BLTC Press Titles


available for Kindle at Amazon.com


The Worm Ouroboros

E. R. Eddison


The Story of Doctor Dolittle

Hugh Lofting


The Diplomatic Background of the War

Charles Seymour


The Secret Doctrine, Volume II Anthropogenesis

H. P. Blavatsky


Belgravia

by Mary Elizabeth Braddon

Excerpt:

say Pastor M . This gentleman has a college at "Santa

Maria" for the training of Spanish boys for the ministry. I know so well what such a life as this in Spain means. I could but look with admiration upon the gentle sympathetic lady, his wife, knowing that her husband's avocation and her active help will shut her out from all refined Spanish society. Malaga has a fine cathedral, which we duly visited ; then the weather clearing up somewhat, we drove with the Consul to visit the grounds respectively those of the Marquis of "Casa Loring" and "San Jose," both gardens very beautifully planted with tropical plants and shrubs. Malaga, in its environs, reminded us greatly of the "Island of Sardinia," the southern part of the island, its random growth of prickly pears, etc. The rain prevented our visiting the beautiful English Cemetery ; we had an outside glimpse only in driving past. We went one night to the principal theatre with the Consul and his wife. The company was good, "Zaryuela," the building pretty, in the style of the theatre of Corunna, but here, as elsewhere in Spain, the incessant smoking in the corridors, added to the heavy, rainy atmosphere (one of the proverbial twenty-nine days' rain ?) and bad ventilation, spoiled a complete enjoyment. Malaga has a large and beautiful hotel, "Hotel Roma," where one meets with every possible comfort. The hotel boasts also of a "lift." And now we are en route for Granada. The first part of the journey struck me as most uninteresting. Then, as we approached the mountains, the scenery changed to the grand. At Bobadilla we rested twenty minutes. Here I was amused by seeing a party of Americans, six in number, scrambling for seats, and immediately told them of room in our carriage. A bright, cheery set of people they proved, a sprinkling of youths and maidens, with the exception of one of the number—their first experience of Spain added to the originality of their remarks. We—that is all the English as well as American travellers—had decided upon the "Washington Irving" hotel, situated close to the Alhambra itself, thus standing at a great elevation. We arrived late at night, in a heavy storm of rain. The climb seemed interminable, the poor horses panting for breath. Some of us felt timid, for the drive, leading through the thick woods of the Alhambra grounds, badly lighted, the roads in a fearful state

