Project Gutenberg's The Little Spanish Dancer, by Madeline Brandeis

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Title: The Little Spanish Dancer

Author: Madeline Brandeis

Release Date: August 28, 2012 [EBook #40592]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


Produced by Juliet Sutherland, Matthias Grammel and the
Online Distributed Proofreading Team at


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[Pg 2]

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Photographic Illustrations


by arrangement with the A. Flanagan Company

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[Pg 5]
An International Dedication



My "Parisian" Sister, Her "Rumanian" Husband, and the Memory of the "Russian" Ballet Dancing Which She Used To Do in "America" When She Was the Age of Little "Spanish" Pilar!



The photographs in this book were taken in Spain by the author. The character of "The Little Spanish Dancer" is portrayed by Pilar Herrera, of Seville, a charming little girl, whom we wish to thank for helping to decorate this book.

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[Pg 7]


Chapter I  

The Magic Castanets  9
Chapter II  

An Old Red Cape  20
Chapter III  

In Old Cadiz (A Legend of the Castanets)  32
Chapter IV  

The Souvenirs Speak  44
Chapter V  

In Old Granada (A Legend of the Castanets)  61
Chapter VI  

Another Visit to Juan  71
Chapter VII  

Four Old Paintings  77
Chapter VIII  

Fiesta  89
Chapter IX  

The Mystery of the Young Prince  100
Chapter X  

A Stout Sweetheart  115
Chapter XI  

Dance of the Six (A Legend of the Castanets)  123
Chapter XII  

Pilar's Grandfather Remembers  134
Chapter XIII  

Bullfight in Madrid (A Legend of the Castanets)  138
Chapter XIV  

Where Is Pilar?  156
Chapter XV  

A Stranger Arrives  163

Pronouncing Vocabulary 175

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AVILA  103

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[Pg 9]

The Little Spanish Dancer



Pilar was dancing in the Murillo (mū̍-rĭlō) Garden. It was a beautiful public garden named after the great Spanish painter, Murillo, who died in a house near by.

Pilar had been born ten years ago in this old city of Seville (sē̍-vĭl). If you had asked Pilar, "Where is New York?" she would doubtless have laughed with her lovely dark eyes and inquired, "Is it in Seville?" Because, to Pilar, as to most of her friends, there was only one world, and that world was Seville.

Now a terrible thing was happening at Pilar's home this evening. But Pilar did not [Pg 10] know it because she was dancing in the garden. Every night, after her grandfather went to bed, she ran off and danced with her friends to the music of a hurdy-gurdy.

But tonight, after Pilar had left, her grandfather had been taken very ill. The neighbors had sent for a doctor, who shook his head gravely over the poor old man.

Pilar knew nothing about this as she clicked her castanets and whirled about in the dance they call the Sevillana.

She was one of the best dancers in her group. And why not? Her mother had been a dancer; her grandmother, too, yes, and her great-grandmother and her great-great—oh, ever so many great-grandmothers! They had all been dancers.

Pilar's parents had died when she was a baby. She lived alone with her grandfather, and they struggled to keep the wolf named [Pg 11] Hunger from their door. Her grandfather was a shoemaker, but he worked slowly these days because his hands were old.


Once when Pilar was very little, someone had asked her what pleasures she enjoyed most. She had answered, "The pleasures I enjoy most are—dancing!"

Now this could easily be the answer of [Pg 12] every little girl in southern Spain. For while Italy sings, France designs, and Switzerland skates, Spain dances. Why, it is even possible that little girls in Seville would rather dance than go to moving picture shows!

Yet everyone in Seville does not feel that way, for the many open air theaters all over the city are crowded. And what the people seem to like best are the American comedies.

It was growing late, but Pilar seldom went to bed before midnight. She would have told you that evening was the time to live and to laugh and to dance. Then it was cool, while during the day the sun beat down cruelly and people slept for hours.

Through the narrow streets Pilar made her way home at last. She heard little snatches of song from the throats of strollers.

[Pg 13]

Everyone strolls in Seville; there is no hurry. Nearly everyone sings; there is no worry. Hurry and worry are as much out of place in this city as a woman's hat shop. For white flowers and black lace shawls take the place of hats in Seville.

Pilar hummed to herself as she walked along. Some day she would grow up to be a great dancer like her mother and—

What was that? A light in her house? She looked through the window and saw the doctor bending over her grandfather's bed.

Pilar caught her breath. Then she rushed indoors and ran straight to her grandfather's bedside. Sinking down on her knees, she burst into tears.

"Oh, Grandfather!" she cried. "You are ill! Dear Grandfather, what is the matter?"

The doctor smoothed her soft, black hair and raised her to her feet.[Pg 14]


"There, now, my child," he said. "You must not cry. You will only make your grandfather worse. He will get well if you will do what I tell you."

"What—what is that, doctor?" Poor Pilar was trembling.

"You must buy and cook good, nourishing food for him," said the doctor. "And give him the medicines which I order."

Now Pilar's eyes were full of terror. "But, oh, doctor," she cried. "I cannot do that. We have no money."

"No money?" The doctor looked at her pityingly.

"We live by what Grandfather makes when he can work," said Pilar. "Now that [Pg 15] he cannot work, there will be no money."

The doctor said, "Um-m" and stroked his beard. Then he asked, "Have you nothing which you might sell?"

"Only—" And Pilar gazed into her tiny cubbyhole of a room next door. "Only an old wooden chest filled with souvenirs, left to me by my mother." She added in a whisper, "I could not sell them!"

The doctor was silent for a moment. Then he said, "I am afraid you must sell them, Pilar, if you wish your grandfather to live."

When the doctor was gone, Pilar went into her room and looked at the precious wooden chest. In it were the souvenirs which her mother had collected throughout her interesting life as a dancer.

The doctor had given her grandfather medicine, and now he slept. But what would happen in the morning?

Pilar shuddered. She was only a little [Pg 16] girl, and she was afraid. The doctor had said that her grandfather must have the best of everything, or maybe he would die.

A tear splashed down upon the old, carved chest. There was only one thing to do. Tomorrow she would go into town and sell one of her mother's souvenirs so that she might buy medicine and food.

She brushed away the tears and began to look through her treasures. There were a tall, graceful comb; a faded, but elegant fan; a richly decorated old bonnet; oh, such lovely things! How could she ever part with them?

She pulled out a pair of castanets (kăs-tȧ-nĕts). Now, in Spain, it seems that every baby is born with a pair of castanets in its hand. Of course, I only said, "It seems." Yet some of the tiniest tots are taught to click these wooden clappers to the rhythm of the traditional Spanish songs and dances.[Pg 17]

Castanets are shaped very much like chestnuts. They say that this is why they are called castanuellos, which means "chestnuts" in Spanish.


But those which had belonged to Pilar's [Pg 18] mother were no ordinary castanets. Indeed, they were said to possess some wonderful and dangerous power.

Mysterious legends had passed from mother to daughter down through Pilar's family. Each legend told of trouble caused by the loss of these castanets. For whenever they had been lost, given, stolen, or sold, misfortune had come to their owners.

A bit of verse, composed, no doubt, by the first ancestor who had used them, warned thus:

"Castanets, with magic spell,
Never lose or give or sell;
If you do, then grief and strife
Will follow you through all your life."

But Pilar had never heard the old rime. Nor had her grandfather ever told her the strange legends. He did not want to [Pg 19] frighten her. Besides, he realized that modern, educated people would have called such beliefs very foolish.

So Pilar did not know about the power of the magic castanets, and she fell asleep that night with these words going through her head: "Which souvenir shall I sell tomorrow? Which one shall it be?"


[Pg 20]



Morning came. Pilar attended her sick grandfather and made him comfortable in his bed. He did not speak to her. He seemed to want to doze all the time.

She went into her room and knelt down beside the wooden chest. She must go now and sell one of the treasures. Which one should it be?

She took out each in turn and looked at them. All were so precious—parts of her mother's life. Here was an old pair of castanets, scarred and battered, not so pretty as the beautiful comb, the handsome clock, the embroidered bonnet, or—

Perhaps she would sell those ugly castanets. [Pg 21] And yet—just look at this old red cape! Like a bullfighter's cape, only small and faded and torn—surely the least interesting and attractive of her treasures. She took it into her grandfather's room.


"Grandfather," she said, "I am going to [Pg 22] the shop of Juan (hwn) Sanchez, and I shall ask him to buy this old cape. With the money I shall buy food."

Her grandfather opened his dull eyes and looked first at the black-eyed, rosy little Pilar and then at the old red cape.

"It belonged, once long ago, to—Tony—" he began.

Then his voice trailed off. He closed his eyes and fell asleep again. He was very feeble.

Pilar kissed him gently and stole out of the house.

The narrow streets of Seville looked like thin Arabs with their arms pressed close to their white-robed sides. They were bright with sunlight. They were noisy with squawking motor horns, with chattering men and women.

Juan's shop was on the Street of the Serpents, [Pg 23] a wriggling ribbon of a street with booths and shops and cafs—a street of ragged people, of staring people, of chanting, selling people. But no automobiles or wagons were allowed upon the Street of the Serpents.

Pilar met Juan Sanchez at the door of his tiny shop.

"Good morning, Señorita (sānyō-rē-t) Pilar," he smiled.

He was glad to see Pilar. Everyone in Spain is always glad to see children. This is a good thing, because Spain is overflowing with children.

"Good morning, Señor (sā-nyōr) Juan," said the little girl. Then, timidly she held up the faded old cape. "Will you buy this from me?" she asked. "My grandfather is ill, and I must have money to pay for food and medicine."[Pg 24]

Juan looked at the cape. He said nothing, but his mouth twitched as though it wanted to smile. He turned the cape inside out and stared at something he saw.

"The name 'Tony' is printed in ink on the inside of this cape," he said.

But Pilar was not interested. She only looked up at him and repeated earnestly, "Will you buy it, señor? Will you?"

Juan shook his head. "No, Pilar," he answered. "I cannot buy it because it is worth nothing to me."

Then as he saw the cloud cover her smile, he added, "But it may be worth a great deal to you if you will send it away!"

"If I will send it away, señor?" Pilar thought that the good Juan must be teasing her. "What do you mean?"

"I mean," he said, "that you must send it to America to the one whose name is written here."[Pg 25]

He pointed to the name Tony. It meant nothing until Juan explained.


"Years ago," he said, "Tony was a little boy who played in the streets of Seville. He liked to play bullfight. This is the cape with [Pg 26] which he angered the make-believe bull. I was that bull."

"You, Juan? You were the bull?" laughed Pilar.

