A raucous and arcane larynx expelled gigantic ballads: “If they don’t open, I’ll kick the door!”

Could it be one of the tubes of the Apocalypse? Alberto wondered, between dreams. A nervous jolt ran down his spine. Woke up. With the back of his hands he rubbed his beady eyes. He was on his knees in the middle of the bed, his buttocks resting on his heels, dressed in an old raw silk pajamas that had a large rip in the back. The fever was running through him; the expression on his face was sickly.

The walls shook. At the door of the house you could hear tenacious thumps, as if they were trying to force it with a battering ram.

“If they don’t open, I’ll knock down the door!” They howled.

-I go! Alberto answered, as loud as he could.

p. 82He jumped to the ground and went to step on a glass cup, smashed, hurting himself painfully in the foot, from which blood began to flow in great copy. Without paying attention to the accident, he hurried to the door, and when he opened it he found himself in front of an obese and congested man, victim, by all traces, of fatal anger. The man wore a long denim smock, the color of chick pea; the stupid head, in the air; the piggy little mustache, convulsed. Seeing Alberto, the man put down his anger somewhat.

“What did you want?”

—You excuse me, senorito; it wasn’t for you. Are you Don Ángel de los Ríos?

-No, it’s not.

“I already had that.” And no one makes fun of me. ”He seemed to be furious again, but, unexpectedly, he calmed down. Excuse me … But this morning, because I have already come this morning, the bell rang and now it does not ring. See if he was not going to call kicking.

“In short,” Alberto said impatiently, “that Don Ángel is not here, what do you want?”

“If you do me a favor … tell you for me that wherever I find you I will break your soul.” And since Alberto did not respond, he continued, “No one is making fun of me!” You see, sir. I am a shoe store officer. I do not know, thus knowing de visu , what is said, that Don Ángel. Well, this morning the principal sent me with the bill of six pairs of boots and shoes, American last, that there is no Christ to make him pay; and I pull on the bell cord, and a very big man, dark, with a beard comes to open me, in his underwear, and I go, I said to him, I say: “Is Don Ángel, etcetera?” And he goes and says to me: «He’s not here, but around twelve he will be sure; you come back ». So, I go to the shoe store, and I tell the teacher the thing as it was, top. 83what the teacher calls me panoli and that it was Don Ángel etcetera himself who had opened it, and that if the undersigned Don Ángel was a gulf with no ears and I an inflapavas, like this, and what so and what, and that when he returned he would not would find at home, as has been verified. Which nobody makes fun of me, and if you do me the favor of telling you that I am going to break your soul, then, thank you so much, young man.

The man, evidently satisfied with his eloquence, lowered his eyes, as if receiving the tribute of the public, and then he saw that the blood was pooling on the floor.

“You are injured!”

“So it seems.” Alberto slammed the door, ending the interview.

Alberto Díaz de Guzmán had come to Madrid with fifteen thousand pesetas in his pocket, all his wealth, and in the hope that this sum would provide for at least three years [2] . He considered such time more than enough to create a good name in literature, and in the shadow of the name a secure position that would allow him to marry and live in a country house, away from men. Before the earth completed its annual revolution around the sun, Alberto had run out of money, without knowing how. Renown, if any, was rare, and only among literati. Returns, none, as it were not the paltry remuneration of one or another item, very from time to time. His character was sedentary, dreamy and indifferent; his was not a pedestrian spirit, because he was missing both feetp. 84with which the spirit goes out into the world to undertake and complete actions: it lacked hope and ambition. Alas, he didn’t have them either, because Alberto had cut them off. He aspired to mediocrity , in the classic sense of moderation and measure. The much love and pain of his youth had worn out his self .

[2] The Leg of the Fox. Novel.

One day, penniless and with some debts already, Alberto ran into Angelón on the street. They started walking together. They were countrymen and very friends, with that friendship in which affection is joined by mutual admiration for different qualities, so that there can be no clash or rivalry of conduct. These friendships are by nature suitable for longevity, because in them there is no room for emulation or envy, but a reciprocal pride and reflection of the qualities that each one lacks and the other possesses, which manifests itself in a way of continuous performance. of tacit admiration, the most temperate spiritual atmosphere and on purpose so that within it affection grows and grows stronger. Such, in a larger sphere, are the friendships of intelligence with force, art with money, science with religion, philosophy with arms.

