“It is Malvasian, the first stock the Almogavars brought here from Greece.”
Then he said in order to flatter the boy:
“It was a citizen of Valencia, Ramon Muntaner, who wrote of the expeditions of the Catalans and Aragonese against Constantinople.”
The mere recollection of this novel-like adventure, the most unheard-of in history, used to fill him with enthusiasm, and, in passing, he paid highest tribute to the Almogavar chronicler, a rude Homer in song, Ulysses and Nestor in council, and Achilles in hard action.
Dona Cristina’s impatience to rejoin her husband and to return to the comforts of her well-regulated household finally carried Ulysses away from this life by the coast.
For many years thereafter he saw no other sea than the Gulf of Valencia. The notary, under various pretexts, contrived to prevent the doctor’s again carrying off his nephew; and the Triton made his trips to Valencia less frequently, rebelling against all the inconveniences and dangers of these terrestrial adventures.
And Labarta, when occupied with the future of Ulysses, used to take on a certain air of a good-natured regent charged with the guardianship of a little prince. The boy appeared to belong to them more than to his own father; his studies and his future destiny filled completely their after-dinner conversations when the doctor was in town.
Don Esteban felt a certain satisfaction in annoying his brother by eulogizing the sedentary and prosperous life.
Over there on the coasts of Catalunia lived his brothers-in-law, the Blanes, genuine wolves of the sea. The doctor would not be able to contradict that. Very well, then,—their sons were in Barcelona, some as business clerks, others making a name for themselves in the office of their rich uncle. They were all sailors’ sons and yet they had completely freed themselves from the sea. Their business was entirely on terra firma. Only crazyheads could think of ships and adventures.
The Triton used to smile humbly before such pointed allusions, and exchange glances with his nephew.
A secret existed between the two. Ulysses, who was finishing his studies for a bachelor’s degree, was at the same time taking the courses of pilotage at the institute. Two years would be sufficient for the completion of these latter studies. The uncle had provided the matriculation fees and the books, besides recommending the boy to a former sailor comrade.
When Don Esteban died very suddenly, his eighteen-year-old son was still studying in the university.
In his latter days the notary had begun to suspect that Ulysses was not going to be the celebrated jurist that he had dreamed. He had a way of cutting classes in order to pass the morning in the harbor, exercising with the oars. If he entered the university, the beadles were on their guard fearing his long-reaching hands: for he already fancied himself a sailor and liked to imitate the men of the sea who, accustomed to contend with the elements, considered a quarrel with a man as a very slight affair. Alternating violently between study and laziness, he was laboriously approaching the end of his course when neuralgia of the heart carried off the notary.