"Yes, and a fierce one with great horns which I held proudly to my head," answered Juan. "But today," he went on, "today this Tony—ah, he is a very rich man. He has made many American dollars."

"But how did his cape come to be among my mother's souvenirs?" asked Pilar.

"When Tony went away to seek his fortune in America," said Juan, "he must have given it to your mother. They lived next door to each other when they were children. They were very good friends."

"But why should I send the cape to Tony in America?" asked Pilar.

"Because," answered Juan, "I am sure that he will remember your mother and help you in your trouble."[Pg 27]

Pilar's eyes shone. "Oh, do you think so?" she cried.


Juan nodded his head knowingly. "I shall send it for you, Pilar," he said. "And I shall write a letter, too, and tell Tony about your sick grandfather. Now take this money, child, and buy what you need."

He pressed some coins into Pilar's hand, but she shrank back.[Pg 28]

"Oh, no, no!" she exclaimed. "I cannot take money from you, señor, when I have given you nothing for it!"

Juan laughed. "Very well, little proud one," he said. "You may bring me something else tomorrow."

Pilar thought of the old pair of castanets.

She asked Juan whether he would take them, and he replied, "Of course. It is not difficult to sell castanets in Seville."

So Pilar left the shop of Juan Sanchez, and her heart sang as she skipped along. She bought bread and fish and eggs and she took them home.

She cooked the fish and the eggs in oil, as Spanish people do. Then she poured some milk out of a pitcher and tried to make her grandfather eat and drink.

After that, she went into her tiny room and once again opened the wooden chest. This time she took out the magic castanets, [Pg 29] whose mysterious history she did not know.


But her grandfather knew all those terrible legends which had been handed down through the family. He was too intelligent really to believe them but when Pilar came into his room holding the clappers in her hand, his eyes suddenly filled with fear.[Pg 30]

"What are you doing with the castanets, Pilly?" he asked in his weak voice.

"I am going to sell them to Juan Sanchez," answered Pilar, smoothing his pillow. "Then I shall buy a little chicken and cook it for your dinner."

"No, no!" The old man tried to sit up in bed. "Do not sell the cast—"

But Pilar interrupted him. "Please, Grandfather," she said. "You must not talk. You must rest while I am gone."

She made him lie down again and he sank back wearily, closing his eyes. He was too weak to say any more, but his lips began to move.

"Castanets, with—magic—spell—" he muttered to himself.

The words were muffled. Pilar could not understand them.

She patted his hand gently and said, "Go [Pg 31] to sleep, dear Grandfather. Do not worry. Pilar will take good care of you."

Then she sang a little song which sounded like a Moorish chant. And perhaps it was, for Spain once was ruled by the Moors, who left much of their art and music behind them when they were driven out.

Pilar's soothing voice soon lulled her grandfather to sleep. And so it was that he did not finish the verse about the castanets.

It was a pity, too, as you will agree when you have heard the legend of the castanets in old Cadiz (kădĭz).

[Pg 32]



(A Legend of the Castanets)

Before the Moors came into Spain, Cadiz, or Gadir, as it was then called, had become famous for its dancers. Throughout the land they were known for their grace and beauty.

Now there lived at this time one who had grown too old to dance any more. So she wished to teach her little daughter the steps she had once loved so well.

But strangely enough, she was afraid to do this—afraid, because a savage race called the Visigoths (vĭzĭ gŏths) were sweeping through Spain and were trying to destroy the art of the people. They were overrunning the country, smashing great statues and burning fine books.[Pg 33]


[Pg 34]What would they do if they were to discover that women were secretly teaching their children to carry on the art of dancing?

Although she feared the Visigoths, this mother, who had once been a dancer, used to take her daughter to a cave far from the city. And here she would attempt to instruct the little girl.

But young Lira did not want to learn to dance. She was plump and lazy. She disliked to exercise, except with a knife and fork. For eating was the only thing she really enjoyed.

One day when the sun shone fiercely, Lira felt very sorry for herself. She was hot and twice as lazy as usual—which, I assure you, was dreadfully lazy!

She decided that she would not take her dancing lesson. Yet how was she to escape [Pg 35] it? Soon her mother would be leading her off to the cave and making her work.

Lira bit into a large loaf of bread and thought furiously. Why, of course! She would hide her mother's castanets and then say that she had lost them. This was a splendid idea.

So running off ahead of her mother, she made her way to the secret cave. Below her lay the city of Cadiz. It was so white that it made one think of chalk on snow. But to hungry little Lira, it looked like whipped cream!

Cadiz points her long, white finger out into the azure blue bay. She has a gleaming golden eye, which is the dome of her cathedral.

When Lira's mother arrived at the cave, Lira ran up to her and exclaimed, "Oh, Mother, I have lost the castanets! And now there will be no lesson today."[Pg 36]

She then sat down and continued to chew contentedly upon her enormous loaf of bread. But her mother's face turned white.


"What are you saying, child?" she cried. "Do you tell me you have lost the castanets?"

Lira nodded and took an unusually large bite out of the loaf. Her mother stood over her, her face a mask of fear.[Pg 37]

"Lira," she gasped, "do you know what you have done? If, indeed, you have lost the castanets, then truly you have brought misfortune upon your whole family."

Whereupon, her mother recited this verse:

"Castanets, with magic spell,
Never lose or give or sell;
If you do, then grief and strife
Will follow you through all your life."

Lira's eyes grew big. The loaf of bread dropped to the ground as she arose.

Leading her mother to the rock behind which she had hidden the castanets, she said, "Look, Mother. The castanets are not really lost. I was only fooling you. They are hidden in here and—"

She pulled out the loose rock and looked behind it. The castanets were gone.

Now, in those days, people believed in [Pg 38] spells and charms, and Lira's mother was terribly frightened. She was also terribly angry with Lira.

She hurried away toward home, leaving Lira standing alone, with the tears running down her plump little cheeks. She was afraid to go home, and so she wandered down to the wide beach.

Here children were playing, while boys and girls with flashing eyes were swinging along, clapping their hands and singing. Music sounded. Laughter rang. Night had begun to fall.

A crescent moon hung in the sky. It was a moon that had been cut in half, and the other half was Cadiz. The air was full of dream dust, with garlic in it.

Lira did not feel the spell of night that had settled upon the rest of the world. She was [Pg 39] too miserable. What had become of the castanets?

Had some evil power removed them from behind that rock? And if so, what frightful thing would happen to her and to her family?

Gradually the people began to leave the beach and finally Lira found herself alone. She looked out across the bay—a bay that was to become the scene of historic battles during Spain's wars with England and France.

Moonlight twinkled silvery upon the water. It was very quiet. And then, all at once, Lira heard a step behind her, and a mysterious voice whispered: "Lira, Lira, turn around!"

Her heart skipped like a pebble across a lake. She turned. There stood her older [Pg 40] brother, his figure looming straight and tall in the moonlight. Lira sighed with relief.


But her brother did not move. He only stood, scowling down at her. Then he continued [Pg 41] to talk in that low, frightening voice.

"Do you know," he said, "that you have brought terrible misfortune upon us, Lira?"

Lira felt the hot tears begin to sting her eyes again. So he, too, was going to scold her for losing the castanets! But suddenly he took a step toward her and, thrusting his face close to hers, said, "The Visigoths are coming to drive us away from our homes!"

Lira began to tremble. Those terrifying savages! She knew that they had been sweeping her country, destroying everything in their path. Now they were about to descend upon her home. And it was all her fault—hers! She sobbed and clung to her brother.

"Oh, why did I do it?" she cried. "Why did I hide the castanets?"

Her brother put his hand under her chin and lifted her head so that their eyes met.[Pg 42]

"Are you sorry, little sister?" he asked kindly.

Lira's answer was a pitiful wail.

"Will you ever tell another untruth?"

"No, no, never, as long as I live!"

"Will you remember the jingle about the castanets?"

"Yes, yes! Always and forever!"

"And will you work hard and learn to dance and carry on our mother's art?"

"Yes, yes! Oh, I will try so hard!"

"Then—look, sister!"

And to her amazement, Lira's brother held out the magic castanets. He had been watching when she hid them. And when she had gone into the cave, he had played a trick upon her by taking them away.

It was a trick that Lira never forgot—never, though she lived to be very old. All [Pg 43] her life she treasured the magic castanets and never again did she lose sight of them.

But something else she did lose, and that was her round little figure. Indeed, she became lovely and slender. She also became a famous dancer, and one day she taught her own children the dances of Spain.


[Pg 44]



Pilar was on her way to Juan's shop on the Street of the Serpents. In her hand were those magic castanets. She was taking them to Juan. She was going to sell them.

She passed the lovely Alcazar (l-kthr) Gardens, from which came the perfume of flowers and blossoms. She heard the soft voice of bells from the Giralda, a prayer tower which had belonged to an ancient Moorish mosque (mŏsk).

In a little square, some of Pilar's friends were dancing to the music of a hurdy-gurdy. Pilar stopped. How she longed to join them in their dance!

The thought came to her that she had [Pg 45] never tried her mother's castanets. She wondered how they would sound. She fixed them on her fingers and began to play.

Their beauty astonished her. They spoke. They sang. They cried out to her feet and she danced. She danced until she was breathless and the hurdy-gurdy had gone away. So had the children—gone to their homes.

Pilar was alone. She stood in the center of the little court, its white, balconied houses all around, and its ancient fountain squatting in the center.

But to Pilar, time had not passed. She had been in a dream of music. The castanets had drawn her into a dream of music and dance.

Now she slowly unloosed them from her fingers. Never had she known that such beautiful sound could come from two wooden [Pg 46] clappers. Why, her own little cheap ones were hideous and shrill beside these speaking marvels.


How could she give them up? How could she take them to Juan to be sold? No, no! She must keep them. She must keep them [Pg 47] and dance every day to their rippling music.

But Juan had given her money, for which she had promised to bring him the castanets. And it would never do to give Juan her own instead, for that would be cheating.

But there were other lovely souvenirs in her chest at home. Perhaps Juan would as soon have one of these!

Pilar went home, and once again she knelt down beside the wooden chest. Out came each precious souvenir. Which should she take to Juan in place of the castanets?

If those souvenirs could have spoken, what strangely wonderful stories they could have told!

Pretend, for fun, that they can speak, and let us listen to their ancient voices.

The Sharp Knife From Toledo

"I am a knife—a very sharp knife. I was [Pg 48] made in Toledo, which is said to be the oldest town in Spain.

"Toledo sits proudly upon a granite throne, like some weatherbeaten queen. The River Tagus (tāgŭs) laps about her feet as though to wash away the dust of ages.