Between Alberto Díaz de Guzmán and Angelón Ríos there was an age difference of more than twenty years. Alberto was not strong. Angel, robust, huge; under his brown skin, of baked earth, a stream of rich jovial blood was present in circulation. Alberto was young in years and old in temperament. Angelón, even though he was in the eleventh five years of his life, was enthusiastic as a teenager. He had prematurely lost the gift of laughter; he had not yet acquired the smile. Ríos, a great fan of romanticism to the arts and of mind, if uneducated, very awake, admired in Alberto thep. 85sensitivity and the virtue of thinking sharply. Alberto admired many qualities in Angelón: joy, which in him was like an organic secretion; his wonderful physical constitution, which allowed him, at the age of fifty-two, to love a woman daily and even many times, no matter how ugly and corrupt she might be, when there was nothing else at hand; his own lack of culture and clear discourse, thanks to which, rid of all prejudice, he managed to find the clearest practical notions, for example about politics, in which he actively militated; the absolute absence of an inner sense with which to notice differences between moral and immoralAn absence that, by a rare paradox, had harmed him in his career, which had begun with great success; and, notably, his aggressiveness in difficult situations, his character as a genuine man of action, that is, fundamentally good: he loved the world and life for being both fertile in obstacles.

That day, shortly after meeting, Alberto reported his troubles to Angelón. He came instantly with the remedy, and his sentences were so optimistic that it seemed only that he had initiated his friend into the secret of transmuting metals.

“You are coming to my house today.”

“And fixed everything?” Alberto asked, who knew Angelón’s financial shortage.


-How much money do you have?

Angelón reached into his waistcoat pocket and drew out a great profusion of coins, almost all of them copper. He took a quick balance and expressed the resulting figure with some dismay:

“Sixteen pesetas and ninety cents.”

Alberto smiled.

-Bah! Rios added, straightening up. Tomorrow we will have money, and if not, the day after tomorrow.

p. 86Ríos considered it so absurd to doubt the daily advent of money through postulatory or random paths, as that the sun must rise every morning at the time the wall almanacs place it. Added:

“Why don’t you write articles?”

—I write them; but it annoys me to send them without being asked.

“You don’t have any chicha at all.” I will place them.

Ríos accompanied Alberto to the hotel where he was staying; They required a porter to move Guzmán’s suitcases to the new address, and that night Alberto slept at Angelón’s house. This was a second floor on Calle de Fuencarral, loose and well ventilated. It was like when Angelón lived in it with his entire family, bourgeois-like; but with better sense and good taste than what is used in the domestic installations of the Spanish middle class. There were paintings and sculptures of some merit: porcelain, furniture, and valuable stews, which the owner had not wanted to part with even in times of greatest financial distress.

Angelón had a wife, married children and other marriageable people who lived in Pilares. Ríos’s exuberant physical nature and his prodigious freshness pushed him into habitual commerce with gallant ladies. This did not prevent him from venerating his wife and loving her with solicitous love, honest so to speak. Family affections were deeply ingrained in him, and he liked to treat his children as brothers or comrades. The woman paid him with almost maternal affection, she understood him and therefore had plenty of indulgence to excuse, and sometimes even celebrate, those devils and skulls that at every step they came to give her a succinct and melodramatic account of relatives and friends, under the pretext of pitying her. . But as thep. 87 The fortune of the head of the family would be very less and some rich relatives had spontaneously contracted the commitment to help her, angry these with the disorders of Angelón, imposed a kind of discreet and private divorce, in such a way that Angelón would ban them on his own and risk in Madrid, exiled from home, and they retained the unmarried wife and children in Pilares.

From time to time, Ríos would make a trip to Pilares, and he and his wife would secretly hold interviews, like two adulterers or two boyfriends whom the family contravened in love. And since the Madrid apartment was paid for, this was the reason why it was housed in the tycoon.

Angelón administered its activity according to immutable canons. Their struggle for existence unfolded in various forms of strategic art: defense, siege, assault, and loot. The morning hours were hard hours on the defensive, during which Angelón dodged, mocked, repelled or stipulated truces and armistices with the innumerable creditors who continually had him under siege. He lived alone and without servitude; the cleaning of the apartment was in charge of the concierge. From half past eight in the morning the phalanx of creditors or their emissaries had been standing at the door of the house, most of them with very bad intentions, who only wanted to deal with Angelon personally and bruise his ribs. The knocker and the bell cord did not rest a point. Angelón could not sleep, and in order not to lose the pleasant morning rest, he decided to unscrew the knocker and impregnate the cavity of the bell with rags and papers. Then the angry creditors stabbed at the door. Ríos had to renounce the antemeridian dream. He would get up between seven and eight and before the creditors’ vanguards arose, he was already on the street.

p. 88In the afternoon, between lunch and dinner, it was the political hours, and its strategic modality, the site. Angelón immersed himself in the Congress, and there, from group to group, shouting and laughing out loud, that this was his natural way of producing himself, he discussed in vacuum , as is always done in that place, about oratorical or bureaucratic trifles, or he worked With intrigues and conspiracies for the return to power of his party, and having conquered power, he laid siege to Zancajo, the President of the Council, asking him for a high position as a just reward for his political loyalty.

