river descending from a wide pass between two mountains, for the chain was here cleft probably by some convulsion of nature. I looked up the pass and on the hills on both sides. Far above on my right, but standing out bold and clear, and catching the last rays of the sun, was 'the Convent of the Precipices'; whilst directly over against it, on the further side of the valley, rose the perpendicular side of the rival hill which, to a considerable extent intercepting the light, flung its black shadow over the upper end of the pass, involving it in mysterious darkness. Emerging from the centre of this gloom with thundering sound dashed a river, white with foam and bearing along with it huge stones and branches of trees, for it was the wild Sil, probably at that [time] swollen by the recent rains, which I now saw hurrying to the ocean from its cradle in the heart of the Asturian hills. Its fury, its roar, and the savage grandeur of the surrounding scenery which was worthy of the pencil of Salvator recalled to my mind the powerful lines of Stolberg addressed to a mountain torrent -

'The pine-trees are shaken, they yield to thy shocks, And, crashing, they tumble in wild disarray; The rocks fly before thee - thou seizest the rocks And whirlst them, like pebbles, contemptuous away.'

Hours again passed away. It was now night, and we were in the midst of woodlands, feeling our way, for the darkness was so great that I could scarcely see the length of a yard before my horse's head. The animal seemed uneasy, and would frequently stop short, prick up his ears, and utter a low mournful whine. Flashes of sheet-lightning frequently illumed the black sky and flung a momentary glare over our path. No sound interrupted the stillness of the night save the slow tramp of the horses' hoofs, and occasionally the croaking of frogs from some pool or morass. I now bethought me that I was in Spain, the chosen land of the two fiends, assassination and plunder, and how easily two tired unarmed wanderers might become their victims. We at last cleared the woodlands, and after proceeding a short distance the horse gave a joyous neigh and broke into a smart trot. A barking of dogs speedily reached my ears, and we seemed to be approaching some town or village. In effect we were close to Cacabelos, a town about five miles distant from Villafranca.

It was now near eleven at night, and I reflected that it would be far more expedient to tarry in this place till the morning than to attempt at present to reach Villafranca, exposing ourselves to all the horrors of darkness in a lonely and unknown road. My mind was soon made up on this point - but I determined without my hosts, for at the first POSADA which I attempted to enter I was told that we could not be accommodated, and particularly our horses, as the stable was full of water. At the second (there were but two), I was answered from the window by a gruff voice nearly in the words of Scripture: 'Trouble me not, the gate is already locked, and my servants are also with me in bed; I cannot arise to let you in.' Indeed we had no particular desire to enter, as it appeared a wretched hovel; though the poor horses pawed piteously against the door, and seemed to crave admittance.

We had now no choice but to resume our doleful way to Villafranca, which we were told was a short league distant, though it proved a league and a half. We however found it no easy matter to quit the town, for we were bewildered amongst its labyrinths and could not find the outlet. A lad about eighteen was, however, persuaded by the promise of a PESETA to guide us, whereupon he led us by many turnings to a bridge which he told us to cross and to follow the road, which was that of Villafranca; he then, having received his fee, hastened from us.

We followed his directions, not, however, without a suspicion that he might be deceiving us. The night had settled darker down upon us, so that it was impossible to distinguish any object, however nigh. The lightning had become more faint and rare. We heard the rustling of trees and occasionally the barking of dogs, which last sound, however, soon ceased, and we were in the midst of night and silence. My horse, either from weariness or the badness of the road, frequently stumbled; whereupon I dismounted, and leading him by the bridle, soon left my companion far in the rear. I had proceeded in this manner a considerable way when a circumstance occurred of a character well suited to the time and place.

I was again amidst trees and bushes, when the horse, stopping short, nearly pulled me back. I know not how it was, but fear suddenly came over me, which, though in darkness and in solitude, I had not felt before. I was about to urge the animal forward, when I heard a noise at my right hand, and listened attentively. It seemed to be that of a person or persons forcing their way through branches and brushwood. It soon ceased, and I heard feet on the road. It was the short, staggering kind of tread of people carrying a very heavy substance, nearly too much for their strength, and I thought I [heard] the hurried breathing of men overfatigued. There was a short pause in the middle of the road; then the stamping recommenced until it reached the other side, when I again heard a similar rustling amidst branches; it continued for some time, and died gradually away.

I continued my road, musing on what had just occurred and forming conjectures as to the cause. The lightning resumed its flashing, and I saw that I was approaching tall black mountains - But I will omit further particulars of this midnight journey.

'QUIEN VIVE,' roared a voice about an hour from this time, for I had at last groped my way to Villafranca. It proceeded from the sentry at the suburb, one of those singular half soldiers, half GUERILLAS, called Miguelets, who are in general employed by the Spanish Government to clear the roads of robbers. I gave the usual answer 'ESPANA,' and went up to the place where he stood. After a little conversation, I sat down on a stone, awaiting the arrival of Antonio, who was long in making his appearance. On his arrival I asked him if any one had passed him on the road, but he replied that he had seen nothing. The night, or rather morning, was still very dark, though a small corner of the moon was occasionally visible. On our enquiring the way to the gate, the Miguelet directed us down a street to the left, which we followed. The street was steep, we could see no gate, and our progress was soon stopped by houses and wall. We knocked at the gates of two or three of these houses (in the upper stories of which lights were burning) for the purpose of being set right, but we were either disregarded or not heard. A horrid squalling of cats from the tops of the houses and dark corners saluted our ears, and I thought of the night-arrival of Don Quixote and his squire at Tobosa, and their vain search amongst the deserted streets for the palace of Dulcinea. At length we saw light and heard voices in a cottage at the further side of a kind of ditch. Leading the horses over, we called at the door, which was opened by an aged man, who appeared by his dress to be a baker, as indeed he proved, which accounted for his being up at so late an hour. On begging him to show us the way into the town, he led us up a very narrow alley at the end of his cottage, saying that he would likewise conduct us to the POSADA. The alley led directly to what appeared to be the market- place, at a corner house of which our guide stopped and knocked. After a long pause an upper window was opened, and a female voice demanded who we were. The old man replied that two travellers had arrived who were in need of lodging. 'I cannot be disturbed at this time of night,' said the woman, 'they will be wanting supper, and there is nothing in the house; they must go elsewhere.' She was going to shut the window, but I cried that we wanted no supper, but merely a resting-place for ourselves and horses, that we had come that day from Astorga, and were dying with fatigue. 'Who is that speaking?' cried the woman. 'Surely that is the voice of Gil, the German clock-maker from Pontevedra. Welcome, old companion, you are come at the right time, for my own is out of order. I am sorry I kept you waiting, but I will admit you in a moment.'
The window was slammed to; presently light shone through the crevices if the door, a key turned in the lock, and we were admitted.