Rosarito- translation from Spanish (Ramon del Valle Inclan)

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A translation by me from the Spanish of a short story by Ramon del Valle Inclan written in the 1930's. Spanish life and customs thru the eyes of a small girl of the nobility during the Spanish Civil War.

Submitted: June 21, 2008

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Submitted: June 21, 2008

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Chapter I
 
Seated before one of those archaic lamps with a table for checkers, that were so much in fashion at the beginning of the century, is dozing the old Countess of Cela. The silvery gray hairs in her head, that escaped from the lace coif, touched intermittently the playing cards lined up to play a solitaire. On the other side of the couch, was her granddaughter Rosarito. Even though the ladies came in very pious, the truth is that none of them paid any attention to the saint’s life of that day that the house chaplain read aloud, bent over the lamp, and with the glasses had a strong silver frame. Suddenly, Rosarito lifted her head, and she was like absent-minded, with the eyes fixed on the garden’s gate that opens on the dark and mysterious bushes. Not more mysterious, in truth, than the look of that pensive white child! Seen at the tenuous light of the lamp, with the blonde head in divine absorption, the shadow of the eyelashes trembling in the ivory of her cheeks, and the delicate and gentle bust detaching itself in the uncertain darkness over the silvery waistline, and in the couch’s light damask blue, Rosarito reminded one of those innocent Madonna’s painted over a background of stars and comets.
Chapter II
The child half closed her eyes, turned pale, and her agitated lips with an strange trembling let a yell escape:
“Jesus…! I am afraid!”
The cleric interrupted his reading, and looking at her over his glasses, says:
“Some spider, miss?”
Rosarito moves her head:
“No, sir, no!”
Rosarito was very pale. Her voice, a little afraid, had that delatating insecurity of fright and sadness. In vain to seem serene, she tried to continue the labor that rested in her lap. It was trembling too much between those pale hands, transparent like those of a saint; mystic and ardent hands, that looked thinner at prayer, by the gentle touch of the rosary. Profoundly aloof she inserted the needles in the couch’s arm. Later with a low and intimate voice, as if she were talking to herself, she prattled:
“Jesus!… What an strange thing!”
At the same time, she turned her eyelids, and crossed her hands over her bust of candid and glorious lines. She looked like she was dreaming. The chaplain looked at her with strangeness:
“What is the matter with you, miss Rosario?”
The child almost opens her eyes and gave a sigh:
“What did you say, Don Benicio, is it a sign from the other world?”
“A sign from the other world! What are you trying to say?”
Before answering, Rosarito directed another look at the mysterious garden, asleep through its branches filtered by the white line of the moon; later with weak and trembling voice murmured:
“A moment ago I sworn I saw Don Miguel Montenegro coming through the gate…”
“Don Miguel, miss? Are you sure?”
“Yes, it was him, and he said hello smiling…”
“But you remember Don Miguel Montenegro? He is been out of the country for at least ten years.”
“I remember, Don Benicio, as if I saw him yesterday. I was very little, and I went with my grandfather to visit him at Santiago’s prison, where they put him for being a liberal. The grandfather called him cousin. Don Miguel was very tall, with the mustache very twisted, and his hair white and curly.”
The chaplain nodded:
“That’s right, right. At thirty his head was more white than mine is now. Without doubt, you probably heard the story…”
Rosarito put her hands together:
“Oh! How many times! The grand-father always recounted it.”
He interrupted himself when he saw the Countess straightening up. The old woman looked at her granddaughter with severity, and badly awaken murmured:
“How do you find so much to talk about, child? Let Don Benicio read.”
Rosarito bent her head and she started to move her needles doing her work. But Don Benicio, who was in no mood to continue reading, closed his book and lowered his glasses to the tip of his nose.
“We were talking about the famous Don Miguel, Mrs. Countess. Don Miguel Montenegro, relative of, and if I am not mistaken, with the illustrious house of the Countess of Cela…”
The old woman interrupted him:
“What in the world made you start such a conversation? You also have news about the heretic of my cousin? I know he is in the country, and that he conspires. Cela’s chaplain, knew him well in Portugal, saw him at the Barbazon’s fair, disguised as a horse dealer.”
Don Benicio took off his glasses right away:
“Now there is some news and very amazing. But it is not Cela’s chaplain mistaken?”
The Countess shrugged her shoulders:
“What! Do you doubt it? I don’t. I know my cousin very well.”
“The years break your eyes, Mrs. Countess. I spent four years in the mountains of Navarre, with the rifle on my shoulder, and today, while others fight, I have to feel happy to ask God at Mass for the victory of the Holy Cause.”
A disdainful smile showed in the toothless mouth of the noblewoman:
“But do you want to compare yourself, Don Benicio? Truly that in the case of my cousin, anybody else would have thought it carefully before crossing the border; but that branch of the Montenegro’s is crazy. Crazy was my uncle Don Jose, crazy was his son and crazy will be his grandchildren. You have heard talk a thousand times in the priest’s house about Don Miguel; but all you have heard is nothing compared to what the man did.”
The cleric repeated in a low voice:
“I know, I know. I have heard much. Is a terrible man, a liberal, a Mason!”
The Countess lifted her eyes to heaven, and sighed:
“Will he come to our house? What do you think?”
“Who knows? He knows the Countess’ good heart.”
The chaplain took out of his chest a big handkerchief with blue squares, and shook it in the air very slowly. Later he cleaned his baldness:
“It would be a terrible thing! If the Mrs. would listen to my advice, she would close her door to him.”
Rosarito sighted. Her grandmother looked at her severely and she started drumming with her fingers on the couch:
“You can say that fast, Don Benicio. It looks like you don’t know him. I would close the door and he would break it down. Also, I should never forget that he is my cousin.”
Rosarito lifted her head. In her child’s mouth the pale smile of a sad heart was trembling, and at the mysterious bottom of her pupils a broken tear shined. Suddenly she yelled. Standing outside of the garden’s gate was a man of gray hair, medium stature, still arrogant and erect.
 
