Our Friend Manso

By Benito Pérez Galdós; Robert Russell | Go to book overview

XXI
THE NEXT DAY . . .

BUT FIRST I WISH to share a confidence. What I'm going to relate puts me in a bad light and may perhaps make me look like a very ordinary man, insensitive to the delicate preferences of our reformist society; but I place my duty as recorder of history above all else, and so if I'm frank on this point I will earn credit for being candid at other places in my narration. Let's have at it. The excellent food and elegant dishes of my brother's table were beginning to make me feel stuffed, and since whole weeks would go by without my being able to avoid eating there, I finally started to miss my habitually humble fare, and my favorite dish, chickpeas, for which in my view there is, as I have said, no possible substitute. My appetite for that legume grew and grew, and became irrepressible. I had become like the habitual smoker who is deprived of tobacco over a long stretch of time. Whenever I went through the Corredera de San Pablo and past the place where we shop, a store called The Food Custom-House, my eyes were drawn to the great sack of chick-peas placed right at the door. Their raw state made them no less delicious-looking to me. Unable any longer to restrain my appetite, I declined one day to eat with Lica, and notified Petra to prepare a regular, proper cocido. I have nothing else to say except that I took barbarous revenge upon the privation I had suffered. And now, on with my story.

The next day I found my brother in the children's schoolroom. He wished to inform himself personally of the children's progress. Jocular with their governess, and affecting toward the pupils a bombastic severity which seemed to me inappropriate, the marquess-to-be made it impossible for me to say to Irene several little things I had thought up. To me she seemed inhibited and almost stunned by the presence, the questions, and the amiability of the master of the house. She couldn't get anything right in the lessons, and the pupils had to correct the teacher. To make things even worse, my brother also deprived me of my afternoon walk, by making me go with him, willy-nilly,

-105-

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