warranted fears. How glad we were to see the lights from the hotel and to hear a cheery welcome, then to sit down to a prettilylaid, well-spread supper! The next morning the sun broke out in splendour. We engaged a clever, experienced guide, not wishing to lose time, and quickly started on our tour of inspection of the Alhambra. Now so much has been written of the Alhambra that I will not tease with a further description. In seeing the Alhambra with an intelligent chatty guide, equal in this respect to Washington Irving's "Mateo Ximenes," seemed to me the fulfilling of one of one's life-dreams. As a child, "Tales of the Alhambra," Moorish romances, etc., filled my imagination, and I yearned to tread the ground, breathe the same air, and live in the memories. And now this was realized. I begged not to join a party, but to be alone with my husband and guide, and to spend several mornings thinking and talking in the Alhambra precincts. And so we did. How one is reminded while seeing these mementoes of a past grandeur, "Thus far shalt thou go and no farther!" Moorish greatness was to cease, and now one sighs over the changeableness of things! We remained four days in Granada, as I said, spending each morning in the Alhambra; in the afternoons visiting the city itself, its cathedral, churches, curiosities, not the least those of the Vice-Consul, who, having quite the taste of an antiquarian, has collected a museum of positive value. Speaking of the cathedral, I mentioned to our guide my intense love of sacred music. "Ah !" he said, " we will visit the tombs of the Catholic Sovereigns at the time of the Virgin's Fete." So we went. The singing began just as we were finishing our inspection of the cathedral, and fascinated as I was with the tombs of "Ferdinand and Isabella," I longed to be quiet and listen. This especial evening, Sunday, there was a choir procession, one hundred-and-twenty men and boys, lid by a band of musicians, adding greatly to the sweetness of sound. A rich - toned organ rolled out from time to time. Boys, quite children, first chanted the refrain, then the men and older boys joined in, making a musical harmony of fuller tenor and bass; it was very beautiful. The last refrain commenced with " Dios Guardanos," "God guard us." We used to compare notes at the table d'hote each evening with our various travelling companions, "What have you seen, and you?" and we often felt we saw more than the generality. Our guide loved to show us about. He even got us the entrfo to a private house built in the Moorish style; a marvellously correct imitation, the refined and slender columns, tesselated pavement and fountain. Of course, we drove slowly past the house where the ex-Empress Eugenie was born ; a tablet was let into the wall noting the fact. In one of our afternoon drives we visited the Archbishop's Summer Palace at "Zubia," a village in the plains about three miles from Granada. Its chief interest is that Isabella, during the siege of Granada, rode out here to have a view of the Alhambra. A Moorish sally was made, and Isabella was in much danger. A party of her own guard happily rode up in time; but local traditions tell us that above and beyond the earthly protection, the Virgin appeared. Isabella in gratitude erected a hermitage to the Virgin, which still exists. An old woman who showed us round broke off a branch of a splendid laurel which grows in luxuriance over this hermitage, and gave it me, which I keep as a memento. While speaking of Granada, I must not fo get to mention our visit to the gipsies. A party of these, the captain of the band and five girls, were collected in the house of one of the guides, and gave us a dancing and musical entertainment. The captain played the cithern, the guide, in whose house we met, the guitar, both excellent musicians. Nay, I must add, the Captain played both instruments, giving us solos upon each one. Well, the dancing at the commencement was nothing more than the Spanish "j'ota," four taking part, well and gracefully performed, with the castanets and musical accompaniment, added to this the clapping of hands keeping time. Then began a socalled polka, a hideous thing! Certainly, we ladies (for we had formed a party from the hotel) were appealed to for permission, and in our ignorance said we would like to see one, a wish quickly gratified. This polka consisted of bodily contortions, the girls singing impromptu verses. We had some difficulty in leaving the house, the girls waylaying the gentlemen (of our party) for money. We had already paid a peseta a head, and were mulcted a duro each one at the hotel! These gipsies are a degraded, grasping set. Their king earns his livelihood by dressing in his full " toggery" (a very "taking one " by-the-bye), and strolling about in front of the hotels at the Alhambra and principal parts selling his "photo," for which he asks two pesetas, but generally—as in our case—gets one. These gipsies literally inhabit " holes and caves in the rocks." From a distance these holes look like rabbit burrows! I think I never saw a more beautiful panorama than the one from the Alhambra walls on all sides, and as the sun was shining gloriously the morning we revelled in the sight, and not a cloud to be seen, the impression of delight is an indelible one. The "Sierra Nevada" was more than freshly sprinkled with snow. Generaliffe, with its towers and terraced gardens, hills and plains, all stood out in strong relief. Granada boasts of a fine promenade, where twice weekly in fine weather a military band plays. Here is to be seen the mantilla to perfection, as the French fashion of bonnets, so infinitely less becoming to the Spaniard, are rarely worn. One great pest in Granada is the beggars. They swarm round the hotel doors, notably the "Washington Irving" and "Los Siete Suelos,'' those being more frequented by foreigners, and pounce upon one like harpies. These are by no means picturesque beggars. Oh " no!" poor, miserable, squalid wretches ; but it is impossible to give to all. The small boys (" Chiquillos ") are the worst. They seem to "crop-up" at every imaginable and unimaginable spot, spoiling all harmony of thought by their characteristic whine, and a refusal of charity means a response of wordy abuse. I watched one small boy with interest, his perseverance in following us about was worthier of a nobler purpose. He literally had one eye upon us. Entering a church, that boy was energetically devout in action, beating his breast, rolling his eyes, nay, I must say one eye, as one was always busy upon our movements, ready to be up and moving the moment we did. And now our stay in Granada was drawing to a close.


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