Our Friend Manso

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

XLI
THE RASCAL SAT DOWN WITH HER BACK TO THE LIGHT

SHE HAD HALF-CLOSED the inner wooden blinds to soften the clear brilliance of daylight and by so doing had left her face in the shadows. This whole procedure was a good demonstration of her skill in the arts of dissimulation.

"Well let's see: when did you see Manuel Peña for the first time?"

Her head was bent over her sewing so that I couldn't get a good view of her as she answered me in the humble voice of a schoolgirl: "One night, when he came into the dining room with you to get a cool drink. . ."

"Did you speak with him during those days?"

"No, sir, one afternoon . . . I was coming in from my walk with the little girls, and he was on his way out, going down the stairs . . . I don't know how, I tripped and fell."

"One afternoon . . . Where was I that afternoon?"

"You'd stayed down at the street entrance talking with a professor friend of yours."

"And give or take a few days, when did this happen?"

"Before Christmas . . . Then I saw him again when I was going out with Ruperto. He followed me, and insisted on conversing with me. He said a lot of foolish things. I was so flustered, I didn't know what to do . . . The next day . . ."

"He wrote you a letter, doubtless a long one. He sent it to you with the mulatto girl. These mixed races are awful! At midnight, shut up in your room, you read the letter."

"That's true," she said without raising her eyes from her sewing. "How did you find out?"

"And on other nights as well you spent long hours reading Manuel's letters and answering them. You'd go to bed very late."

-212-

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