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La Serie de Lenguaje Moderno del Librero Heath - Historias Cortas by Elijah Clarence Hills, Ph. D and Louise Reinhardt - HTML preview

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Heath's Modern Language Series
















These Spanish Short Stories are, for the most part, realistic picturesof the manners and customs of modern Spain, written by masters ofSpanish prose. All were written in the second half of the nineteenthcentury or in the first decade of the twentieth,—

except the story byLarra, which was written about seventy-five years ago. And all describerecent conditions,—except the tale, partly historical and partlylegendary, by Bécquer, which goes back to the invasion of Spain by theFrench under Napoleon in

the early years of the nineteenth century; thestory by Larra, which, however, is nearly as true of Castile to-day asit was when written; and Trueba's story, which is partly legendary,partly symbolic, and partly realistic. The stories by Bécquer and PérezGaldós contain incidents that are supernatural, and those by FernánCaballero and Alarcón have romantic settings that are highly improbable;but all the stories are, in the main, true to the every-day life ofcontemporary Spain.

The Spanish stories in this collection have been arranged, so far aspossible, in the order of difficulty; but some instructors willdoubtless prefer to read them in chronological order, or, better still,in an order determined by the "school", or literary affiliations, ofeach author. This latter arrangement is difficult to make, and it mustbe, at the best, somewhat arbitrary. But to those who wish to study inthese stories the growth of contemporary Spanish fiction, it issuggested that the authors be taken up in the order in which they aregiven in the Introduction.

To the stories by Spanish authors have been added two bySpanish-American

writers,—the one a native of Costa Rica, the other ofChile. These stories are excellent and well worth reading. For a fullerstatement regarding them, see the last pages of the Introduction.

The texts have been taken from standard editions (see the first note toeach story).

The integrity of the texts has been scrupulously preserved,with only the two following changes: (1) the orthography has been madeto conform to that of the latest editions of the Dictionary and the Grammar of the Royal Spanish Academy; and (2) a few omissions from thetexts have been made, all of which are marked by five suspensive


The Vocabulary contains the more irregular verb-forms, and it has alsodescriptions

of the important places and biographies of the noted menand women that are mentioned in the texts.

The editors offer these Spanish Short Stories as suitable material tobe read immediately after a beginners' book.

E. C. H.

L. R.



















































A, B, C, CH, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, L, LL, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, Y,Z


At the beginning of the nineteenth century Spain was awakened from hertorpor by

the assault of the French armies under Napoleon (in 1808), andthere ensued the tremendous struggle known in Spanish history as the Warof Independence ( Guerra de la Independencia). When the Spanish people,though deserted by many of those to whom they looked for leadership, hadworn out the French by their stubborn resistance, a new disaster fell totheir lot. Their American colonies, extending from California to thestraits of Magellan, fell away from the mother country one by one, untilonly a few islands were left. And through it all the peninsula was rentby civil discord. Spain sank to the lowest level of inefficiency andcorruption, and was forced to drink the bitter dregs of humiliation anddespair. But from her travail there came a new birth. With the expulsionof Isabel II in 1868, Spain entered upon a new life. She has since thensuffered from civil and foreign wars and from internal dissensions, butshe has grown in wealth and strength and intellectual cultivation, untilthere is once more in the heart of her people the hope of ultimate andcomplete redemption.

In Europe generally the nineteenth century brought to literature aresumption of religious sentiment and of the artistic sense, with theirappeal to the emotions, and lyricism became the dominant note inletters. The romanticists turned to history and legend for theirmaterial, rather than to contemporary life. The cult of the medievalbrought with it much that was sentimental or grotesquely fantastic, butit awakened in the people a renewed interest in their past history. AllSpaniards worship the past, for Spain was once great; and whenromanticism came from France and England into Spain, it was warmlywelcomed. The historical novel flourished beyond

measure. The artificialepic in ottava rima, imitated from the Italian, gave way to a flood ofpseudo-historical romances which followed the lead of Sir Walter Scottand the elder Dumas. They were mostly weak imitations, carelessly doneand without depth or brilliancy. The best presentation of Spanishlegends was made by José Zorrilla (1817-1893) in verse: his work hasenduring value. But the historical romance turned the mind of the readeraway from adventures in classic lands or in the orient, and brought hisown land to his attention. It thus caused renewed interest in theone-time native excellence of Spanish literature, and it also paved theway for the national novel of manners. The historical romance has nowtaken a secondary place in fiction;

but it was cultivated till quiterecently by so virile and popular a writer as Pérez Galdós.