After dinner came the occasion of the assault and the booty; erotic hours dedicated to hunting women. Theaters, cafes, the dark, open space of the street: everything was a hunting ground for women. In audacity to look them squarely and unequivocally in the eyes, or to slip a piece of paper in their hands, if the woman had stately traits and was accompanied by a gentleman, or to approach them if they were going alone, no one was better than Angelón . He never retired home without a companion with which to dress his bed and the night. Madrid nocharniego is an open-air market or fish market, where, although damaged, love goods show a rare abundance for all tastes and pockets. But Ríos tried to choose the best of the good, because, in the end, he did not pay for the favors he received. Ordinarily he did not pay his flying lovers, And not out of stinginess, but because he didn’t have what. When he was in funds, he was very liberal: he would take his friend, whoever was at the time, to one of those emporiums and shops on Atocha street, notable for the modicity of the clothing accessories that are sold in them, and there the he provided coats, clay skirts, boas, muffs and other luxurious garments, until he was ruined for a few days. As Angelón wore elep. 89Gancia, her clothes were rich, and her size was gentle, both attractive of her person and imposing of gesture, when approaching a courtesan woman on the street she welcomed him with poorly concealed enthusiasm, presuming that a good business was being presented to her. Then Ríos did not mind the money at all, which seemed to the woman a very happy augury of alleged magnanimities.

“Let’s go to my house,” Angelón ordered.

“As you like,” replied the woman, trembling with joy.

Already on the floor, Angelón, like reluctantly and without purpose, was showing his brand-new friend objects of art and rare furniture. The woman’s jaw dropped. Perhaps he resolved to inquire:

“But is this all yours?”

Ríos answered yes with his head.

-And you live alone?

“Alone, unless you want to live with me.”

And the courtesan, licking her lips, thought: This guy is for me. What a leg I have had. ”

The next morning Ríos would murmur indifferently:

“Get dressed quickly, I have to go out,” and he led her to the bathroom. Then he would put her at the door, not before having summoned her for the coming night.

Once alone, the woman made these considerations: «He has not spoken to me about money. He will think of giving me a good gift. Let’s not compromise with impatience. This guy is caught by me. ” And she ran wildly to arouse the envy of her friends and fellow men, telling them of the singular fortune she had had. It was not uncommon for some of the litter, instead of being saddened by the good of others, burst out laughing sarcastically.

“What are you laughing at, you fetid?” If it bites you, crawl.

p. 90-Yes Yes; Well, you have managed a bibelote. With that very high, and very large, and in the street of Fuencarral …

“Little horse, so what?”

-And that? That you have done the night. The greatest miquero of Madrid and its outskirts.

Miquero means one who mocks women, failing to pay the due stipend.

If that was the case, the woman did not attend the night’s appointment. If the woman had no one to open her eyes, she would return, promising herself a good gift for the next day and in the safety of hunting that uncle , until after eight days Angelón got tired of her and she had lost all hope, and He then disappeared from the visible horizon, giving himself to all the devils and without having dared to recriminate Angelón, who was imposing.

Ríos’s love affairs were not all of such low lineage. Angelón swore to have aroused many great passions among ladies of high status. “To make women fall in love,” he said, “there is but a tug of war of brutality and humility, of enthusiasm and disdain, and there is none to resist. Everything is a matter of school, and my school in this, as in the rest of life, has not been books, but nature. Of all the animals the most tenorio is the pigeon. The hours that I spent, in my house in Landeño, sitting next to the dovecote … The dove has two movements, two unique isochronous movements, perfectly opposite: it plumps up, straightens, becomes stiff and very insolent; then he humiliates himself and drags his boiling crop on the ground, pleading. And there is no more than this: first, make them see that man is everything, tyrannize them; second, to pretend that one is nothing, to submit to them momentarily. Without the first movement, the second has no value, and the first without the second does not give results. ” In his hits he was elep. 91I mention his virile good looks and his sallow face of an Arab transcript, and above all that he did not take into account the human personality, but only sex; he could not have friends, but lovers, and each female, successively, was for him all females.