Project Gutenberg's Stories by Foreign Authors: Spanish, by Various
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Title: Stories by Foreign Authors: Spanish
Release Date: February, 2006 [EBook #9987]
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*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK SPANISH STORIES ***
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STORIES BY FOREIGN AUTHORS
THE TALL WOMAN .. .. .. .. .. .. by Pedro Antonio De Alarcon
THE WHITE BUTTERFLY. .. .. .. .. by Jose Selgas
THE ORGANIST.. .. .. .. .. .. .. by Gustavo Adolfo Becquer
MOORS AND CHRISTIANS .. .. .. .. by Pedro Antonio De Alarcon
BREAD CAST UPON THE WATERS .. .. by Fernan Caballero
THE TALL WOMAN
by Pedro Antonio De Alarcon
From "Modern Ghosts" translated by Rollo Ogden.
THE TALL WOMAN
"How little we really know, my friends; how little we really know."
The speaker was Gabriel, a distinguished civil engineer of the mountain
corps. He was seated under a pine tree, near a spring, on the crest of the
Guadarrama. It was only about a league and a half distant from the palace
of the Escurial, on the boundary line of the provinces of Madrid and
Segovia. I know the place, spring, pine tree and all, but I have forgotten
"Let us sit down," went on Gabriel, "as that is the correct thing to do,
and as our programme calls for a rest here--here in this pleasant and
classic spot, famous for the digestive properties of that spring, and for
the many lambs here devoured by our noted teachers, Don Miguel Bosch, Don
Maximo Laguna, Don Augustin Pascual, and other illustrious naturalists.
Sit down, and I will tell you a strange and wonderful story in proof of my
thesis, which is, though you call me an obscurantist for it, that
supernatural events still occur on this terraqueous globe. I mean events
which you cannot get into terms of reason, or science, or philosophy--as
those 'words, words, words,' in Hamlet's phrase, are understood (or are
not understood) to-day."
Gabriel was addressing his animated remarks to five persons of different
ages. None of them was young, though only one was well along in years.
Three of them were, like Gabriel, engineers, the fourth was a painter, and
the fifth was a litterateur in a small way. In company with the speaker,
who was the youngest, we had all ridden up on hired mules from the Real
Sitio de San Lorenzo to spend the day botanizing among the beautiful pine
groves of Pequerinos, chasing butterflies with gauze nets, catching rare
beetles under the bark of the decayed pines, and eating a cold lunch out
of a hamper which we had paid for on shares.
This took place in 1875. It was the height of the summer. I do not
remember whether it was Saint James's day or Saint Louis's; I am inclined
to think it was Saint Louis's. Whichever it was, we enjoyed a delicious
coolness at that height, and the heart and brain, as well as the stomach,
were there in much better working order than usual.
When the six friends were seated, Gabriel continued as follows:
"I do not think you will accuse me of being a visionary. Luckily or
unluckily, I am, if you will allow me to say so, a man of the modern
world. I have no superstition about me, and am as much of a Positivist as
the best of them, although I include among the positive data of nature all
the mysterious faculties and feelings of the soul. Well, then, apropos of
supernatural, or extra-natural, phenomena, listen to what I have seen and
heard, although I was not the real hero of the very strange story I am
going to relate, and then tell me what explanation of an earthly,
physical, or natural sort, however you may name it, can be given of so
wonderful an occurrence.
"The case was as follows. But wait! Pour me out a drop, for the
skin-bottle must have got cooled off by this time in that bubbling,
crystalline spring, located by Providence on this piny crest for the
express purpose of cooling a botanist's wine."