Before passing on to the modern school of realists, mention must be madeof a writer whose influence has been far-reaching. This is BÉCQUER,[A] apoet, writer of short stories, and journalist. His tales are mostlylegendary, and are imbued with morbid mysticism. He is primarily a poet,for even his prose has the poetic fancy, and, to a large extent, themusic of verse. Bécquer's lyric verse is perhaps the most finished thatwas written in Spain during the nineteenth century, although it has lessforce than that of Núñez de Arce. The dreamy, fairy-like mysticism ofBécquer's writings has been widely imitated throughout the entireSpanish-speaking world.

Although modern realism triumphed in Spain only with the coming ofFernán

Caballero's La gaviota in 1848, the ground was prepared inadvance by several writers, the more important of whom are Larra,Estébanez de Calderón and Mesonero


LARRA,[B] many of whose writings appeared over the pen-name Fígaro,was a master of Castilian prose; but even his best work is marred by amorbid distrust of human nature. In his satirical articles he attacksthe follies and weaknesses of contemporary Spanish life with bitingsarcasm and bitter invective: he criticizes not to reform but to crush.There was in him little milk of human kindness, but he was not afraid ofman or devil. He tried his hand at the romantic drama and novel withlittle success. Larra's most enduring works are his critical reviews andhis essays on manners.

Writing with the pen-name El Solitario, Serafín Estébanez de Calderón(1799-1867), gave in his Escenas andaluzas fairly true pictures of themanners and customs of the lower classes of Andalusia in his day. Thisvolume was published in 1847, but

many of the articles had appeared muchearlier in periodicals.

In 1842 El curioso Parlante, Ramón de Mesonero Romanos (1803-1882),published his Escenas matritenses. The author was a kindly scoffer,and in this work he gave merry pictures of Madrid customs, writtensimply and accurately in language that was

chosen but diffuse.

In 1848 FERNÁN CABALLERO[C] published La Gaviota, a story dealinglargely with the manners and customs of Andalusia. This work, which hasprobably been the most

widely read of all Spanish novels since DonQuijote, marked the transition from romanticism to present-day realismin Spanish literature, as Flaubert's Madame Bovary did in Frenchletters ten years later. Fernán Caballero was probably influenced by the Escenas andaluzas, the Escenas matritenses and Larra's essays onmanners; and it is quite possible that from her German friends came toher some of the modern spirit

of scientific investigation that led herto declare the novel to be "not the product of invention, but ofobservation." She practiced this theory, however, only in part, for herwork partakes of both the romantic and the realistic. Her storiesusually have a romantic framework of passion and intrigue that is alwaysunreal and often dull; but within this framework, almost in the natureof digressions, there are pictures of home life among the lowlyAndalusian peasants that are charming in their simple, refined realism.No better work than that of some of these realistic scenes has ever beendone in Spanish fiction, and yet it is nearly always found in badcompany. Crimes, sentimental episodes, ultra-Catholic preachments andtrue pictures of the life of the humble are jumbled together in a queermedley. The work is evidently that of a clever but untrained mind, thatwas largely controlled by its emotions. Her later works are marred byextreme religiosity and a growing habit of scolding.

It has been well said that the realistic novel in Spain is essentiallyprovincial or regional.[D] The people of the several provinces of Spaindiffer greatly. The proud, stern Castilian; the gentle, pleasure-lovingAndalusian; the Catalán, alert and practical; the light-hearted,turbulent Valencian; and the plodding, dreamy Galician,—all thesediffer as do the lands in which they dwell. A realistic literature,therefore, that describes accurately the doings and the environment ofSpanish villagers must be regional: it can not be broadly national.