"There are Arab stories in the ancient streets of Toledo. Once it was an important center of the Romans, the Goths, and then the Moors.

"The cathedral is supposed to be the richest in the world. It contains a room with massive doors, to which six keys must be used before one may enter. In this room are the priceless jewels of the Madonna.

"I am made of the celebrated Damascus (dȧ-măskŭs) steel. I have a beautiful design worked into my handle. Ages ago, this art, which is called Damascene (dămȧ-sēn) work, [Pg 49] was brought from the city of Damascus.


"I have a very dangerous temper and when I am angered, I bite. So be careful, for I am a very sharp knife."[Pg 50]

The Proud Comb From Barcelona

"I am a tall, elegant comb, and my home is Barcelona (brsĕ-lōnȧ), the most important city in Spain. Oh, dear! There goes Madrid, howling at me again! Whenever I say that Barcelona is more important, the city of Madrid creates the most frightful row.

"It is jealousy, of course. For even if she is the capital of Spain, she is not so wonderful as Barcelona. At least, that is what we who live here think. And perhaps I can convince you, too, if you will go for a walk with me.

"Just think! I am honoring you by inviting you to walk with me through Barcelona, Spain's most important—oh, all right, then, Spain's most modern city!

"Shall we start from the harbor? It is the chief port of Spain. Do you see that fine monument of Christopher Columbus over there?[Pg 51]


[Pg 52]"Now we shall stroll along the celebrated Rambla. Is this not a handsome promenade, with its flowers and trees? Would you like to sit here at a little table and sip some chocolate?

"They say that Barcelona has more sidewalk cafs than any other city its size in Europe. You see, we know how to enjoy ourselves. Yet we are not lazy. No, indeed! We are most active. Why, Barcelona never sleeps.

"We are situated on the blue Mediterranean Sea. Not far from the city, there is a wonderful monastery called Montserrat (mŏntsĕ-răt). It is perched high up amid a mystic forest of stony crags.

"Montserrat is the shrine of the Black Virgin, a sacred carving. The story goes [Pg 53] when the Moors held Spain, this carving was hidden in a cave. Many years later, it was found by shepherds who heard weird music near by.

"They tried to move the Black Virgin, but could not, and so a church was built to hold it. Today great crowds swarm up the mountain to see the sacred carving.

"But now I shall have to leave you. I could show you much more, of course, but there might be an objection if I did. You ask why? Because a certain city I know would be afraid that you might agree with me that Barcelona is more important than she is!"

The Lazy Clock From El Escorial

"I am an old clock. I used to sit upon a shelf in one of the most curious castles in Spain—El Escorial (ĕl ĕs-kōrĭ-ăl). It was built by King Philip II.[Pg 54]


"King Philip built El Escorial as his tomb. Today, it stands a gray and gloomy monument [Pg 55] upon a barren hill, and in its vaults are buried the kings and queens of Spain.

"Among the marble tombs, there is one which looks like a round, white birthday cake. It is the tomb of the children—young princes and princesses.

"King Philip watched the building of this immense palace from a rocky seat on a hill above. And later when he was very ill, he used to lie in his bedroom next to the chapel and listen to the church services.

"Ho, hum! I am a sleepy, lazy old clock. But then, all clocks in Spain grow lazy, for we are seldom used. Everybody is always late.

"Yet here is a funny thing. I have been told that Spain produces more quicksilver than any other country. Think of that! Quicksilver!"[Pg 56]


The Faded Fan From Valladolid

"I am a fan. I belonged to a lady who lived in the town of Valladolid (vly-thō̍-lēth). It was built by a Moor named Olid, and was called Valle de Olid, Valley of Olid.[Pg 57]

"The names of many important men are connected with Valladolid. King Philip II was born there. The Catholic monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella, were married there. Cervantes (sẽr-văntēz), the author of 'Don Quixote' (dō̍n kē̍-hōtā̍), that famous Spanish romance, lived there; and Christopher Columbus died there."

The Saucy Bonnet From Segovia

"I am a bonnet, and I am very proud of myself because I am a beautiful creation. I am also very proud to think that I was born in the marvelous city of Segovia (sā̍-gōvy).

"Segovia has a Roman aqueduct which is one of the most remarkable of its kind in the world. It is sometimes called the Devil's Bridge, because a legend tells that Satan built it in a single night.[Pg 58]

"There is also the famous Alcazar, an ancient castle set high upon a sharp cliff. It was built in the eleventh century by King Alfonso VI. Besides these marvels, Segovia has many fine churches and castles and cathedrals.

"How do I, a mere bonnet, know all these things? Ah, let me tell you this: I am not only very handsome; I am extremely wise."

Next day Pilar brought Juan these souvenirs. But it was of no use. Juan would not have any of them. He shook his head and told Pilar that he could not rob her of her wonderful treasures.

"You must bring me the old castanets, child," he said. "They are all that I will take."

Pilar begged and coaxed, but Juan was very stubborn.[Pg 59]

"No, child," he repeated, "These are too fine and valuable to sell. Bring me the battered old castanets, for they have little value."

Poor Pilar! She now sat weeping in her room—weeping silently so as not to disturb her sick grandfather, who slept a great part of the day.

She held the castanets in her hands and looked at them tenderly. Juan had said that they possessed little value. Oh, but they did possess value to Pilar, for she loved them.

As to their real value, neither Pilar nor Juan could possibly guess. For though the other souvenirs might bring more in money, the castanets might well bring joy or grief to their owner. Or, at least, so it had seemed to Pilar's ancestors.

However, Pilar had given her word to Juan that she would bring them to his shop [Pg 60] tomorrow, and so she must. If only Juan had heard the terrible tale of the castanets in old Granada (grȧ-ndȧ), he would not have held Pilar to her promise.


[Pg 61]



(A Legend of the Castanets)

Catalina was the many-times-great-granddaughter of Lira, the plump little girl of ancient Cadiz. And to Catalina now belonged the magic castanets.

The Moors had taken Spain away from the savage Visigoths and had built wonderful cities, palaces, and fortresses. One of these palaces was the magnificent Alhambra, set high upon a hill above the city of Granada.

It was here that Catalina danced before Boabdil (bōb-dēl), Arab ruler of the great Alhambra. And to the romantic young girl this beautiful "Red Castle" spelled fairy-land.[Pg 62]


[Pg 63]She loved its sheltered courts, its walls of brightly colored tiles, its patios of cypress trees and tinkling fountains. She loved the stately arches, the graceful columns, and she also loved a handsome young Moor named Hamet. He was a soldier in Boabdil's army.

But while Catalina lived in a dream of happiness, all was not so perfect with the Moorish ruler, Boabdil. The Christian monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella, had reconquered the kingdom of Granada.

One night after Catalina had danced in one of the great halls, she met Hamet in the Court of the Myrtles. The moon shone down upon a crystal clear pool, and birds flew about the court like fluttering ghosts.

The two young people lowered their voices as they spoke. Hamet told Catalina of desperate battles in which the Moors were being [Pg 64] overthrown by the Christians. He seemed much disturbed.

Finally he said, "Let us go where none can hear us. I have something strange and terrible to tell you."

He led her out upon a balcony where they stood looking down upon the city of Granada. Its little white, square fairy cubicles seemed to be lit up with stars that fell down from the sky.

"It has been said," began Hamet in a low tone, "that the court astrologer predicted the downfall of the kingdom under the reign of Boabdil!"

Catalina shrank back. What if her Hamet were to be taken away from her? This was all she could think of, and the thought tortured her. She did not consider the fate of her people. She considered only herself and what she would do, were Hamet to leave her.[Pg 65]

A short time later, Granada did indeed fall before the Christian rulers. And upon that fateful day when the palace was seized, Hamet was obliged to ride away from Granada with Boabdil, his leader.

Outside of the city, the vanquished Boabdil handed the keys of Granada to King Ferdinand. Then he and his followers rode off into the hills. The story goes that as they reached a certain hill, Boabdil stopped to gaze down upon his beloved "Red Castle," which he would never see again. And the Moor wept.

His mother chided him, saying, "You do well to weep like a woman for what you failed to defend like a man."

The hill upon which this happened is still known as "The Last Sigh of the Moor."

But to go back to Catalina at the palace. Left alone without Hamet, she did not sigh, nor did she weep. Oh, but she did storm and rage and stamp her feet.[Pg 66]


[Pg 67]Catalina's temper was well known in the palace. When a servant came to summon her to dance before the new rulers, his knees shook with fright.

"Fair d-dancer," he began, "w-will you c-come—?"

"I will not!" screamed Catalina, and threw her shoe at him.

Then the miserable girl sank down upon her couch and fell into a fit of weeping.

At twilight, Catalina stood upon that same balcony where Hamet had told her what the court astrologer had predicted. All had come true, and the conquest of Granada marked the end of Moorish power in Spain.

To Catalina came the voice of the town below. The Sierra Nevada Mountains raised their snowy tips, and the smell of little [Pg 68] donkeys mingled with mountain perfumes.


One star shone, Moor-like, in the deep blue heaven. There was a fringe of orange light where the sun had just gone to bed, leaving his rosy night robe hanging on the sky.[Pg 69]

But Catalina saw none of this beauty. Her eyes and her heart were blind with unreasonable rage. Fleeing from the balcony, she ran into the Myrtle Court.

Raising her pale little face to the fast-darkening sky, she cried, "I shall never, never, never dance again!"

With that, she threw her castanets into the deep pool in the center of the court. They sank quickly to the bottom, down, down in a black circle. The magic castanets!

Not until several days later, when Catalina's temper had cooled, did she suddenly remember the old verse which her grandmother had taught her:

"Castanets, with magic spell,
Never lose or give or sell;
If you do, then grief and strife
Will follow you through all your life."

[Pg 70]What had she done? How could she have thrown away the magic castanets?

Quickly Catalina returned to the Myrtle Court. A palace attendant promised to search the pool for her. But when he did, the castanets were nowhere to be found.

The story goes that not until Catalina became a very old lady did she recover the castanets. And then nobody rightly knows how it came about.

But what we do know is that never again did Catalina see her sweetheart. For a year after he had left her, Hamet was killed in the wars.

If Catalina had not lost her temper, she would not have lost the magic castanets. And if she had not lost the magic castanets—well, would her story, perhaps, have been different?

[Pg 71]



Several days passed before Pilar was able to leave her house and go to Juan's shop—several anxious days. Because that night, her grandfather had grown worse, and she had been obliged to call the doctor.

The doctor had been coming every day since then, and Pilar could not leave her grandfather's side. Neighbors had been kind, helping with food and attentions.

