小说搜索     点击排行榜   最新入库
首页 » 英文短篇小说 » Stories by Foreign Authors: Spanish » chapter 13
选择底色: 选择字号:【大】【中】【小】
chapter 13
 
 
Here, then, we have, face to face and alone, Uncle Juan Gomez and the stranger.
 
"What is your name?" the former asked the latter, with all the imperiousness warranted by his exalted office, and without inviting him to be seated.
 
"My name is Jaime Olot," responded the mysterious stranger.
 
"You do not speak like a native of this country. Are you English?"
 
"I am a Catalan."
 
"Ah, a Catalan! That may be. And what brings you to these parts? And, above all, what the devil were you doing yesterday measuring my tower?"
 
"I will tell you. I am a miner by profession, and I have come to this country, which is famous for its copper and silver mines, in search of work. Yesterday afternoon, passing by the Moor's Tower, I saw that a wall was being built with the stones that had been taken from it, and that it would be necessary to tear down a great deal more of the building in order to finish the wall. There is no one who can equal me in pulling down buildings, whether by the use of tools or with hands only, for I have the strength of an ox, and the idea occurred to me that I might be able to make a contract with the owner of the tower to pull it down and dig up the foundation stones."
 
Uncle Hormiga, with a wink of his little gray eyes, responded, dwelling upon every word:
 
"Well, that arrangement does not suit me."
 
"I would do the work for very little—almost nothing."
 
"Now it would suit me less than before."
 
The so-called Jaime Olot was puzzled not a little by the mysterious answers of Uncle Juan Gomez, and he tried to get some clue to their meaning from the expression of his face; but as he was unsuccessful in his efforts to read the fox-like countenance of his honor, he added, with feigned naturalness:
 
"It would not displease me, either, to repair a part of the old building and to live there, cultivating the ground that you had intended for a cattle-yard. I will buy from you, then, the Moor's Tower with the ground around it."
 
"I do not wish to sell it," responded Uncle Hormiga.
 
"But I will pay you double what it is worth!" said the self-styled Catalan emphatically.
 
"It would suit me now less than ever to sell it," replied the Andalusian, with so crafty and insulting a look that his interlocutor took a step backward, suddenly becoming conscious that he was treading on false ground.
 
He reflected for a moment, therefore, and then raising his head with a determined air, and clasping his hands behind his back, he said, with a cynical laugh:
 
"So, then, you know that there is a TREASURE on that ground!"
 
Uncle Juan Gomez leaned over in his seat, and scanning the Catalan from head to foot, exclaimed with a comical air:
 
"What vexes me is that you, too, should know it!"
 
"And it would vex you much more if I should tell you that I am the only person who knows it with certainty."
 
"That is to say, that you know the precise spot in which the treasure is buried?"
 
"I know the precise spot, and it would not take me twenty-four hours to disinter all the wealth that lies hidden there."
 
"According to that you have in your possession a certain document—"
 
"Yes; I have a document of the time of the Moors, half a yard square, in which all the necessary directions to find the treasure are given."
 
"And tell me—this document—"
 
"I do not carry it about with me, nor is there any reason why I should do so, since I know it word for word by heart, both in Spanish and in Arabic. Oh, I am not such a fool as ever to deliver myself up, bag and baggage, to the enemy! So that before coming to this country I concealed the document—where no one but myself will ever be able to find it."
 
"In that case there is no more to be said. Senor Jaime Olot, let us come to an understanding, like two good friends," exclaimed the Alcalde, at the same time pouring out a glass of brandy for the stranger.
 
"Let us come to an understanding!" repeated the stranger, taking a seat without waiting for further permission, and drinking his brandy with gusto.
 
"Tell me," continued Uncle Hormiga, "and tell me without lying, so that I may learn to put faith in you—"
 
"Ask what you wish; when it does not suit me to speak I shall be silent."
 
"Do you come from Madrid?"
 
"No. It is twenty-five years since I was in the capital, for the first and last time."
 
"Do you come from the Holy Land?"
 
"No; that is not in my line."
 
"Are you acquainted with a lawyer of Ugijar, called Don Matias de
Quesada?"
 
"No; I hate lawyers and all people who live by the pen."
 
"Well, then, how did this document fall into your possession?"
 
Jaime Olcot was silent.
 
"I like that! I see you don't want to lie!" exclaimed the Alcalde. "But there cannot be a doubt that Don Matias de Quesada cheated me as if I were a Chinese, stealing from me two ounces in gold, and then selling that document to some one in Melilla or Ceuta. And the fact is, although you are not a Moor, you look as if you had lived in those countries."
 
"Don't fatigue yourself, or lose your time guessing further. I will set your doubts at rest. This lawyer you speak of must have sent the manuscript to a Spaniard in Ceuta, from whom it was stolen three weeks ago by the Moor from whose possession it passed into mine."
 
"Ah! now I see. He must have sent it to a nephew of his who is a musician in the cathedral of that city—one Bonafacio de Tudela."
 
"It is very likely."
 
"What a wretch that Don Matias is! To cheat his gossip in this way! But see how chance has brought the document back to my hands again!"
 
"To mine, you would say," observed the stranger.
 
"To ours!" returned the Alcalde, again filling the glasses. "Why, then, we are millionaires. We will divide the treasure equally between us, since you cannot dig in that ground without my permission, nor can I find the treasure without the help of the document which has fallen into your possession. That is to say, that chance has made us brothers. From this day forth you shall live in my house—another glass—and the instant we have finished breakfast, we will begin to dig."
 
The conference had reached this point when Dame Torcuata returned from mass. Her husband told her all that had passed, and presented to her Don Jaime Olot. The good woman heard with as much fear as joy the news that the treasure was on the eve of discovery, crossing herself repeatedly on learning of the treachery and baseness of her gossip, Don Matias de Quesada, and she looked with terror at the stranger, whose countenance filled her with a presentiment of coming misfortune.
 
Knowing, however, that she must give this man his breakfast, she went into the pantry to take from it the choicest articles it contained—that is to say, a tenderloin with pickle sauce, and a sausage of the last killing, saying to herself, however, as she uncovered the jars:
 
"Time it is that the treasure should be discovered, for whether it is to be found or not, it has already cost us the thirty-two dollars for the famous cup of chocolate, the long-standing friendship of our gossip, Don Matias, these fine slices of meat, that would have made so rich a dish, dressed with peppers and tomatoes, in the month of August, and the having so forbidding-looking a stranger as a guest. Accursed be treasures, and mines, and the devils, and everything that is underground, excepting only water and the faithful departed!"


欢迎访问英文小说网http://novel.tingroom.com

©英文小说网 2005-2010

有任何问题,请给我们留言,管理员邮箱:tinglishi@gmail.com  站长QQ :点击发送消息和我们联系56065533