“Don’t be a fool! Why don’t you go in?”
“Now I remember that the armed men are not there; I told them to leave this evening.”
“And this block of marble still doubts what he ought to do! Ramos, go into the garden and don’t be a coward.”
“How can I go in if the door is closed?”
“Get over the wall. What a snail! If I were a man——”
“Well, then, up! There are some broken bricks here where the boys climb over the wall to steal the fruit.”
“Up quickly! I will go and knock at the front door to waken the senora, if she should be asleep.”
The Centaur climbed up, not without difficulty. He sat astride on the wall for an instant, and then disappeared among the dark foliage of the trees. Maria Remedios ran desperately toward the Calle del Condestable, and, seizing the knocker of the front door, knocked—knocked three times with all her heart and soul.
See with what tranquillity Senora Dona Perfecta pursues her occupation of writing. Enter her room, and, notwithstanding the lateness of the hour, you will surprise her busily engaged, her mind divided between meditation and the writing of several long and carefully worded epistles traced with a firm hand, every hair-stroke of every letter in which is correctly formed. The light of the lamp falls full upon her face and bust and hands, its shade leaving the rest of her person and almost the whole of the room in a soft shadow. She seems like a luminous figure evoked by the imagination from amid the vague shadows of fear.
It is strange that we should not have made before this a very important statement, which is that Dona Perfecta was handsome, or rather that she was still handsome, her face preserving the remains of former beauty. The life of the country, her total lack of vanity, her disregard for dress and personal adornment, her hatred of fashion, her contempt for the vanities of the capital, were all causes why her native beauty did not shine or shone very little. The intense shallowness of her complexion, indicating a very bilious constitution, still further impaired her beauty.
Her eyes black and well-opened, her nose finely and delicately shaped, her forehead broad and smooth, she was considered by all who saw her as a finished type of the human figure; but there rested on those features a certain hard and proud expression which excited a feeling of antipathy. As some persons, although ugly, attract; Dona Perfecta repelled. Her glance, even when accompanied by amiable words, placed between herself and those who were strangers to her the impassable distance of a mistrustful respect; but for those of her house—that is to say, for her relations, admirers, and allies—she possessed a singular attraction. She was a mistress in governing, and no one could equal her in the art of adapting her language to the person whom she was addressing.