Now that her grandfather was better, Pilar realized that she must repay those good neighbors. So this morning, as soon as the burning Spanish sun arose, Pilar arose, too.

She prepared her grandfather's breakfast [Pg 72] and made him comfortable in his bed. Then she drank her thick, sweet chocolate, and off she went to Juan's shop, taking along the old wooden chest.

Juan could not help smiling when he saw her enter, weighed down by her huge burden. It looked to Juan as if the big chest should really have been carrying the little girl.

"Good morning, Señorita Pilar," he laughed. "And where is the chest taking you today?"

Pilar did not smile. Resting the chest upon the counter, she said, "Grandfather has been very ill since last I saw you, Señor Juan."

"Ah, I am sorry, child," said Juan.

"But now he is much better," added Pilar more cheerfully, "And I have brought you what I promised."[Pg 73]

"The castanets?" asked Juan, looking at her shrewdly.

"More than the castanets, Señor Juan," answered the little girl. "For they alone will not pay you for all the money I now need."

She started to open the chest, and Juan started to shake his head. But Pilar caught his arm, and her large, dark eyes pleaded pitifully.

"Oh, take them, please, Señor Juan!" she cried. "For I need a great deal of money! The doctor says that Grandfather will not be able to work for a long time."

She pulled out of the chest the Damascene knife from Toledo, the tall comb from Barcelona, the faded fan from Valladolid, the ancient clock from El Escorial, and the saucy bonnet from Segovia.

"Here, take them, please, señor," she said. [Pg 74] "And also—" She put her hand inside the chest and drew out the magic castanets. "These, too," she whispered, "for I promised."


Juan looked at the old wooden clappers. [Pg 75] Then he looked at Pilar. And quite abruptly he turned around to the strong box where he kept his money. He unlocked it and took out some paper bills.

"Here, little Pilar," he said. "Here is the money for you and your grandfather. I shall keep the knife and the clock and the fan, the comb, and the bonnet. But—" He pushed away her hand which held the castanets. "Keep those, since you love them so much."

Pilar clasped the castanets to her heart and her face lit up like a thousand candles.

"Oh, Señor Juan!" she sighed. "You are so good!"

Juan patted her shoulder.

"It is all right, my child," he said. "And if, later on, you are in need of more money, bring me the castanets. I can sell them to a dancing master who would like to buy them. He is very fond of such antiques."[Pg 76]

Pilar did not answer right away. Then she said in a sober voice, "Before I give up the castanets, Señor Juan, I shall first bring you all the rest of my souvenirs. The castanets will be the very last to go. And how I hope that I shall never, never have to part with them!"


[Pg 77]



The Moors said, "Three times three things a woman must have: white skin, white teeth, and white hands; black eyes, black brows, and black lashes; rosy lips, rosy cheeks, and rosy nails."

Little Pilar had all of these. She was a Spanish beauty. But she was not only beautiful; she was also useful. She could sew and cook and take care of a house.

If you had asked Pilar how she had learned to sew and to cook and to take care of a house, she would have shrugged her shoulders and answered, "I did not learn. I just knew."[Pg 78]

She just knew, as she knew how to dance.


But poor Pilar had not been able to join her dancing companions in the gardens or the squares for many a day now. Her [Pg 79] grandfather's health had not improved very much, and Pilar could seldom leave him.

As time went on, Pilar watched the money which Juan had given her gradually disappear, and at last there was no more left. But fortunately there were still souvenirs left in the chest, and these Pilar took to Juan. Four of the remaining souvenirs were old paintings.

When Juan saw them, he remarked, "These paintings are of four famous people. Let me tell you their stories."

These are the stories he told:

Luis de Leon of Salamanca

In the Middle Ages, when the University of Salamanca (sălȧ-măngkȧ) was one of the finest in Europe, there lived a man named Luis de Leon. He was a friar. He was also one of Spain's great poets and a professor at the university.[Pg 80]

One day as Fray Luis de Leon was teaching his class, he was seized and thrown into prison. This was during the time of the inquisition, when people were arrested for their religious beliefs.

Fray Luis remained in prison for many years. When he returned to Salamanca, everybody welcomed him, and all the important townspeople came to the university to hear him make a speech.

But Fray Luis did not make a speech. He faced the schoolroom full of his pupils and others who had come to hear him, and, taking up the daily lesson, he remarked simply, "As we were saying yesterday—" just as if he had never been away!

Salamanca sits upon the banks of the River Tormes (trmās) across an old Roman bridge. It is a city of domes and spires, of quiet memories of art and culture.[Pg 81]

St. Teresa of Avila

Once upon a time, long, long ago, there lived in the town of Avila (vē̍-l) a little girl named Teresa. Often Teresa would read stories to her brother. These stories were not about fairies, kings, and queens, nor even robbers. They were about saints.

Little Teresa wished very much to become a saint and to live in heaven. So one day she and her brother set off for the country of the Moors. Their reason for doing this was because they thought that they might be beheaded.

But this great pleasure was to be denied them. An uncle found them on the road and brought them home. It is a blessing that he did and that young Teresa was allowed to grow up. For she became a very holy woman, who did much good in the world.

The city of Avila seems to breathe the [Pg 82] holiness of St. Teresa. It is surrounded by a treeless desert and giant rocks. Its perfect Roman walls clasp it tightly as if to safeguard its mystery and charm.


Do you hear the ding-donging bells of the many churches? They carry one off to dreamland. Do you hear the clink-clinking hoofs of the tiny donkeys? They carry hens and roosters to market in crates upon their backs. Avila is an old-fashioned town.[Pg 83]

The Cid of Valencia

"Godfather, please give me a colt. You have so many. You will never miss one."

Rodrigo de Bivar (rō̍-drēgō de bevr) stood in the paddock beside his godfather, Don Pedro, a priest of Burgos (bo͞orgōs). They were watching the horses, mares, and their colts running wild. How free and beautiful they were, with their lovely manes flowing in the breeze!

"You may choose the best for yourself, godson," said Don Pedro.

Young Rodrigo's keen eyes followed each graceful young horse as it passed. But he said nothing. He said nothing until an ugly, shaggy little animal came by.

Then he cried out, "This is the one I want, godfather!"

His godfather gave him a look of disgust.

"Babieca! (babieca) (Foolish one!)" he scolded. "This is indeed a stupid choice!"[Pg 84]


Rodrigo was not dismayed. Smiling, he said, "Babieca shall be my horse's name!"

It was this same Babieca, or Booby, who carried Rodrigo de Bivar through his many famous battles. It was Babieca, too, who is supposed to have wept over his master when the great warrior-lord died.[Pg 85]

For young Rodrigo became Spain's most celebrated hero, the Cid, about whom songs have been sung and tales have been spun. Many of these are, of course, only romance and legend. But the Cid did indeed live and triumph.

One of his greatest victories was the conquest of that rich and beautiful city, Valencia (vȧ-lĕnshĭ-ȧ), which is still called Valencia del Cid.

Columbus of—Where?

"Please, a little food and shelter. We are very hungry and tired!"

The man was Christopher Columbus, and the child, Diego, his son. Weary and discouraged, they had arrived at the monastery of La Rabita.

For a long time, Christopher Columbus had been trying to interest the Spanish court [Pg 86] in his scheme to sail across the unknown ocean. He thought that by sailing west he would reach Asia.

But the King and Queen were busy with their struggles against the Moors, and they would not listen to him.

The kind monks at the monastery of La Rabita sheltered Columbus and his little son. They also gave heed to his eager hopes and plans, and at last Prior Perez of the monastery wrote a letter to Queen Isabella.

As we well know, Queen Isabella made it possible for Christopher Columbus to sail across the ocean and discover America. But nobody yet has really discovered Christopher Columbus.

Where was he born? Some say in Italy, others, in northern Spain. Perhaps Columbus was a Jew who changed his religion and nationality. This could well have been, because [Pg 87] at that time the Jews in Spain were being tortured and sent away from their country.

When Columbus returned from his famous voyage, he was received in Barcelona by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. They made him Lord High Admiral of the Ocean Sea and Hereditary Viceroy of the New World.

But after the death of the Queen, Columbus was badly treated by King Ferdinand, and he died in poverty and despair at a miserable inn.

When Juan had finished telling the stories about the four paintings, Pilar asked, "Will you buy them from me, Señor Juan?"

Juan answered, "Yes, if you really must sell them, Pilar. But I wish that you might keep them, for they are very fine."[Pg 88]

"I need the money," said Pilar simply.

"Then why not let me sell those ugly castanets?" inquired Juan. "The dancing master will willingly pay for them."

"No, no!" cried Pilar. "They shall be the last to go."

So Juan took the four paintings and gave Pilar money for them. And now there remained in the wooden chest only three souvenirs. One was a bottle of old wine, one a small dagger, and one the magic castanets.

[Pg 89]



Fiestas (fyĕsts) (festivals) and fairs are the joy of the Spanish people. Some are held upon saints' days. In Spain one celebrates the birthday of the saint for whom one is named.

Tonight there was a fiesta in Triana, which is across the bridge from Seville. It is where the gypsies live.

Pilar was on her way to Triana with a group of her friends. She was dressed in her dancing costume. She wanted to dance and use her magic castanets. This would be the last time she could do so. For of all her mother's souvenirs, only the castanets were now left. And tomorrow—[Pg 90]


But Pilar did not like to think about that tomorrow. Juan had sold everything else out of the wooden chest. Everything else had gone, even the wooden chest itself—gone to pay for food and medicines.

He had sold the very old bottle of sherry [Pg 91] wine, which had come from a well-known cellar of Jerez (hā̍-rāth), once called Scheriz.

In this cellar there is a cluster of huge barrels, upon which are written noted names, such as the Prince of Wales' and our own President's. They contain wines made in the year of each person's birth.

A family of well-trained mice lives in this cellar. When the attendant rings a bell and scatters bread upon the floor, these tiny creatures run out from behind the barrels.

Juan had also sold the small dagger of Moorish design. It had come from the town of Cordoba (krdō̍-v), once an important center. The famous Mosque of Cordoba, with its striped arches, was built by the Moors. But it has since been made into a Christian church.

King Charles V is supposed to have said to the Christian builders, "You have built what can be found anywhere, but you have [Pg 92] spoiled what cannot be found anywhere else.


Cordoba is a white city of twisting streets. There are golden knobs upon some of the doors; ragged beggars fill the streets; and children seem to grow in doorways.[Pg 93]


One sees in Cordoba those broad-brimmed hats which belong to that part of Spain called Andalucia (nd-lo͞o-thē).