After Fernán Caballero had begun to tell of life in southern Spain,PEREDA[E] came forth with tales of the northern mountainland, the Montaña, that lies on the shore of the Cantabrian Sea. Pereda was,perhaps, the most provincial, the least cosmopolitan, of modern Spanishwriters. An old-fashioned hidalgo, or country gentleman, he rarelyleft his ancestral home at Polanco, and if he did go away, he was alwayssorry for it. In politics he was a conservative and a Carlist, and hiswritings evince a hostile attitude towards modernism. Pereda was themost reactionary, Pérez Galdós one of the

most progressive, of modernSpanish writers; but the two men were the best of friends, which goes toshow that neither was narrow. Pereda's language is academically correct,with some of the flavor of Cervantes; but his thought is oftenponderous, or even obscure. He is at his best when he pictures theuncouth homely life of his highland peasants or simple fisher-folk. Thishe does with the truthfulness of the most scrupulous realist, butwithout stooping to pornographic detail. The Escenas montañesas









Escenasmatritenses. The better known works of Pereda are Don Gonzalo Gonzálezde la Gonzalera, Pedro Sánchez, and Sotileza.

In the Spain of the past fifty years, the most cosmopolitan man ofletters, and the writer of the most polished prose, has been JUANVALERA,[F] poet, novelist, literary critic, and, first of all,diplomat. At one time he also sought to become a realist, but his naturerevolted. He was always an idealist, and at times a mystic. Valera's Pepita Jiménez is perhaps the master-piece of Spanish prose fiction ofthe nineteenth century, and it shows some attempt at realism. His shortstories are fantastic and allegorical, or are translations from otherlanguages.

Pedro Antonio de ALARCÓN[G] was by nature and training a journalist. Heserved his apprenticeship as a writer on the staff of several radicaljournals. A volunteer in the African war of 1859, he won a cross forgallantry in battle, and his account of the war brought him sudden fameas a writer. In his earlier novels Alarcón was fond of sensation, asyoung writers are wont to be. He was extravagant in description andintemperate in criticism, keen of observation but shallow; and he showeda lack of sense of proportion; but he had a versatility and dash thatbrought him some meed of popularity. In later life Alarcón passed overfrom radicalism to conservatism in politics, and his writings becamemore sober in tone. His best stories are probably El sombrero de trespicos, El capitán Veneno, and some of his Novelas cortas.

Of the lesser writers of stories of manners and customs, Antonio deTrueba and Narciso Campillo should receive especial mention. At one timeTRUEBA[H] shared with Fernán Caballero the esteem and admiration ofSpanish readers; but he is now nearly

forgotten, except among hisfellow-countrymen, the Basques of northern Spain. A journalist, poet,and writer of short stories, Trueba is best known as an interpreter ofBasque life. Though a conservative and a monarchist, he loved the commonpeople,

and he delighted in describing their customs and in collectingtheir traditions. In his tales of manners and customs he idealized thesimple life of the country folk almost beyond recognition, and he workedover and embellished their traditions to suit his taste. His works arepervaded by a genial, kindly humor; but his language is not seldom dulland insipid.

NARCISO CAMPILLO[I] is known as a poet and a writer of short stories.His prose writings have a light and graceful humor that is peculiarlyAndalusian.

The most important Spanish novelists now (in 1910) living are PérezGaldós, Pardo

Bazán, Palacio Valdés, and Blasco Ibáñez. Of these thefirst is now usually classed as a writer of psychological novels andplays, and the others as naturalistic novelists.

PÉREZ GALDÓS[J] began as a writer of historical romances modeled largelyafter those of Erckmann-Chatrian. His Episodios nacionales treat ofthe War of Independence (called by the English the "Peninsular War")against the French under Napoleon and of the immediately followingyears. These works are not historically accurate; but they present in anentertaining way the elemental facts of an important period in Spanishhistory. Their appeal to Spanish pride and patriotism won for them

