Such was the man, whatever slanderous tongues may say to the contrary, whom Uncle Licurgo introduced into Orbajosa just as the cathedral bells were ringing for high mass. When, looking over the garden wall, they saw the young girl and the Penitentiary, and then the flight of the former toward the house, they put spurs to their beasts and entered the Calle Real, where a great many idlers stood still to gaze at the traveller, as if he were a stranger and an intruder in the patriarchal city. Turning presently to the right and riding in the direction of the cathedral, whose massive bulk dominated the town, they entered the Calle del Condestable, in which, being narrow and paved, the hoofs of the animals clattered noisily, alarming the people of the neighborhood, who came to the windows and to the balconies to satisfy their curiosity. Shutters opened with a grating sound and various faces, almost all feminine, appeared above and below. By the time Pepe Rey had reached the threshold of the house of Polentinos many and diverse comments had been already made on his person.
THE ARRIVAL OF THE COUSIN
When Rosarito left him so abruptly the Penitentiary looked toward the garden wall, and seeing the faces of Licurgo and his companion, said to himself:
“So the prodigy is already here, then.”
He remained thoughtful for some moments, his cloak, grasped with both hands, folded over his abdomen, his eyes fixed on the ground, his gold-rimmed spectacles slipping gently toward the point of his nose, his under-lip moist and projecting, and his iron-gray eyebrows gathered in a slight frown. He was a pious and holy man, of uncommon learning and of irreproachable clerical habits, a little past his sixtieth year, affable in his manners, courteous and kind, and greatly addicted to giving advice and counsel to both men and women. For many years past he had been master of Latin and rhetoric in the Institute, which noble profession had supplied him with a large fund of quotations from Horace and of florid metaphors, which he employed with wit and opportuneness. Nothing more need be said regarding this personage, but that, as soon as he heard the trot of the animals approaching the Calle del Condestable, he arranged the folds of his cloak, straightened his hat, which was not altogether correctly placed upon his venerable head, and, walking toward the house, murmured:
“Let us go and see this paragon.”
Meanwhile Pepe was alighting from his nag, and Dona Perfecta, her face bathed in tears and barely able to utter a few trembling words, the sincere expression of her affection, was receiving him at the gate itself in her loving arms.
“Pepe—but how tall you are! And with a beard. Why, it seems only yesterday that I held you in my lap. And now you are a man, a grown-up man. Well, well! How the years pass! This is my daughter Rosario.”