A legend tells how Andalucia received its name. Every saint in heaven had been given a spot over which to rule—every one, except poor little Saint Lucia. So she searched the world for a country, but most of the world had already been taken by other saints.

One day, however, she came to a land of sunshine and flowers, with which she was delighted. She asked if she might have it for her own, and a mysterious voice answered and said to her, "Anda, Lucia! (Go there, Lucia!)"[Pg 94]

And that is why, the legend tells, this sunny part of Spain is called Andalucia.

Seville, too, is in Andalucia; and now let us go back to Seville and to Pilar.

Tonight Pilar had left her grandfather for the first time in many evenings. A neighbor had kindly offered to stay with him while she went to the fiesta. Pilar's heart had been crying out for music and dancing.

Across the bridge, over the Guadalquivir (gwdăl-kwĭvẽr) River, went the crowd of young people. They passed the Torre del Oro (trrā̍ dĕl ōrō) (Tower of Gold), where treasure once was stored.

In Triana there are many pottery shops; also there is a large American olive factory. It is said that the best olives are grown in sight of the Giralda Tower, which is in Seville.[Pg 95]


At the fiesta, music and song filled the air. [Pg 96] Lanterns were strung from poles. Booths lined the square. Nuts and fruits and cakes were sold. There were small wagons where men fried long, golden cakes like the doughnut.

Shawls, laces, paintings, toys, and fans for sale. Merry-go-rounds, sideshows, dancing, and more dancing. Pilar and her friends whirled about, kicking their legs, pointing their toes, rolling their eyes, and rippling their castanets.

At last, tired, but filled with rhythm and harmony, the group started for home.

After Pilar had left the fiesta, however, somebody asked about her. That somebody was a great dancing master.

He asked, "Who was that little beauty in the white costume trimmed with green? She played a pair of golden-voiced castanets.[Pg 97]

Where does she live? I should like to have her as my pupil."


But nobody in Triana knew where Pilar lived, and, of course, her name is a common one in Spain.[Pg 98]

On the way home, Pilar's spirits began to fall. She began to think of having to part with her precious castanets. How she wished that there might be some other way of—!

Suddenly she remembered Tony—Tony, the boy who had played bullfight with Juan years ago. It was weeks now since Juan had sent the old red cape to America and had written to Tony.

Juan had said that Tony was rich and generous and that he would help Pilar and her grandfather because he would remember Pilar's mother. But Pilar had begun to wonder whether Tony really would.

When she reached home, all the excitement of the fiesta had worn away. She was very unhappy. Tomorrow she must give up the castanets. Juan had said that he could [Pg 99] sell them to a dancing master, who paid handsomely for antiques.

Pilar started to undress. She unpinned the brooch that fastened her costume at the throat. And all at once, her face lit up with a wonderful new idea.

She would take this brooch to Juan tomorrow. It was her own, part of her dancing costume. But she would far rather part with it than with her mother's castanets.

The brooch was a small painting called a miniature. It was the likeness of young Prince Alfonso, the brother of Queen Isabella of Spain.

Pilar hurried off to bed. And while she sleeps, let us listen to the "Mystery of the Young Prince."

[Pg 100]



Alfonso was only a boy. But some day he would be king, for he was next in line to his brother, King Henry. After him came his sister, Isabella, a beautiful little girl, earnest and thoughtful.

Alfonso felt himself to be Isabella's knight and protector. He had learned to ride and to use his sword like a true Spanish cavalier.

One day at twilight Isabella sat at the window, embroidering a Moorish design upon a bit of gold cloth. Alfonso, his studies over for the day, was reading to her.

Better than anything else, the Prince loved to read—which may have been the [Pg 101] reason for what happened later—at least, for what is supposed to have happened. For nobody rightly knows the truth of the bitter story.

As the two children sat together, enjoying the happiest moment of their day, one of the King's spies secretly watched and listened.

He heard the Princess Isabella say, "Enough of that for now, Alfonso. Come. Read my favorite book."

Alfonso put down the book which he had been reading, and the spy noted well its title, "The Odyssey (ŏdĭ-sĭ)." He also had noted something else. Always before the Prince turned a page, he first moistened his finger with his tongue.

Squinting his eyes, the spy smiled wickedly to himself and stole away.

Several nights later, this same spy crept [Pg 102] into the Prince's chamber and, feeling cautiously about, he at last found what he sought. It was a book, "The Odyssey."

Working with agile fingers, he opened the book, and upon each page he smeared a deadly poison. Then he returned the book to its place and left the room as quietly as he had entered.

Now trouble and discontent filled the country. Some of the people were not pleased with King Henry, and they wanted to place young Alfonso upon the throne.

The Prince and his sister began to live through turbulent times, and their peaceful hours together were over. Alfonso was thrown into prison, then suddenly freed again, to become an important figure in the kingdom.

He was told that soon he would be crowned king, for the rebels were going to overthrow [Pg 103] his brother Henry. Whispered plans, secret schemes stirred in the air like poisonous insects. And the poisoned book lay where the spy had left it. The Prince found little time for reading.


But today he had managed to meet his sister, and the two were very happy to be together again for an hour of quiet reading.

Alfonso picked up the book, "The Odyssey," [Pg 104] but Isabella said, "No, not that one, Alfonso. Today let us hear this most interesting novel. It tells why the wind blows, why we smell and taste and hear, all in the form of a story."

She smiled and handed him the other book. Good-naturedly Alfonso put down "The Odyssey." Had he but known it, he put from him death!

Soon afterwards, the prince was again torn from his sister, this time to live through one of the most dramatic events in his stormy young life.

One day a splendid procession made its way into the town of Avila. Among the cavaliers rode Prince Alfonso. His horse richly decked, he sat stiffly upon the saddle, clothed in armor. His boyish face was grave and stern.

As he passed, the people cried out, "Long live King Alfonso!"[Pg 105]

A throne had been erected out upon the plains. On this throne sat what appeared to be a king. He held a scepter, and the crown upon his head gleamed brightly in the sun.

But as the cavalcade drew closer, it was seen that the figure had fallen over on its side like a sawdust doll. And indeed, that is just what it was—a scarecrow, made to represent King Henry.

The Prince and his followers stood upon the platform. A colorful crowd had gathered about them—monks in brown, monks in white and black, lords in bright-hued mantles, Moors with turbans on their heads, peasants, beggars, young and old.

Bugles rang out, and drums rolled. The little Prince stood, proudly royal, in his armor. His blond hair showed under the visor which had been pushed back from his head.[Pg 106]

Then the Archbishop snatched the crown from the head of the scarecrow king and roared, "Thus lose the royal dignity which you have guarded ill."

And one of the cavaliers roughly kicked the figure off its throne. There were cries and shouts and some gasps of horror. Alfonso was seated upon the throne and crowned King of Avila.

Petty wars, robberies, and murders followed. Part of the country was in favor of King Henry, while the rebels supported Alfonso. A terrible battle took place in Toledo. Houses were burned and people massacred.

A few days later, Alfonso arrived in the town.

Those who had burned and massacred bowed down to the young king, saying, "We will fight for your cause if you will approve this massacre."[Pg 107]


Alfonso replied, "God forbid that I should approve such horrors!"

The next thing he knew, Alfonso's country was plunged into war. The rebels were to meet the King's men in conflict.[Pg 108]

The night before the battle Alfonso, rest-less and unhappy, paced his chamber. Why must men fight? Why must they kill one another? The Prince loved power; but better than power, he loved peace.

Wherever he went, he always took along some of his books. Now upon the table lay several, and among them was "The Odyssey." Alfonso laid his hand upon his favorite work and was about to take it up when he let it fall again.

No, he could not read tonight. His heart was too heavy. He missed his sister and, too, he kept thinking of their future—a stormy prospect. For Isabella no doubt would be forced to marry some distasteful noble. And he? With enemies upon all sides, if he were not killed in war, he might well be murdered in his sleep.

Next day in full armor, his sword drawn, the boy King of Avila went out to meet his [Pg 109] foe. Fighting bravely, by his soldiers, it is said that he was last to leave the battle.


There came a time when Alfonso set forth upon a journey, accompanied by a group of nobles. Among his traveling companions were several of the King's followers, one of [Pg 110] them that same spy who had smeared poison upon the leaves of Alfonso's book.

As evening overtook the party of travelers, they drew rein in the town of Cardenosa, and planned to stop there for the night.

As usual, Alfonso had brought along his books. But too often had his enemies been disappointed, so now they planned a trick. It was a trick which would force the Prince into their cruel trap.

They removed all but one of Alfonso's books from his chamber. The one left was placed in plain view upon the table. It was "The Odyssey."

Wondering what had become of the others, but too weary to find out, the Prince settled himself to read before retiring for the night. As he opened the book he smiled, remembering Isabella and how she had always urged him to read something else.[Pg 111]

Well, tonight he might do as he pleased, for he was quite alone. Tonight he might read "The Odyssey," which he had not opened for so long.

Page after page he turned with a finger moistened by his tongue. And an hour passed.

Late during the night, a messenger rode madly into the town of Segovia where the Princess Isabella was living.

"The King of Avila is dying!" the messenger gasped. "He calls for his sister, the Princess Isabella!"

Isabella rode furiously through the night and when she reached Cardenosa, she was met by the Archbishop of Toledo. He held out his hand to her, and in his face there was pity and grief. Before he even told her, Isabella knew that her beloved brother was dead.[Pg 112]


Some claimed that enemies had given him poisoned fish. Others believed that he had died of a fever. Still others told the story which you have just heard. But whether or not it is true will remain a mystery forever.

There is a wonderful cathedral in Burgos, [Pg 113] whose Gothic spires point upward like lace fingers. They point to a hill above the city, upon which rests the Miraflores Chapel.

Inside this chapel is a beautiful statue of a boy. He wears a royal mantle and kneels before a praying desk. The boy is Alfonso.

When Henry died, it was the earnest little Isabella who became queen. Today in the Cathedral of Granada—that white and gold and silver cathedral—are the tombs of Queen Isabella and her husband, King Ferdinand.

They are carved of marble, and Isabella's pillow sinks down deeper than Ferdinand's with the weight of her head. They say that this is because her head held more brains than his.

We know she was a wise, good queen and we love her because she helped Christopher Columbus and listened to his dreams.[Pg 114]


But just suppose Alfonso had not died. Suppose, instead, that he had lived and ruled. Do you believe Alfonso would have listened to Columbus' dreams and understood as did his sister Isabella? And, had he not, where should we be today?

[Pg 115]



The sale of the Prince Alfonso brooch brought Pilar and her grandfather enough to live on for a week. Then once more Pilar was faced with having to give up the castanets.

