“But, nevertheless, the herdsman dressed himself up as a caballero, went down to the city, and, on the fourth day, presented himself at the King’s palace. ‘What do you want?’ said the officers. ’I am Don Pedro without Fear and without Care, come to answer the questions which the King sent to me.’ ‘Well,’ said the King, when he was brought before him, ’let me hear your answers, or I will have you shot this day.’ ‘Your Majesty,’ said the herdsman, ’I think I can do it. If you were to set a million of children to playing among the snow of the Sierra Nevada, they would soon clear it all away; and if you were to dig a ditch as wide and as deep as all Spain, you would make the sea that much smaller,’ ‘But,’ said the King, ’that makes only two questions; there are two more yet,’ ’I think I can answer those, also,’ said the herdsman: ’the moon contains four quarters, and therefore weighs only one arroba; and as for the last question, it is not even a single league to the Land of Heavenly Glory—for, if your Majesty were to die after breakfast, you would get there before you had an appetite for dinner,’ ’Well done! said the King; and he then made him Count, and Marquez, and I don’t know how many other titles. In the meantime, Don Pedro without Fear and without Care had died of his fright; and, as he left no family, the herdsman took possession of all his estates, and, until the day of his death, was called Don Pedro without Fear and without Care.”
I write, sitting by the grated window of this lonely inn, looking out on the meadows of the Guadaljorce. The chain of mountains which rises to the west of Malaga is purpled by the light of the setting sun, and the houses and Castle of Carlama hang on its side, in full view. Further to the right, I see the smoke of Monda, where one of the greatest battles of antiquity was fought—that which overthrew the sons of Pompey, and gave the Roman Empire to Caesar. The mozo of the venta is busy, preparing my kid and rice, and Jose is at his elbow, gently suggesting ingredients which may give the dish a richer flavor. The landscape is softened by the hush of coming evening; a few birds are still twittering among the bushes, and the half-moon grows whiter and clearer in mid-heaven. The people about me are humble, but appear honest and peaceful, and nothing indicates that I am in the wild Serrania de Ronda, the country of robbers, contrabandistas, and assassins.
The Mountains of Ronda.
Orange Valleys—Climbing the Mountains—Jose’s Hospitality—El Burgo—The Gate of the Wind—The Cliff and Cascades of Ronda—The Mountain Region—Traces of the Moors—Haunts of Robbers—A Stormy Ride—The Inn at Gaucin—Bad News—A Boyish Auxiliary—Descent from the Mountains—The Ford of the Guadiaro—Our Fears Relieved—The Cork Woods—Ride from San Roque to Gibraltar—Parting with Jose—Travelling in Spain—Conclusion.
Gibraltar, Thursday, November 25, 1852.