Our Friend Manso

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

XXXIX
THERE I WAS, ALONE IN FRONT OF MY SOUP

AND I WATCHED, before my very eyes, the orderly troop of round chick-peas parade in, pointed noses and all. And then a redolent braised meat dish, followed by some Málaga raisins, cakes from somewhere and new-wine pudding from somewhere else. As I reach this point I am unable to conceal a fact which then (and even now) seemed most unusual, phenomenal, and extraordinary. I would very much like, as I relate the fact that I ate, to say something usual and customary in such a case, viz., that I lacked appetite and would have sooner vomited up my heart than eaten a single chick-pea. But my devotion to the truth obliges me to make it clear that I was hungry and ate the same as any other day. Whether because I'd had a small lunch, or for some other reason, the fact is that I did honor to all the dishes set before me. I am well aware that this sets me at odds with the weightiest authors who've written on matters of love, and even with those physiologists who study the parallels between bodily functions and affective phenomena. But be that as it may, I'm telling it just as it happened, and let each one draw the conclusions he may wish. The only thing that betrayed my upheaval was the distracted way I ate and my failure to realize what was going into my mouth. From this I conclude that there's still a lot to be said on the subject of how the mind affects the digestion. Period, paragraph.

After eating I spent some very sad and burdensome hours in my study. I could find no comfort in reading, nor could any author, no matter how great, succeed in charming my soul away from the contemplation of its own misfortune. It held to this contemplation in burning fervor, like a fanatic to the dogma he idolizes. And there was no way to shift my attention. If by some effort of the imagination I was able to distract it for a moment, kidnapping it

-203-

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