Juan seemed eager to have them now. He said that the great dancing master had shown much interest in them.

This dancing master was the same one who had inquired about Pilar at the fiesta that night in Triana, though Juan, of course, did not know it.

At last the fatal day arrived when Pilar could no longer delay her visit to Juan's [Pg 116] shop. What she would do after this last sale she had no idea. Unless her grandfather's health improved so that he might work again, things looked black for both of them.

Pilar went out onto the balcony of her house. Girl-draped balconies are as natural in Spain as donkey-dotted roads and child-filled doorways.

Pilar gazed down on the street. The morning was golden. Church bells clanged, and a knife grinder was piping on an Arab reed. A broom-maker squatted on the pavement across the way.

Pilar's eyes were full of tears as she took up the castanets and went with them into her grandfather's room.

"I am going out, Grandfather," she said.

But she mentioned nothing about selling the castanets. She could not trust herself to speak. However, her grandfather saw [Pg 117] them in her hands, and his old eyes brightened.


"Some day I shall tell you—stories—about—those—" he breathed. "Your mother—loved—them—"

"Do not talk now, Grandfather. It will tire you," said Pilar.

She wanted to be off, to have it all over with as quickly as possible. She knew that if her grandfather told her a story about the castanets, it would be even harder to part with them. Poor Pilar! If she had listened to just one of those legends, she would not have dared to sell the wooden clappers.

"Good-bye, dear Grandfather."

She kissed him and left.[Pg 118]

As she opened the gate that led out of the small court of their house, she ran into a stout, grinning boy.

"Oh, Pepe!" cried Pilar. "When did you get back?"

All summer Pepe had been away on a journey. Now here he was home again to follow and annoy Pilar.

Pepe liked to make believe that he was a cavalier. He liked to imitate his older brothers. For in Spain a man courts his lady in a very romantic way. He stands outside her window at night, and sometimes he sings love songs to her.

This funny, stout little Pepe often met Pilar at school and walked home with her. Once he had even tried to sing under her window. But a neighbor thought it was a tomcat howling and threw a bucket of water on his head.[Pg 119]

Today Pilar was in no mood to be followed about. Today was a bitter day in her life. For this time there was no more hope of keeping the castanets. She knew that at last she must really give them up to Juan.

She started to walk on ahead of Pepe. But he followed her.

He puffed as he jogged along behind her, calling out, "Wait for me, Pilar. I have much to tell you. I have been to far-away places. Ho! Listen, Pilar. I have been to Algeciras (ăljē̍-sērȧs) and to the Rock of Gibraltar."

Pilar thought Pepe himself looked like the Rock of Gibraltar. She had seen pictures of the great, solid rock. It belongs to England, and just across Gibraltar Bay is the lazy little Spanish seaport town of Algeciras.

Pilar usually liked to listen to Pepe's tales of his travels. The boy's father often took [Pg 120] him away to places where they saw interesting and curious sights.


But today it was impossible to pay attention. She tried to get away from Pepe and walked faster and faster.

He followed doggedly, breaking into a gallop and crying out in little gasps, "Hi! But listen, Pilar."[Pg 121]

And so eager was he to reach her that he did not notice where he was going, and all of a sudden—pff! bang! He had crashed into a man wearing what looked like a ballet skirt of tin cans. They were milk cans.

They shot in all directions. The man began to scold Pepe and to wave his arms about. A crowd gathered, and in the noise and excitement, Pilar escaped from her stout little sweetheart.

Seville's great cathedral was just across the street—a massive giant, squatting in the sun. Pilar went inside. It was cool and peaceful there. Works of art filled the vast church—paintings, fine carvings, and the stately tomb of Christopher Columbus.

Pilar knelt before the altar, where a curious ceremony takes place every year. This ceremony is called "The Dance of the Six Boys."

Pilar prayed, her eyes closed, her lips moving. [Pg 122] And clasped to her heart were the castanets—the magic castanets, about which another legend was woven—a legend around this very Dance of the Six.


[Pg 123]



(A Legend of the Castanets)

The chorus had been sung, and now they were dancing to the steady, clicking rhythm of their castanets. It was a dignified dance, done by young boys wearing silken pages' costumes and wide, plumed hats.

Everybody felt the solemn beauty of the ceremony, and a hushed reverence had fallen over the cathedral. Two old people, a woman with a black shawl thrown over her head and an old man with a tanned, leathery face, sat silently weeping.

Fernando, their son, moved among those [Pg 124] graceful figures beneath the altar. He was a part of the royal Dance of the Six, called the Sevillana.

How proud were these old people of their son Fernando! How happy to know that, each year, he would take his place in this age-old ceremony of their forefathers, in the dance which had been performed for centuries in Seville's cathedral!

For in the far distant past, the Pope, hearing about the Sevillana, wished to see for himself what sort of dance it was. In those days, it would have been considered shocking for girls to dance before the Pope. So six boys were taught the steps of the Sevillana and taken to the Vatican in Rome.

Here they danced, dressed in their beautiful silken costumes. The Pope was so well pleased that he granted permission to use this dance during certain ceremonies at the cathedral. But the privilege was to last only so long as the boys' costumes lasted.[Pg 125]


[Pg 126]Today these costumes are still in use. But what a deal of patching and mending must have taken place during those hundreds of years!

When the dance was over, Fernando went into his room and pulled off his quaint, plumed hat. The reverent little dancer had changed to a furious, red-faced youth. He threw the hat down on the floor in a fit of anger.

"Never!" he cried. "Never will I dance it again!"

His sister Maria stood trembling at the door.

"Do not say that, Fernando," she begged. "Think of our parents. You would break their hearts were you never to dance in the cathedral again. These past three days have [Pg 127] been for them the happiest of their lives."

"I shall never dance again," repeated Fernando firmly. "It is girls' work, and I am a boy. I shall run away and work with men—and be a man!"

Fernando picked up his castanets, which had fallen to the floor.

"Miguel will take my place in the chorus," he said. "I shall have no more use for these castanets, and so I shall give them—"

"No! No!" cried Fernando's sister. She ran over to him and caught him by the arm. "You must never give away those castanets. Surely you have heard about their magic power and the legends attached to them. Ill luck to him who loses or gives away—"

"Nonsense!" scoffed Fernando. "I do not believe such tales. They are old women's twaddle!"

"Perhaps," agreed his sister. "Yet remember [Pg 128] what our grandmother once told us. She said that the castanets have always been a power for good. And whenever we do things which we should not do, they bring misfortune to us and to our family."

Then she recited:

"Castanets, with magic spell,
Never lose or give or sell;
If you do, then grief and strife
Will follow you through all your life."

"Yes, I know," said Fernando shortly. "But," and he grinned, "I shall change that verse to:

    'Castanets, you have no spell;
    If I lose or give or sell,
    I shall live in manly strife,
    Not be a sissy all my life!'"

One night many years later, this same Fernando, [Pg 129] now a man, glided along in a boat on a river near the border of France. With him were several other men, and all of them were smugglers.

Fernando had long lived in the Pyrenees (pĭrē̍-nēz) Mountains. He had joined a band of people who secretly smuggled forbidden goods from Spain to France in the dead of night. They led a dangerous life and were always in fear of the customs men.

As their boat now moved gently along the water, Fernando's companions slept. All night they had labored, and they were weary. But Fernando could not sleep. Somehow his thoughts kept taking him to Seville, to his parents and his sister Maria. What had become of them?

In all these years he had heard no word from them, and until now, he had barely given them a thought. But tonight—How [Pg 130] strange that they should creep into his mind!

A shot rang out hideously. The customs men were after them! Another shot! And another and another! One by one, the smugglers in the little boat crumpled where they sat. Then the small craft itself began to sink—down, down.

All was silent upon the surface of the water. All was silent for a long time, and then Fernando, holding to a floating board, slowly raised his head.

The morning had begun to dawn over the Spanish Pyrenees. A hoarse church bell rang out. Fernando looked about him. The customs men had gone back to France. The smugglers, too, had gone, but not to France; to the bottom of the river.

Fernando swam to shore, and the next day he set off for Seville. He had one aim: to find his family and to try to make up for the heartache he had caused them.[Pg 131]

But Fernando was never to see his parents again. Long since the old people had died, and only his sister Maria remained. He found her living in a poor and squalid alley. Yet when he walked into her shabby room, she did not seem in the least surprised to see him.

"I knew that you would come back, Fernando," she said quietly. "I expected you."

Puzzled, he started to speak, but she silenced him.

Then thrusting her hand inside her blouse, she drew out the magic castanets, saying, "They were brought back to me, Fernando!"

Fernando stood fixed to the spot, his eyes upon the old clappers, which he had given away so many years ago in a fit of boyish rage. Then a sudden curious idea occurred to him.

"When were they returned to you?" he asked Maria.[Pg 132]

She told him, and he knew then that it had been upon the very same night when his life had been spared, out there upon those dangerous waters—the very same night when he had been thinking so earnestly of his family.

His sister listened while he told her of his many adventures as a smuggler. He promised to give it all up, to help her, and to become an honest man.

"For," he ended, laughing, "there is an old Basque saying, 'If a smuggler is an honest man, then legends are the truth.'"

"But surely, Fernando," said his sister, "you must believe in the legends of the castanets after what has happened to us."

Fernando shook his head.

"I believe only in the power for good," he replied.

Some years later, Fernando had a little son [Pg 133] of his own who danced in the cathedral of Seville. And do you see those two old people who sit there watching, solemn-eyed and happy?

They are Fernando and his wife, and they are very proud that their boy is taking his place in this age-old ceremony of their forefathers.

[Pg 134]



After Pilar went out, her grandfather lay thinking. Somehow the old man felt better today. He did not fall asleep as soon as Pilar left the house.

He began to wonder where she had gone and why she had taken the castanets with her. He knew that she had been obliged to sell many of her mother's souvenirs, so that they might live. But he hoped that soon he would be able again to provide for his granddaughter and himself.

"Suppose Pilly has gone out to sell the castanets," he thought.

The idea frightened him. Yet he tried to tell himself that he was just a foolish old [Pg 135] man, to believe in a fairy tale about the charm of a pair of castanets.

Still he could not help remembering the legends which had been handed down through his family.

He lay dreaming, and before him passed the days when Pilar's mother had been young. Her name had been Carmen Pilar Innocentia Gonzales, but she had been known as "Carmen, the Little Spanish Dancer."

As a little girl, she had been just such a graceful dancer as Pilar. And one day a great teacher from Madrid had seen her and had taken her away to study in the capital.

But before that, she had spent much time on the streets of Seville. Her father could still see her playing there with her little friend Tony, who had lived next door.

