“I say that, because I hate the law. I don’t want to have anything to do with the law. Well, good-by, again, Senor Don Jose. God give you long life to help the poor!”
“Good-by, man, good-by.”
Pepe turned the key in the lock of the door, saying to himself:
“The people of this town appear to be very litigious.”
Will there be dissension?
A little later Pepe made his appearance in the dining-room.
“If you eat a hearty breakfast,” said Dona Perfecta to him, in affectionate accents, “you will have no appetite for dinner. We dine here at one. Perhaps you may not like the customs of the country.”
“I am enchanted with them, aunt.”
“Say, then, which you prefer—to eat a hearty breakfast now, or to take something light, and keep your appetite for dinner.”
“I prefer to take something light now, in order to have the pleasure of dining with you. But not even if I had found anything to eat in Villahorrenda, would I have eaten any thing at this early hour.”
“Of course, I need not tell you that you are to treat us with perfect frankness. You may give your orders here as if you were in your own house.”
“But how like your father you are!” said the senora, regarding the young man, as he ate, with real delight. “I can fancy I am looking now at my dear brother Juan. He sat just as you are sitting and ate as you are eating. In your expression, especially, you are as like as two drops of water.”
Pepe began his frugal breakfast. The words, as well as the manner and the expression, of his aunt and cousin inspired him with so much confidence that he already felt as if he were in his own house.
“Do you know what Rosario was saying to me this morning?” said Dona Perfecta, looking at her nephew. “Well, she was saying that, as a man accustomed to the luxuries and the etiquette of the capital and to foreign ways, you would not be able to put up with the somewhat rustic simplicity and the lack of ceremony of our manner of life; for here every thing is very plain.”
“What a mistake!” responded Pepe, looking at his cousin. “No one abhors more than I do the falseness and the hypocrisy of what is called high society. Believe me, I have long wished to give myself a complete bath in nature, as some one has said; to live far from the turmoil of existence in the solitude and quiet of the country. I long for the tranquillity of a life without strife, without anxieties; neither envying nor envied, as the poet has said. For a long time my studies at first, and my work afterward, prevented me from taking the rest which I need, and which my mind and my body both require; but ever since I entered this house, my dear aunt, my dear cousin, I have felt myself surrounded by the peaceful atmosphere which I have longed for. You must not talk to me, then, of society, either high or low; or of the world, either great or small, for I would willingly exchange them all for this peaceful retreat.”