The Guadaira winds its stream round the hill, at the foot of these ruins, whimpering among reeds, rushes, and pond-lilies, and overhung with rhododendron, eglantine, yellow myrtle, and a profusion of wild flowers and aromatic shrubs; while along its banks are groves of oranges, citrons, and pomegranates, among which we heard the early note of the nightingale. A picturesque bridge was thrown across the little river, at one end of which was the ancient Moorish mill of the castle, defended by a tower of yellow stone; a fisherman's net hung against the wall to dry, and hard by in the river was his boat; a group of peasant women in bright-coloured dresses, crossing the arched bridge, were reflected in the placid stream.
Altogether it was an admirable scene for a landscape-painter. The old Moorish mills, so often found on secluded streams, are characteristic objects in Spanish landscape, and suggestive of the perilous times of old. They are of stone, and often in the form of towers with loopholes and battlements, capable of defence in those warlike days when the country on both sides of the border was subject to sudden inroad and hasty ravage, and when men had to labour with their weapons at hand, and some place of temporary refuge.
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These castles were strongholds to protect the plains from the talas or forays to which they were subject, when the fields of corn would be laid waste, the flocks and herds swept from the vast pastures, and, together with captive peasantry, hurried off in long cavalgadas across the borders. At Gandul we found a tolerable posada ; the good folks could not tell us what time of day it was, the clock only struck once in the day, two hours after noon; until that time it was guess-work.
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We guessed it was full time to eat; so, alighting, we ordered a repast. While that was in preparation, we visited the palace once the residence of the Marquis of Gandul. All was gone to decay; there were but two or three rooms habitable, and very poorly furnished. Yet here were the remains of grandeur: a terrace, where fair dames and gentle cavaliers may once have walked; a fish-pond and ruined garden, with grape-vines and date-bearing palm-trees. Here we were joined by a fat curate, who gathered a bouquet of roses, and presented it, very gallantly, to the lady who accompanied us.
Below the palace was the mill, with orange-trees and aloes in front, and a pretty stream of pure water. We took a seat in the shade; and the millers, all leaving their work, sat down and smoked with us; for the Andalusians are always ready for a gossip. They were waiting for the regular visit of the barber, who came once a week to put all their chins in order.
He 19 arrived shortly afterwards: a lad of seventeen, mounted on a donkey, eager to display his new alforjas or saddle-bags, just bought at a fair; price one dollar, to be paid on St. John's day in June , by which time he trusted to have mown beards enough to put him in funds. By the time the laconic clock of the castle had struck two we had finished our dinner. It was one of those vast plains, common in Spain, where for miles and miles there is neither house nor tree. Unlucky the traveller who has to traverse it, exposed as we were to heavy and repeated showers of rain.
There is no escape nor shelter. Our only protection was our Spanish cloaks, which nearly covered man and horse, but grew heavier every mile. By the time we had lived through one shower we would see another slowly but inevitably approaching; fortunately in the interval there would be an outbreak of bright, warm, Andalusian sunshine, which would make our cloaks send up wreaths of steam, but which partially dried them before the next drenching. Shortly after sunset we arrived at Arahal, a little town among the hills.
We found it in a bustle with a party of miquelets , who were patrolling the country to ferret out robbers. The appearance of foreigners like ourselves was an unusual circumstance in an interior country town; and little Spanish towns of the kind are easily put in a state of gossip and wonderment by such an occurrence. Mine host, with two or three old wise-acre comrades in brown cloaks, studied our passports in a corner of the posada , while an Alguazil took notes by the dim light of a lamp. The passports were in foreign languages and perplexed them, but our Squire Sancho assisted them in their studies, and magnified our importance with the grandiloquence of a Spaniard.
In the meantime the magnificent distribution of a few cigars had won the hearts of all around us; in a little while the whole community seemed put in agitation to make us 20 welcome. The Corregidor himself waited upon us, and a great rush-bottomed arm-chair was ostentatiously bolstered into our room by our landlady, for the accommodation of that important personage. The commander of the patrol took supper with us: a lively, talking, laughing Andaluz , who had made a campaign in South America, and recounted his exploits in love and war with much pomp of phrase, vehemence of gesticulation, and mysterious rolling of the eye.
He told us that he had a list of all the robbers in the country, and meant to ferret out every mother's son of them; he offered us at the same time some of his soldiers as an escort. While we were supping with our drawcansir friend, we heard the notes of a guitar, and the click of castanets, and presently a chorus of voices singing a popular air. In fact, mine host had gathered together the amateur singers and musicians, and the rustic belles of the neighbourhood, and, on going forth, the court-yard or patio of the inn presented a scene of true Spanish festivity.
We took our seats with mine host and hostess and the commander of the patrol, under an archway opening into the court; the guitar passed from hand to hand, but a jovial shoemaker was the Orpheus of the place. He was a pleasant-looking fellow, with huge black whiskers; his sleeves were rolled up to his elbows. He touched the guitar with masterly 21 skill, and sang a little amorous ditty with an expressive leer at the women, with whom he was evidently a favourite.
He afterwards danced a fandango with a buxom Andalusian damsel, to the great delight of the spectators. But none of the females present could compare with mine host's pretty daughter, Pepita, who had slipped away and made her toilette for the occasion and had covered her head with roses; and who distinguished herself in a bolero with a handsome young dragoon. We ordered our host to let wine and refreshment circulate freely among the company, yet, though there was a motley assembly of soldiers, muleteers, and villagers, no one exceeded the bounds of sober enjoyment.
