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chapter 5
 Two weeks later, on a beautiful day in January, a day such as is to be seen only in the north of Africa and the south of Europe, the Chapel-master of the cathedral of Ceuta was enjoying the sunshine on the roof of his two-story house, with the tranquillity of mind proper to one who had played the organ at high mass and had afterward eaten a pound of anchovies, another of meat, and another of bread, and drank the corresponding quantity of Tarifa wine.
 
The worthy musician, who was as fat as a hog and as red as a beet, was slowly digesting his breakfast, while his lethargic gaze slowly wandered over the magnificent panorama of the Mediterranean,—the Straits of Gibraltar, the accursed rock from which they take their name, the neighboring peaks of Anghera and Benzu, and the distant snows of the Lesser Atlas—when he heard hasty steps on the stairs and his wife's silvery voice crying joyfully:
 
"Bonifacio! Bonifacio! A letter from your uncle! And a heavy letter, too!"
 
"Well," answered the Chapel-master, turning around like a geographical sphere or globe on the point on which his rotund personality rested on the seat, "what saint can have put it into my uncle's head to remember me? I have been living for fifteen years in this country usurped from Mohammed, and this is the first time that Abencerrage has written to me, although I have written to him a hundred times. Doubtless he wants me to render him some service."
 
So saying, he opened the epistle, contriving so that the Pepa of the postscript should not be able to read its contents, and the yellow parchment, noisily unfolding itself, greeted their eyes.
 
"What has he sent us?" asked his wife, a native of Cadiz, and a blonde, attractive and fresh-looking, notwithstanding her forty summers.
 
"Don't be inquisitive, Pepita. I will tell you what is in the letter, if I think you ought to know, as soon as I have read it. I have warned you a thousand times to respect my letters."
 
"A proper precaution for a libertine like you! At any rate be quick, and let us see if I may know what that large paper is that your uncle has sent you. It looks like a bank-note from the other world."
 
While his wife was making these and other observations, the musician finished reading the letter, whose contents surprised him so greatly that he rose to his feet without the slightest effort.
 
Dissimulation was so habitual with him, however, that he was able to say, in a natural tone of voice:
 
"What nonsense! The wretched man is no doubt already in his dotage! Would you believe that he sends me this leaf from a Hebrew Bible, in order that I may look for some Jew who will buy it, the foolish creature supposing that he will get a fortune for it. At the same time," he added, to change the conversation, putting the letter and the parchment into his pocket,— "at the same time, he asks me with much interest if we have any children."
 
"He has none himself," cried Pepita quickly. "No doubt he intends to leave us something."
 
"It is more likely the miserly fellow thinks of our leaving him something. But hark, it is striking eleven. It is time for me to go tune the organ for vespers. I must go now. Listen, my treasure; let dinner be ready by one, and don't forget to put a couple of good potatoes into the pot. Have we any children! I am ashamed to tell him we have none. See, Pepa," said the musician, after a moment, having in mind, no doubt, the Arabic document, "if my uncle should make me his heir, or if I should ever grow rich by any other means, I swear that I will take you to the Plaza of San Antonio in Cadiz to live, and I will buy you more jewels than Our Lady of Sorrows of Granada has. So good-bye for a while, my pigeon."
 
And, pinching his wife's dimpled chin, he took his hat and turned his steps—not in the direction of the cathedral, but in that of the poor quarter of the town in which the Moorish citizens of Ceuta for the most part live.


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