Tony and his comrades had often staged a bullfight. Tony would be the brave torero [Pg 136] (tō̍-rārō) or fighter, while all the neighbors would gather round to watch the sport.

When Tony would plunge his make-believe sword into the make-believe bull, everyone would cheer loudly.


Bullfighting is still Spain's favorite sport, though recently football has arrived there. The Spanish call it "ftbol," and it has become very popular.

But Tony had always wanted to be a torero. Pilar's grandfather lay smiling as he [Pg 137] thought of that same Tony, now a wealthy tobacco merchant living in America. He was far from being a bullfighter today.

However, when Pilar's mother, Carmen, grew older, she had been courted by a young man who was a bullfighter. The memory of this young man brought to mind again the fear of losing the castanets.

For Pilar's grandfather recalled a very real and dramatic story about Carmen and Pedro, the young torero.


[Pg 138]



(A Legend of the Castanets)

In the opera, "Carmen," a girl who works in a cigarette factory of Seville, is loved by a torero, or bullfighter.

The Carmen of this story did not work in a cigarette factory. She was a dancer. But she, too, had an admirer who was a torero. His name was Pedro.

In a few days Pedro was going to fight in a most important corrida, or bullfight, in the city of Madrid. He was going to fight a very fierce and savage bull. But, strange to say, Pedro did not want to kill that bull.

Now, as a general rule, toreros would [Pg 139] rather kill bulls than be killed by them, for which you cannot blame the toreros.

In this case, however, it was different. Pedro's father had raised this great bull, Rey, and Pedro was very fond of the animal. In a few days he was expected to go into the arena and kill his pet.

Often Pedro took his little friend Carmen to visit Rey, who lived in a field outside the city. Today they had come out for the last time before the famous bullfight was to take place.

Both were very sad. Carmen, too, had grown to love Rey, and the big creature seemed fond of her.

Sometimes the girl would practice upon her castanets out in the field. And always when Rey heard the clicking song of the instruments, he would come up close to the young couple and stand quietly listening.[Pg 140]

Do you wonder that this was a sorrowful day in the lives of Carmen and Pedro?

"If only we could think of some way to save him!" sighed Carmen.

She and Pedro sat upon a fence in the field. Around them rose mountains, hazy in the sun. Small stone houses cuddled among old scrub oak trees.

Suddenly Pedro's eyes sparkled. "I have it!" he cried. "I have a plan! Do you remember the bull whose life was saved during a bullfight, because he came to his owner when he was called?"

Carmen nodded. She remembered well. All Spain had heard of it.

"Then why should not Rey, too, be given this chance?" asked Pedro. "Why should he not be spared if he answers a call?"

"But who will call him?" asked Carmen.

"You," answered Pedro. "You, with your castanets."[Pg 141]

"Like this," said Carmen, and she started to play.

Softly she played, then more and more loudly, until the great bull appeared at the other end of the field. He stood looking at the boy and the girl and, all at once, he started toward them, like a big, friendly dog.

"You see!" exclaimed Pedro joyfully. "Now on Sunday, when I am fighting with him in the arena, you, from the audience, will play your castanets as you just did. If he turns and goes to you, I am sure that the judges will spare his life."

"This is a wonderful plan, Pedro," smiled the lovely little Carmen. "And I am certain that it will succeed, because, you see—" She hesitated for a moment. Then she continued, "Because these castanets are enchanted!"

"Enchanted?" Pedro laughed. "That cannot [Pg 142] be! Yet when you play them, it is I who am enchanted, my Carmen!"

Carmen did not laugh, however. She looked down soberly at her castanets.

"Legends are told in our family," she said, "about the magic power of these castanets. Whenever one of us has lost or sold or given them away, misfortune has overtaken us."

Whereupon, she recited this verse:

"Castanets, with magic spell,
Never lose or give or sell;
If you do, then grief and strife
Will follow you through all your life."

"Then whatever happens, do not lose them before next Sunday," warned Pedro, smiling.

As the young couple arose to go, Carmen gave a start.

"Did you see a figure sneak out from behind [Pg 143] that tree and disappear?" she asked Pedro.

"No, I did not," he answered. "And you are full of mystery today, little Carmen!" He was laughing at her again. "Come. Let us go home now before you see a ghost."

But Carmen had been right. There had indeed been a figure behind that tree—someone with very sharp ears, who had listened to all they had said.

He was no mystery—this figure—but a very real person. He was another torero, jealous of Pedro, who had won the love of Carmen—jealous, too, because Pedro had won popularity as a fighter, while he had not.

Carmen thought she recognized this man. Yet she was not altogether sure, and on the way home, Pedro talked her out of her fears.

Happily they started toward Madrid, unaware [Pg 144] of the terrible plan which this jealous torero was beginning to lay.


On they drove through a flat land of many vineyards. They passed small white houses with tiled hats on, and a village cut out of the landscape by a lazy hand and colored carelessly. Soon they entered Madrid.[Pg 145]

Madrid is a modern city of tram cars and toots and traffic. In the summer time, Madrid is like a faded, old duchess, who clicks her fan and squats in the sun. She is dressed in handsome plazas, fountains, and parks.

But should you chance to walk into a narrow side street, you might catch Madrid in her alley mood. Then she is a simple peasant.

Madrid is the capital, center, and heart of Spain. Pedro, the torero, had lived there all his life. But little Carmen had only recently arrived in the big city.

Upon the Sunday of Pedro's great bullfight, Carmen awoke early. Her heart pounded with excitement. Today she and her magic castanets were to try to save the life of Pedro's beloved Rey.

But suppose Rey would not listen to her? [Pg 146] Suppose he would not come to her when she played? The noisy arena would be far different from the quiet fields where she was accustomed to calling him. He would be frightened, furious, and fierce.

Bullfights do not start until four o'clock in the afternoon. Then the sun is getting ready to go to bed, and Spaniards are getting up from their siestas, or naps.

Carmen drove to the bullfight with Pedro's mother.

As they passed the Prado (prdō), Madrid's beautiful art gallery, Carmen thought, "This Prado is a heaven of art, while the corrida, only a few blocks away, is a hades of suffering!"

She began to worry. And what girl would not have worried? For no matter how brave a torero may be, it is never certain that he will come out of the arena alive. Why, even [Pg 147] his own pet, might today take Pedro's life!

From a Painting by Goya
[Pg 148]

Through the many fine streets of Madrid they drove, and at last they reached the bull ring. Crowds were swarming in through the gates of the big, round arena. Carmen and Pedro's mother, silent and sad-faced, made their way to their box.

The old lady wore a tall comb in her hair and a lace mantilla over it. She opened her fan with a click and started to fan herself. Carmen did the same, as, indeed, everyone else was doing. The sun had been very slow about going to bed.

Over on the opposite side of the arena, the poor people sat in the sun, because those seats were cheaper. There was an air of excitement. The band played the "Toreador's (tŏrē̍--dr) Song" from "Carmen," and then the fight began.[Pg 149]

There were five toreros and five bulls before Pedro's turn came. Pedro was to be last on the program.

Everything seemed to swim before Carmen's eyes during the performances of these other men and bulls. The whole thing was a sea of fluttering fans, sickly blue light, and waving red cloaks.

Then at last Pedro entered the ring. How big and handsome he looked in his colorful costume! He carried the red cape with which he was going to tease the bull.

But before that time, the bull would first be angered by men with sharp sticks and by other men on horseback.

Look! The gate is swinging open now, and here is Rey! Snorting, rolling his fine eyes, the magnificent creature gallops into the center of the arena and stands, bewildered.[Pg 150]

Suddenly Carmen cannot look to see her dear friend tortured. She hides her eyes, her delicate little white hands held in front of her face.

But when she hears the crowd yelling, "Pedro! Pedro! Ol! Ol!" she knows that she must uncover her eyes, for soon it will be her turn to act.

A cry from the crowd. The bull has charged and has caught young Pedro by the coat. But Pedro is quick. He finds his feet and twists himself to safety. The crowd cheers loudly.

Backward and forward he dances like a graceful reed, playing with the great beast, and the crowd are wild at his skill. Some throw their hats into the ring.

But Carmen sees the fury and the pain in Rey's eyes. He is wounded. He is frantic. She knows that now her turn has really [Pg 151] come and she must call to him with her castanets. There is no time to lose.


Oh, will he remember those peaceful fields and come to her when she plays? For if he does, it has been arranged that he shall live.

But should he not, the end must be the same with Rey as with every other bull in [Pg 152] every other fight. Pedro will have to plunge a dagger into the head of his friend.

"Oh, let us win!" prays little Carmen, and she opens her bag where she keeps her castanets.

The magic castanets are gone!

For a moment the world turns around in a crazy whirl. Fear clutches sharply at Carmen's heart. The beast is blind with rage. Soon Pedro will be obliged to make the final dagger thrust or—!

What must Pedro think? That she, his faithful little Carmen, has betrayed him and Rey?

Where are the castanets? Carmen knows well that she brought them with her. Someone has stolen them.

Suddenly Carmen remembers the figure she saw behind the tree that day in the meadow.[Pg 153]

Down there, close to the fence, she sees the same man! It is the jealous torero.

He passes by, his set face wickedly content, and to Carmen's keen ears comes a familiar sound. From the man's pocket, faint, yet unmistakable, she hears the click of her castanets.

Carmen is out of her seat, past the guards, and inside that dangerous arena. A gasp goes through the audience—a horrified shudder. But Carmen, her black eyes snapping, is as dangerous now as any wild bull.

She has caught the man by the arm, swung him around, and snatched from his pocket her castanets.

Now she stands very still. With her small body drawn up straight and taut, she begins to play.

Pedro is fighting desperately. But everybody knows that soon it must be man or [Pg 154] beast. The torero must kill or be killed. The audience is breathless.

Carmen's castanets sing shrilly, with a rolling trill, and, all at once, Rey lifts his massive head and listens. The call is sweet. It speaks to him of pleasant things.

What shall he do? Obey that call and follow? Or shall he stay and fight it out with all his sharp-horned strength until the end?

A frenzied murmur issues from the crowd. Slowly the people rise together in their seats, as if a mountain heaved. The bull has turned and now begins to trot toward Carmen's side.

A woman shrieks. Another faints. But proudly Carmen stands, bringing magic rhythm out of her magic castanets. And then she starts to walk away, her wooden clappers coaxing like the Piper's reed and urging Rey to follow her.[Pg 155]

He does. The huge beast, like a docile dog, allows the girl with her charm-sound, to lead him out of the arena—out of death and into life.

Little Carmen has won.