anextraordinary popularity in Spain, although they are little knownoutside of the peninsula. From the historical struggles of the pastPérez Galdós next turned his attention to the inner struggle that is nowgoing on in Spain between conservatism and modern progress, and hisprolific pen produced a series of interesting psychological novels. Heis a firm believer in the ultimate good of modern progress, but hepresents pitilessly and with the impartiality of a judge some of thetragedies that result from the readjustment of conditions. A liberal inpolitics and religion, Pérez Galdós attacks not the Church and State butthe abuses that have grown up under their sheltering wing. It isneedless to say that his polemical writings, though presented in thesugar-coated form of highly entertaining novels, are not taken withpleasure by the monarchists and ultra-Catholics; but they are receivedwith joy by the large and rapidly increasing numbers of liberals. PérezGaldós' literary activities are now devoted chiefly to the drama which,it would appear, he considers a better vehicle than the novel for theexpression of his views. The later work of Pérez Galdós is realistic,but it is in no sense regional. Rather does he seek to be broadlynational in his realism by presenting problems that confront the Spanishpeople as a whole. As a writer, he is often careless and sometimesincorrect. To him the thought he expresses, and not the language inwhich it is expressed, is all-important. As he approaches old age, thereseems to grow upon him the desire, not to be a literary artist, but tobecome a leader in reform.

The Galician PARDO BAZÁN[K] is considered the most highly cultivated andthe most forceful contemporary writer among the women of modern Spain.In theory she has been a disciple of French naturalism, and some of hernovels, particularly Los Pazos de Ulloa and La madre Naturaleza,have somewhat of the repulsive realism of Zola's work. At times sheexpresses a cold cynicism or a mocking flippancy which detracts

from theusual charm of her writings. She pleases most in her picturesquedescriptions of the life and manners of her fellow-Galicians. PardoBazán early founded a critical review, El Nuevo Teatro Crítico, and inthis and in other periodicals she has published many valuable articlesof literary criticism. She is now giving her time and thought chiefly tocritical work. Her most popular novel is probably Pascual López.

PALACIO VALDÉS[L] began as a member of the school of naturalists, buthis later works have become more and more idealistic. He has been awriter of regional novels,

like Fernán Caballero and Pereda, but hediffers from the others in that he portrays life now in one province andnow in another, passing from the Asturias to Valencia and from Madrid toAndalusia. This very broadness of outlook has made his work morecosmopolitan than that of any other modern Spanish novelist,—exceptingonly Juan Valera,—and has brought him a large meed of popularity inforeign lands. No other contemporary Spanish writer has been sogenerally translated and so widely read by foreigners as has PalacioValdés.

In his realistic works he is a careful observer and a faithful describerof life, and he is especially successful in his portrayal of theuneventful lives of the middle and lower classes. Although in hisearlier novels he is a pronounced realist, he displays a care-freeoptimism and a sympathetic humor that distinguish his work from thecynicism of

Pardo Bazán and the bitter invectiveness of Blasco Ibáñez,nor has he the seriousness of purpose that characterizes Pérez Galdós.His style is usually direct and simple, but at times it becomes carelessor even dull. His genius is uneven, but when at his best Palacio Valdésis one of the most charming of modern novelists. His better known worksare probably La hermana San Sulpicio and La alegría del capitánRibot.

The most forceful of the younger writers of Spain is the ValencianBLASCO

IBÁÑEZ.[M] His earlier writings were mostly short stories ofmanners and customs. In these vivid pictures of life among theValencians and their neighbors, the influence of Maupassant and Zola iseasily discernible. Blasco Ibáñez next brought forth a series ofpolemical writings, in the form of novels, in which he attacked Churchand State ruthlessly. His literary work is now quieter in tone, but itstill gives evidence that he wishes to arouse the Spanish masses and tolead them on to the complete acquirement

of political and socialequality. His best known work is La barraca.

* * *

Spain has done excellent work in prose fiction during the last fifty orsixty years past, but this work is little known outside of theSpanish-speaking countries. Even those people who are, for the mostpart, well read in the literatures of Europe are generally ignorant ofrecent Spanish fiction. Or if they have read a few of the best Spanishnovels in French or English versions, they may not have found them veryinteresting. This is explained, I take it, by the fact that Spanishliterature is essentially national, and if you do not know the Spanishpeople you can not fully understand their literature. This is largelytrue of all literatures, but it is especially true of the Spanish. TheFrench literature, for instance, is more universal and less nationalthan the Spanish, perhaps by the very force of geographical position.Spain is nearly surrounded by water, and on land it is separated fromthe rest of Europe,—

excepting only Portugal,—by an almostinsurmountable barrier of lofty mountains.

