The Actress in High Life eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 297 pages of information about The Actress in High Life.
of a good talker and a good listener; was communicative to the major; yet more attentive to his lordship; and most careful, above all things, to turn the conversation to topics interesting to Lady Mabel, who, while listening, asking questions, and offering an occasional remark, was fast coming to the conclusion that L’Isle, young as he was, was by far the best informed and most considerate man in the brigade.  She more particularly wondered how, while tied down to his military duties, he had found time to master the languages, history, topography, and even the antiquities of the peninsula.  He knew personally many a Spaniard and Portuguese who had made himself conspicuous for good or ill, at this fearful crisis of his country’s history.  He thoroughly understood the people, with all their virtues and their vices, that perhaps outweigh those virtues; yet he seemed by no means to despise them.  Amidst the too common baseness and corruption, he could paint vividly their nobler traits, and illustrate them by many a pointed anecdote and thrilling narrative.  Lady Mabel could not help thinking what a delightful companion he would be on a tour through these countries, if she found so much pleasure in merely listening to his account of what he had seen and witnessed there.

“Traveling is my passion,” said Lady Mabel.  “From childhood I have longed to see foreign lands, and to find myself surrounded by outlandish people.  I suppose it is owing to my having been kept close at home, yet encouraged to follow the footsteps of travelers over page after page of their rambles.  My journey hither, through the wilderness of Alemtejo, has but whetted my appetite.  And there is something peculiarly fascinating in the idea of traveling in Spain, the land of adventure and romance.”

“Just now is no good time for such a journey,” said L’Isle; “there are too many French and other robbers besetting the roads.”

“There would be too little of romance and too much of adventure in meeting with them,” said she.  “It is most provoking to be thus tantalized; the cup at my lips, and I cannot taste of it; Spain in sight, and I cannot explore it.  I am eager to visit the Alhambra and Escurial, and other show-places, and take a long ramble in the Sierra Morena.  I would wish to engage the most skillful arriero in all Spain, and, mounted on his best mule, roam all over the country, through every mountain-pass, and across every desolate plain, and make a pilgrimage to every spot hallowed by poetic or historic fame.  I would search out, as a shrine of chivalry, each field on which the Cid displayed the gleaming blade of Tizona, and on which the hoofs of his Babieca trampled on the Moor.  I wonder if my guide could not show me, too, the foundation-stones of the manor-house of the good knight of La Mancha, the site at least of the bower of Dulcinea del Toboso, and Gil Blas’ robbers’ cave?”

“Just at this time,” said L’Isle, “the cave of Captain Rolando and his comrades, being in the north of Leon, is particularly inaccessible, for there are some ninety thousand similar gentry wintering between us and it.”

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The Actress in High Life from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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