[Pg 156]



When Pilar left the cathedral, she hurried toward the Street of the Serpents. She would have to be quick. It was growing late, and her grandfather would be waiting for her.

As soon as she had sold the castanets to Juan, she would shop at the market. Then she would go home and cook the dinner.

She made herself think of the good things she would cook. But her eyes filled with tears. How could she think of eating when her precious castanets were soon to be gone?

Besides, what would she and her grandfather live on, after this money was spent? [Pg 157] Would they be obliged to ask for charity? Pilar shuddered.

The sound of a hurdy-gurdy came from the Murillo Garden as she passed. She remembered how she used to dance there every evening before her grandfather had become ill.

Her friends were dancing there now—all of them: Maria, Guadalupe, Teresa—yes, even Baby Dolores, happy, carefree, whirling about in their dance.

They had no troubles. They could stay out, dancing, singing, playing as long as they pleased.

She would join them. She must dance just once more to her golden-voiced castanets—just once more before she gave them up to Juan!

Pilar entered the garden.

Meanwhile, at home Pilar's grandfather [Pg 158] awoke. He had been dreaming. He had dreamed of that eventful bullfight when his daughter Carmen had saved the life of Pedro's bull, Rey.

Carmen had later married Pedro, and Pilar was their child. But both had passed away, leaving their little girl in the old man's care.

What was keeping Pilar now? Where had she gone, and what was taking her such a long time?

Her grandfather began to worry. He raised himself on the pillow. Dusk had fallen. The room was growing dark. Yet he could discern a white object lying on the floor just inside the door. Why, it looked like a letter. But few letters ever arrived at this house. Still it was a letter!

Oh, if Pilar would only come home! She had never been so late before.

"Suppose," he thought, "she has sold the [Pg 159] magic castanets, and something terrible has happened to her! Suppose—"


But he quickly laughed at his foolish fears, [Pg 160] and just then the door swung open and Pilar burst in.

She was weeping bitterly, her arm flung across her eyes. She threw herself down beside her grandfather's bed, sobs shaking her.

At first it was difficult to understand what she said, but gradually the words swam out thickly through her tears, "Oh, I—I have done a—terrible th-thing—"

A flood of sobs broke through and drowned the rest. Her grandfather laid a gentle hand upon her head.

"There, Pilly dear," he said. "Do not cry, and tell me everything. Look up, child, and see. Your old grandfather is better tonight, and soon he will be quite well again. Are you not glad?"

This made Pilar raise her head. Her grandfather was speaking to her just as he [Pg 161] had done before he had been taken so ill. It was true then that he was much better tonight.

"Tell me what happened," he repeated.

And Pilar poured out her whole story.

"We have had no money, dear Grandfather," she said. "And I have had to sell everything of value—everything out of my mother's chest of souvenirs.

"The castanets were the last to go. Juan had offered to buy them from me for a great dancing master, and today I was on my way to Juan's shop. But I—I—stopped in the Murillo Garden—and—and danced—oh!"

"Go on, Pilly dear," said her grandfather patiently.

"As I was dancing," she continued, "a gentleman came up to me and asked to see the—the castanets. When I showed them to him, he said that he would like to buy [Pg 162] them. He said that he was the dancing master of whom Juan had spoken.

"Oh, Grandfather, he offered me so much money for them, and I—I—"

"What did you do, Pilly?" asked the old man.

"I could not sell them, Grandfather!" sobbed Pilar. "I—I could not! I ran away from him. I ran away!"


[Pg 163]



"Do not cry any more, Pilly," said her grandfather. "You have done no harm by keeping the castanets. Perhaps you have done good. I shall tell you why later on. But first let us have our dinner."

Pilar tried to smile. She brushed away her tears. Her grandfather was actually hungry! Oh, this meant that really and truly he was getting well!

Pilar started toward the kitchen. She had planned such a splendid dinner for tonight, and now they would be obliged to eat beans and drink milk.

If only she could prepare her grandfather's [Pg 164] favorite omelet stuffed with creamed fish, or a bowl of stew, made out of chick-peas, garlic, potatoes, sausage, peppers, and cabbage! But—

What was that white thing lying under the door? Pilar stooped down and picked up a letter. It was postmarked "U.S.A."

Now very few of Pilar's friends would have known what those initials meant. And even if they had been told, many of them would have shrieked with laughter and cried, "Only red Indians live there!"

But Pilar's grandfather had been in America long ago, and, of course, her mother had danced there.

The letter came from Antonio Santaella, and that was Tony—Tony, who had lived in Seville as a boy and was now an important merchant in America. Enclosed in the letter, Pilar found paper bills—money—more [Pg 165] money than Pilar and her grandfather had seen in many years!

Tony wrote that he would always remember Pilar's mother, known as "The Little Spanish Dancer." He also asked Pilar whether she, too, would become a dancer when she grew up.

Pilar's eyes shone.

"Oh, Grandfather!" she cried. "What a kind man Señor Tony is! How much I love him! How I wish to be a dancer like my mother! Shall we have eggs or stew for dinner?" She had said it all in one breath. She rushed to open the door on her way to market, adding, "I shall be right ba—pf-f-f!"

With a terrible thud, Pilar had bumped into a tall gentleman who stood at the door. It was the great dancing master.

"Good evening," he said. "Are you Señorita Pilar?"[Pg 166]


Pilar backed into the room. She looked like a scared little rabbit. What did he want? Had he come to take her castanets?

"Ah, yes, you are the Señorita Pilar," continued the gentleman. He came into the [Pg 167] room, closed the door behind him, and sat down calmly.

"And this, I believe, is señor, your grandfather. No?" He smiled at the old man, who lay quietly in his bed. "You see, I found out all about you, señorita. After you ran away from me in the garden, I made up my mind to follow you, and I did."

Suddenly Pilar's eyes flashed angrily.

"You cannot have the castanets!" she cried.

She was standing in the center of the room, and her face was white with fury. Her small body was drawn up, rigid and tense.

"I'll never let you have them!" she screamed. "They're mine! Mine! Mine!"

She stamped her foot and threw back her head. But the tall gentleman did not seem in the least disturbed. He just sat there [Pg 168] looking at her and smiling as if he were watching a play.

Indeed, one had the impression that he might begin to clap at any moment. But he did not.

Instead, he just laughed good-naturedly and said, "What a little firecracker you are! And how graceful, too! Now, listen, child."

He had stopped smiling. He leaned forward and spoke to Pilar in a serious voice.

"Listen to me, Pilar," he said. "I do not want your castanets if you do not care to sell them to me. But—" He hesitated for a moment while Pilar stared at him, still with that look of anger and fear in her eyes. "But I do want something else!"

Pilar's grandfather raised himself upon his pillow. "What is it that you wish, Señor?" he asked.

"The Little Spanish Dancer!" replied the gentleman. "I want Pilar!"[Pg 169]


Both Pilar and her grandfather started. What was this man talking about?

"I want to take Pilar to my school," he went on, "and teach her. For I believe that some day she will be a wonderful dancer. And I should know, for I have taught some of the best dancers in Spain."

Now Pilar realized who he was. Often she [Pg 170] had passed the window of his dancing school. She had watched the fortunate pupils and listened to the strains of a tango and the clatter of castanets.

Upon the walls of the school were colored posters showing scenes of bullfights. Girls and boys, young and old, stamped their feet and twirled to fiery music.

It had always made Pilar's heart beat faster. She had longed to join them. But lessons were only for wealthy children and—

"But, señor," said Pilar's grandfather, as if he had been reading Pilar's mind, "we have no money to spend on lessons."

"I shall ask no money," replied the dancing master. "No. Our school will some day be proud of Señorita Pilar."

He stood up and put out his hand to the little girl.

"Come tomorrow for your first lesson," he [Pg 171] said. "My brother will instruct you. My brother, you know, is the second greatest dancing master in Spain."

"And who is the first, señor?" asked Pilar's grandfather.

"Why, I am, of course!" answered the tall man proudly, and walked out of the room.

When he had left, there was much rejoicing in the tiny house. Pilar went out and bought a basket full of good things, and they had dinner.

After dinner, they sat together, silent and happy, the old man's wrinkled hand caressing the child's glossy black hair.

Then all at once, in a low, mysterious voice, the grandfather began to recite:

"Castanets, with magic spell,
Never lose or give or sell;
If you do, then grief and strife
Will follow you through all your life."[Pg 172]

When he had told Pilar about the magic castanets and the legends with their strange lessons, she felt a wave of joy sweep through her.[Pg 173]

"Oh, then, it must have been the magic of the castanets that brought us all this good fortune, Grandfather!" she cried.

Her grandfather smiled wisely and shook his head.

"No, Pilly," he said. "Good fortune always comes to those who think good thoughts and who work hard. There is no magic in that."


[Pg 174]

[Pg 175]


Alcazar äl-käthär
Algeciras ăljē̍-sērȧs
Andalucia ändä-lo͞o-thēä
Avila ävē̍-lä
Babieca bä bieca
Barcelona bärsĕ-lōnȧ
Boabdil bōäb-dēl
Burgos bo͞orgōs
Cadiz kădĭz
Castanet kăstȧ-nĕt
Cervantes sẽr-văntēz
Cid sĭd
Cordoba krdō̍-vä
Damascene dămȧ-sēn
Damascus dȧ-măskŭs
Don Quixote dō̍n-kē̍-hōtā̍
El Escorial ĕl ĕs-kōrĭ-ăl
Fiesta fyĕstä
Granada grȧ-nädȧ
Guadalquivir gwdăl-kwĭvẽr
Jerez hā̍-rāth
Juan[Pg 176] hwän
Montserrat mŏntsĕ-răt
Mosque mŏsk
Murillo mū̍-rĭlō
Odyssey ŏdĭ-sĭ
Prado prdō
Pyrenees pĭrē̍ nēz
Rodrigo de Bivar rō̍-drēgō de be-vr
Salamanca sălȧ-măngkȧ
Segovia sā̍-gōvy
Señor sā-nyōr
Señorita sānyō-rēt
Seville sē̍-vĭl
Tagus tāgŭs
Toreador tŏrē̍-ȧ-dr
Torero tō̍-rārō
Tormes trmās
Torre del Or trrā̍ dĕl-ōrō
Valencia vȧ-lĕnshĭ-ȧ
Valladolid vly-thō̍-lēth
Visigoth vĭzĭ-gŏth

EndPaperL EndPaperR

Transcriber's Note: The list of illustrations with their page numbers have been added after the table of contents. Images have been moved from the middle of a paragraph to the closest paragraph break.

End of Project Gutenberg's The Little Spanish Dancer, by Madeline Brandeis


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