France, on the other hand, isso situated as to feel the cross-currents of European life.

Do not thesefacts explain, at least in part, the relatively insular characteristicsof much contemporary Spanish literature? The Spanish literature,however, by its very provincialism is fascinating to those who areinterested in Spanish civilization.

Although it is doubtless quite true that there has been in modern Spainno writer of

short stories who rivals Guy de Maupassant, nor has therebeen any writer of longer stories who may compare favorably with Honoréde Balzac, yet, as a whole, the Spain

of the nineteenth century hasprobably been pictured as faithfully as France by native authors. AndSpain has to-day a group of vigorous young writers, who give promise ofcarrying the work forward to an even greater future.

* * *

Spanish America has done little work of merit in prose fiction, but ithas produced

much lyric poetry. If we may believe the statements of JuanValera in his Cartas americanas, the Spanish Americans have writtenmore good verse than have the English Americans. In the domain ofletters the Spanish-speaking peoples of America

have been slower thantheir Peninsular cousins to throw off the yoke of French imitation. Mostyoung men of wealth in Spanish America are educated in Paris, and theirCastilian shows unmistakably the effect of their long residence inFrance. This influence may be studied in the works of Manuel Ugarte(even in his Introducción to La joven literatura hispano-americana,Paris, 1906) and of Rubén Darío (cf. La muerte de la emperatriz deChina).

But among the younger writers there are some who show little Frenchinfluence, or

none at all. These may be divided into two classes: (1)those who write only in pure

classical Castilian, and who, if they useAmericanisms at all, use them consciously and with due apologies; and(2) those who write freely and naturally in the current language of theeducated classes of their own particular Spanish-American country.

Torepresent the first of these two types, Un alma, by Ricardo FERNÁNDEZGUARDIA,[N]

has been selected for this volume of Spanish ShortStories. Juan Neira, by Joaquín DÍAZ GARCÉS,[O] has been chosen torepresent the other type. They are both thoroughly good stories, andthey speak well for the future of prose fiction in Spanish America.

E. C. H.


Footnotes to the Introduction:

[A] Don Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer, born in 1836 at Seville. Anorphan in his tenth year, he was educated by his godmother, whom he leftat the age of eighteen to go penniless to Madrid. He suffered manyhardships, and died in 1870 at the early age of thirty-four. Works:three volumes of prose and verse.

[B] Don Mariano José de Larra, born in 1809. His father was amedical officer in the French army (then stationed in Spain) of JosephBonaparte, whom he followed to France after the defeat of the French.Larra returned to Spain at the age of eight. Read law at Valladolid, butdid not complete the prescribed course. Removed to Madrid, and engagedin journalism. Killed himself February 13, 1837, in his twenty-eighthyear. Works: Essays on manners, critical reviews, several unimportantplays, and a novel,— El doncel de D. Enrique el Doliente (1834).

[C] Doña Cecilia Böhl de Faber de Arrom (Fernán Caballero) wasborn in Switzerland in 1796, daughter of a merchant of Hamburg, JohannNikolaus Böhl von Faber, and of a Spanish lady of Cádiz of noble family.Fernán Caballero knew both the Spanish and the German literatures.

Sheoutlived three husbands: Don Antonio Planells y Bardají (m. 1816), DonFrancisco Ruiz de Arco, Marqués de Arco-Hermoso (m. 1822), and DonAntonio Arrom de Ayala (m. 1837, d.

1858). Died in 1877. Works: Lagaviota (1848), called in the English version The Lost Beauty, Lágrimas (1858), La familia de Alvareda (1856), Una en otra(1861), Clemencia (1862), Cuadros de costumbres (1862), et al.

[D] See Modern Spanish Fiction, by Professor William WistarComfort of Cornell University, in the Atlantic Monthly, March, 1907.