The scene was a study for a painter: the picturesque group of dancers, the troopers in their half military dresses, the peasantry wrapped in their brown cloaks; nor must I omit to mention the old meagre Alguazil , in a short black cloak, who took no notice of anything going on, but sat in a corner diligently writing by the dim light of a huge copper lamp, that might have figured in the days of Don Quixote. The following morning was bright and balmy, as a May morning ought to be, according to the poets.
Leaving Arahal at seven o'clock, with all the posada at the door to cheer us off, we pursued our way through a fertile country, covered with grain and beautifully verdant; but which in summer, when the harvest is over and the fields parched and brown, must be monotonous and lonely; for, as in our ride of yesterday, there were neither houses nor people to be seen.
The latter all congregate in villages and strongholds among the hills, as if these fertile plains were still subject to the ravages of the Moor. At noon we came to where there was a group of trees, beside a brook in a rich meadow. Here we alighted to make our mid-day meal. It was really a luxurious spot, among wild flowers and aromatic herbs, with birds singing around us. Though the alforjas and the bota were frequently and vigorously assailed throughout the journey, they had a wonderful power of repletion, our vigilant squire sacking everything that remained from our repasts at the inns to supplying these junketings by the road-side, which were his delight.
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On the present occasion he spread quite a sumptuous variety of remnants on the greensward before us, graced with an excellent ham brought from Seville; then, taking his seat at a little distance, he solaced himself with what remained in the alforjas. A visit or two to the bota made him as merry and chirruping as a grasshopper filled with dew.
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On my comparing his contents of the alforjas to Sancho's skimming of the flesh-pots at the wedding of Camacho, I found he was well versed in the history of Don Quixote, 23 but, like many of the common people of Spain, firmly believed it to be a true history. The squire was satisfied.
Nothing pleased the simple-hearted valet more than my comparing him to the renowned Sancho for devotion to the trencher; and he called himself by no other name throughout the journey. Our repast being finished, we spread our cloaks on the greensward under the tree, and took a luxurious siesta , in the Spanish fashion.
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The clouding up of the weather, however, warned us to depart, and a harsh wind sprang up from the southeast. Towards five o'clock we arrived at Osuna, a town of fifteen thousand inhabitants, situated on the side of a hill, with a church and a ruined castle. The posada was outside of the walls; it had a cheerless look. The evening being cold, the inhabitants were crowded round a brasero in a chimney-corner; and the hostess was a dry old woman, who looked like a mummy. Every one eyed us askance as we entered, as Spaniards are apt to regard strangers; a cheery, respectful salutation on our part, caballeroing them and touching our sombreros, set Spanish pride at ease; and when we took our seat among them, lit our cigars, and passed the cigar-box round among them, our victory was complete.
WASHINGTON IRVING: ALHAMBRA, TALES & SKETCHES MOORS & SPANIARDS/SPAIN/1832 1st
I have never known a Spaniard, whatever his rank or condition, who would suffer himself to be outdone in courtesy; and to the common 24 Spaniard the present of a cigar puro is irresistible. Care, however, must be taken never to offer him a present with an air of superiority and condescension: he is too much of a caballero to receive favours at the cost of his dignity.
Leaving Osuna at an early hour the next morning, we entered the sierra or range of mountains. The road wound through picturesque scenery, but lonely; and a cross here and there by the roadside, the sign of a murder, showed that we were now coming among the "robber haunts. It was here that Omar Ibn Hassan, a robber-chief among the Moslems, held ruthless sway in the ninth century, disputing dominion even with the califs of Cordova.
This too was a part of the regions so often ravaged during the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella by Ali Atar, the old Moorish alcayde of Loxa, father-in-law of Boabdil so that it was called Ali Atar's garden, and here "Jose Maria," famous in Spanish brigand story, had his favourite lurking-places. In the course of the day we passed through Fuente la Piedra , near a little salt lake of the same name, a beautiful sheet of 25 water, reflecting like a mirror the distant mountains.
We now came in sight of Antiquera, that old city of warlike reputation, lying in the lap of the great sierra which runs through Andalusia. A noble vega spread out before it, a picture of mild fertility set in a frame of rocky mountains. Crossing a gentle river we approached the city between hedges and gardens, in which nightingales were pouring forth their evening song.
About nightfall we arrived at the gates.
Everything in this venerable city has a decidedly Spanish stamp. It lies too much out of the frequented track of foreign travel to have its old usages trampled out.
Here I observed old men still wearing the montero , or ancient hunting-cap, once common throughout Spain; while the young men wore the little round-crowned hat, with brim turned up all round, like a cup turned down in its saucer; while the brim was set off with little black tufts like cockades. The women, too, were all in mantillas and basquinas. The fashions of Paris had not reached Antiquera. Pursuing our course through a spacious street, we put up at the posada of San Fernando.
As Antiquera, though a considerable city, is, as I observed, somewhat out of the track of travel, I had anticipated bad quarters and poor fare at the inn. I was agreeably disappointed, therefore, by a supper-table amply supplied, and what were still more acceptable, good clean rooms and comfortable beds. Our man Sancho felt himself as well off as his namesake when he had the run 26 of the duke's kitchen, and let me know, as I retired for the night, that it had been a proud time for the alforjas.
Early in the morning May 4th I strolled to the ruins of the old Moorish castle, which itself had been reared on the ruins of a Roman fortress.