 
Chapter III
 
Don Miguel Montenegro was about sixty years old. He had that manly and good looking Swabian figure so frequently found in the Galician hills. He was a Major from an old noble family, of which his coat of arms showed sixteen quarterings of nobility and a royal crown at the center. Don Miguel to the big scandal of his relatives and debtors, after he returned from his first emigration he took out the weapons at his house’s door, and old an ruinous big house, built by Marshal Montenegro, who fought in the wars of Philip V and who was the most notable of the two military men in their ancestry. They still remembered in the country that eccentric, despot hunter, drunk and hospitable lord. Don Miguel at thirty had wasted his inheritance. He only kept the tenants’ rent and the entailed estate, the big house and the chapel, all of which was barely enough to eat. So he started his life of an adventurer and conspirator, a life so full of risks and hazards as the second son’s duels and fortune. A liberal with a tendency towards Freemasonry, he feigned great disdain for the nobility, which did not stop him from being haughty and cruel like an Arab noble. Inside he was proud of his title, in spite of his Dantonian indifference, it pleased him to recount the heraldic legend that says that Montenegros descended from a German empress. He believed to be himself a relative of the noblest families of Galicia, and from the one of Cela to the one of Altamira, with all of them he equaled himself and he called all of them cousins, like rings call each other. On the other hand, he disdained his noble neighbors and made fun of them by seating them at his table with his servants. It was something to see Don Miguel rise to his full height, with a full glass, yelling with that high voice of big nobleman that amazed his guests:
“In my house, we are all equal. Here we use the doctrine and the Law of the Judean philosopher (Jesus Christ).”
Don Miguel was one of those inspired crazies, with the etiquette of a nobleman, genius of a poet and pirate. He boiled with an anxiety without reason or objective, at once crazy and mocking, happy and also somber. He was attributed extraordinary things. When he returned from his first emigration he found the legend was already made. The old liberals from Riego’s party said that he was in hiding for three days, from which he was able to run away by a daring miracle. But the ladies of his province, today grandmothers that sight when reciting to their granddaughters the verses of ‘Il Trovatore’ (Verdi’s opera), referred something a lot more beautiful… This was happening during the Romantic period, and he was supposedly victim of tragic love affairs. How many times Rosarito had heard at his grandparent’s party the story of those gray hairs! It was always told by her aunt of Camarasa – a single woman of fifty years old, who read novels with the ardor of a schoolgirl, and still sang in the aristocratic church’s choir at Compostela melancholy songs from the 30’s--. Amada of Camarasa met Don Miguel in Lisbon, at the wedding of Prince Don Miguel (son of Portuguese King John VI). She was a child, and she remembered very well the somber figure of that Spanish immigrant of erect shape and proud gesture, that every morning walked around with the poet Espronceda in the cathedral’s attic, and he did not take a step without hitting ferociously the ground with his cane made out of sugarcane from the Indies. Amada of Camarasa could only sight every time she remembered the happy years spent in Lisbon. Maybe she could still see with the eyes of the imagination the figure of some Portuguese nobleman of dark face and loving talk, that was the only passion of her youth! But that’s another story that has nothing to do with that of that Don Miguel de Montenegro.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


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