[E] Don José María de Pereda, born February 6, 1833, atPolanco, near Santander. Studied in Santander and (engineering) inMadrid. Returned to live in Polanco. Carlist deputy to the Cortes in1871, but found political life distasteful. Elected to the SpanishAcademy in 1897. Died March 1, 1906. Works: Escenas montañesas (1864), Bocetos al temple (1877), Tipos trashumantes (1877), El bueysuelto (1877), Don Gonzalo González de la Gonzalera (1878), PedroSánchez (1883), Sotileza (1884), La Montálvez (1888), La puchera(1889), Nubes de estío (1891), Al primer vuelo (1891), Peñasarriba (1895), Pachín González (1896), et al.

[F] Don Juan Valera y Alcalá Galiano, born in 1827 nearCordova, of illustrious family.

Studied law at Málaga and Granada.Entered diplomacy, and was minister at Washington, Vienna, andelsewhere. Died in 1905. Works: Pepita Jiménez (1874), Las ilusionesdel doctor Faustino (1875), El comendador Mendoza (1877), Doña Luz(1879), and many volumes of tales and of literary criticism.

[G] Don Pedro Antonio de Alarcón, born at Guadix in theProvince of Granada, March 10, 1833 son of a poor country gentleman.Received the Bachelor's degree at Guadix, and studied law for a time atGranada. Entered journalism and politics and was deputy and senator.Enlisted as a volunteer in a war in Morocco. Elected to the SpanishAcademy in 1875. Died July 19, 1891.

Works: El final de Norma (1855), Diario de un testigo de la guerra de África (1860), El sombrero detres picos (1874), El escándalo (1875), El niño de la bola (1880), Novelas cortas (1881), La pródiga (1881), El capitán Veneno(1881), Historia de mis libros (1884), et al.

[H] Don Antonio de Trueba, born in 1821, at Sopuerta in theBasque Provinces. Died in 1889.

Works: Libro de los cantares (1852), Cuentos de color de rosa (1859), Cuentos campesinos (1860), Cuentospopulares (1861), Narraciones populares (1874), Cuentos de vivos ymuertos (1879), Nuevos cuentos populares (1880), et al.

[I] Don Narciso Campillo born in 1838 at Seville. Died in 1900.Works: Poesías (1858), Nuevas poesías (1867), Una docena decuentos (1878), Nuevos cuentos (1881), et al. Campillo alsocollaborated in the collecting and writing of Chascarillos andaluces with Juan Valera, J.

López Valdemoro and Dr. Thebussen.

[J] Don Benito Pérez Galdós, born May 10, 1845, at Las Palmas,Canary Islands. Attended the institute at Las Palmas, and in 1863 wentto Madrid to read law. A republican deputy in the Cortes. Novels: Episodios nacionales (40 vols.), and about forty other novels, ofwhich the most popular are: Trafalgar (1873), Zaragoza (1874), DoñaPerfecta (1876), Gloria, 2 vols. (1877), Marianela (1878), Lafamilia de León Roch, 3 vols. (1878). Fortunata y Jacinta, 4 vols.(1886), Miau (1888), Ángel Guerra, 3 vols. (1890-91), La loca de lacasa (1892). Dramas: Los condenados, La fiera, Electra (1901), Alma y vida, Amor ó ciencia, Mariucha, et al. He has alsodramatized the following of his novels: Realidad, La loca de lacasa, La de San Quentín, Doña Perfecta, et al.

[K] Doña Emilia Pardo Bazán de Quiroga, born Sept. 16, 1851, atCoruña, in the province of Galicia. Married in 1868, and removed toMadrid. Works: articles of literary criticism, and Pascual López(1879), Un viaje de novios (1881). El cisne de Vilamorta (1885), Los Pazos de Ulloa (1886), La madre Naturaleza (1887), Insolación(1889), Morriña (1889), Una cristiana (1890), La prueba (1890), et al.

[L] Don Armando Palacio Valdés, born Oct. 4, 1853, at Entralgo,in the province of Asturias.

