Our Friend Manso

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

XXXVIII
OH, YOU TREACHEROUS TRICKSTER!

IT'S YOU, you accursed young buck, you syrupy orator, you damnable fair-haired boy! It's you, you're the one who's stolen my hopes; by treachery you've gotten the slip on me; you've 'been there and back,' while I'm barely learning to walk! I suspected it, but I didn't believe it; now I do believe it, I can feel it and see it and it still seems hard to believe. You've shattered my hopes, blocked my way, you wretched stripling, and I'd like to throttle you; yes, I will throttle you . . . !"

All this, which would seem natural given my state of mind, and perfectly suited to my desolate situation, I should doubtless have said, making use of the opportuneness and the theatrical traditions inherent in that moment. But in fact I didn't say it. When I saw that Manuel's lies were confirmed by his utter perplexity, I treated him with the greatest scorn in the world, and said:

"I don't wish to bother you. Go on alone."

And I went on my way. After a few steps I heard him coming after me, and then his voice:

"Professor, professor . . ."

"What is it you want?"

This was going on in the middle of the Calle de Hortaleza, at the spot where Barquillo merges with it, and we were both nearly struck by an inbound tram.

"What is it?" I repeated after the danger had passed.

"I'm going with you. I have to tell you about . . ."

He took my arm with the same friendly trustfulness of earlier days. I couldn't help exclaiming:

"You hypocrite!"

"Why?" he answered pertly. "We must talk . . . I know where you've been twice today; first, this morning; and then all afternoon.

-197-

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