His father was a lawyer, and his mother amember of an old family of landed gentry. Studied in Oviedo, and laterread law in Madrid. Engaged in journalism as editor of the RevistaEuropea, and in the writing of prose fiction and critical works. Works: El Señorito Octavio (1881), Marta y María (1883), José (1883), Lahermana San Sulpicio, 2 vols. (1889), La espuma, 2 vols. (1891), Lafe (1892), Aguas fuertes, La aldea perdida, La alegría del capitánRibot, et al.

[M] Don Vicente Blasco Ibáñez, born in 1867 at Valencia, ofpoor parents. Read law. Was expelled from Spain, and after his returnwas imprisoned, on account of the writings of his early youth. Was arepublican deputy from Valencia to the Cortes. Works: Cuentosvalencianos, 2

vols., La barraca, Flor de mayo, La catedral, Elintruso, La bodega, La horda, La maja desnuda, Sangre y arena, et al. See An Apostle of New Spain, by Dr. R. H. Keniston, in TheNation of December 24, 1908.

[N] Don Ricardo Fernández Guardia, born at Alajuela, CostaRica, January 4, 1867. Now minister of foreign affairs ( ministro derelaciones exteriores) in the republic of Costa Rica.

Works: Hojarasca, Cuentos ticos (" tico" is used in Central America inspeaking of an inhabitant of Costa Rica), Magdalena, Eldescubrimiento y la conquista de Costa Rica, Cartilla histórica deCosta Rica.

[O] Don Joaquín Díaz Garcés, born at Santiago, Chile, in 1878:writes over the pen-name Ánjel Pino. He has been a journalist, andwriter of essays and short stories of manners. He is now secretary ofthe Chilean legation at Rome, Italy.





—Aquí{1-2} donde usted me ve soy un asesino.

—¿Cómo es eso, D. Elías?—pregunté riendo, mientras le llenaba la copade cerveza.

Don Elías es el individuo más bondadoso, más sufrido y disciplinado conque cuenta

el cuerpo de Telégrafos, incapaz de declararse en huelga,aunque el director le mande cepillarle los pantalones.

—Sí, señor... hay circunstancias en la vida... llega un momento en queel hombre más pacífico...

—Á ver, á ver; cuente usted eso—dije picado de curiosidad.

—Fué en el invierno del 78.{1-3} Había quedado excedente por reforma, yme fuí á vivir á O... con una hija que allí tengo casada. Mi vida erademasiado buena: comer,

pasear, dormir. Algunas veces ayudaba á miyerno, que está empleado en el

Ayuntamiento, á copiar las minutas delsecretario. Cenábamos invariablemente á las ocho. Después de acostar ámi nieta, que entonces tenía tres años y hoy es una moza

gallarda,rubia, metida en carnes, de esas que á usted le gustan (yo bajé losojos modestamente y bebí un trago de cerveza), me iba á hacer latertulia á Da. Nieves, una señora viuda que vive sola en la calle de laPerseguida, á quien debe mi yerno su empleo. Habita una casa de supropiedad, grande, antigua, de un solo piso,{2-1} con portalón obscuro yescalera de piedra. Solía ir también por allá D. Gerardo Piquero, quehabía sido administrador de la Aduana de Puerto Rico y estaba jubilado.Se murió

hace dos años el pobre. Iba á las nueve; yo nunca llegaba hastadespués de las nueve y media. En cambio, á las diez y media en puntolevantaba tiendas, mientras yo acostumbraba á quedarme hasta las once óalgo más.

Cierta noche me despedí, como de costumbre, á estas horas. Doña Nieveses muy económica, y se trata á lo pobre,{2-2} aunque posee haciendabastante para regalarse y vivir como gran señora. No ponía luz algunapara alumbrar la escalera y el portal.

Cuando D. Gerardo ó yo salíamos,la criada alumbraba con el quinqué de la cocina desde lo alto. En cuantocerrábamos la puerta del portal, cerraba ella la del piso y nos dejabacasi en tinieblas; porque la luz que entraba de la calle era escasísima.

Al dar el primer paso, sentí lo que se llama vulgarmente un cale, estoes, me metieron con un fuerte golpe el sombrero de copa hasta lasnarices. El miedo me paralizó, y me dejé caer contra la pared. Creíescuchar risas, y un poco repuesto del susto, me saqué el sombrero.

—¿Quién va?—dije dando á mi voz acento formidable y amenazador.

Nadie respondió. Pasaron por mi imaginación rápidamente variossupuestos.

¿Tratarían{2-3} de robarme? ¿Querrían algunos pilluelosdivertirse á mi costa? ¿Sería un amigo bromista? Tomé la resolución desalir inmediatamente, porque la puerta estaba

libre. Al llegar al mediodel portal, me dieron un fuerte azote..... con la palma de la mano, y ungrupo de cinco ó seis hombres me tapó al mismo tiempo lapuerta.—

¡Socorro!—grité con voz apagada, retrocediendo de nuevo haciala pared. Los

hombres comenzaron á brincar delante de mí, gesticulandode modo extravagante. Mi

terror había llegado al colmo.

—¿Dónde vas á estas horas, ladrón?—dijo uno de ellos.

—Irá{3-1} á robar á algún muerto. Es el médico—dijo otro.

Entonces cruzó por mi mente la sospecha de{3-2} que estaban borrachos, yrecobrándome, exclamé con fuerza:

—¡Fuera, canalla! Dejadme paso ó mato{3-3} uno.

Al mismo tiempo enarbolé el bastón de hierro que me había regalado unmaestro de

la fábrica de armas y que acostumbraba á llevar por lasnoches.

Los hombres, sin hacer caso, siguieron bailando ante mí y ejecutando losmismos gestos desatinados. Pude observar á la tenue claridad que entrabade la calle, que ponían siempre por delante uno como más fuerte óresuelto, detrás del cual los otros se guarecían.

—¡Fuera!—volví á gritar, haciendo molinete con el bastón.

—¡Ríndete, perro!—me respondieron, sin detenerse en su bailefantástico.

Ya no me cupo duda; estaban ebrios. Por esto y porque en sus manos nobrillaba arma alguna, me tranquilicé relativamente. Bajé el bastón, yprocurando dar á mis palabras acento de autoridad, les dije:

—¡Vaya, vaya; poca guasa! Á ver si me dejáis paso.

—¡Ríndete, perro! ¿Vas á chupar la sangre de los muertos? ¿Vas á cortaralguna pierna? ¡Arrancarle{4-1} una oreja! ¡Sacarle un ojo! ¡Tirarle porlas narices!

Tales fueron las voces que salieron del grupo en contestación á mirequisitoria. Al mismo tiempo avanzaron más hacia mí. Uno de ellos, noel que venía delante, sino otro, extendió el brazo por encima del hombrodel primero y me agarró de las narices

y me dió un fuerte tirón que mehizo lanzar un grito de dolor. Di un salto de través, porque misespaldas tocaban casi á la pared, y logré apartarme un poco de ellos; yalzando el bastón, lo descargué, ciego de cólera, sobre el que veníadelante. Cayó pesadamente al suelo sin decir ¡ay! Los demás huyeron.

Quedé solo y aguardé anhelante{4-2} que el herido se quejase ó semoviese. Nada; ni un gemido, ni el más leve movimiento. Entonces me vinola idea de que pude{4-3}

matarlo. El bastón era realmente pesado, y yohe tenido toda la vida la manía de la gimnasia. Me apresuré, con manotemblorosa, á sacar la caja de cerillas y encendí un


No puedo describirle lo que en aquel instante pasó por mí. Tendido en elsuelo, boca

arriba, yacía un hombre muerto. ¡Muerto, sí! Claramente vipintada la muerte en su rostro pálido. El fósforo me cayó de los dedos,y quedé otra vez en tinieblas. No le vi más que un momento; pero lavisión fué tan intensa, que ni un pormenor se me escapó.

Era corpulento, la barba negra y enmarañada, la nariz grande y aguileña;vestía blusa azul, pantalones de color y alpargatas; en la cabezallevaba boina negra. Parecía un obrero de la fábrica de armas, unarmero, como allí suele decirse.{5-1}