a brown lizard on a wall she sat ; then suddenly she
rose and thrust her arms out of the fur and stretched
them up towards Castel-Vittorio.
'' Paese — caro paese mio ! " she cried. "Home —
where all that was good began and ended."
Some little children gathered round her and Paul
beckoned them away. Then Harold Foster, who had
smoked his cigarette and seen as much as pleased him
of the old churches of Pigna, gave the order to return.
"And we must shp along," he said. "This hole
strikes as cold as a vault now the sun's off it. Come,
my old heroine, you shall have a drink of hot wine when
we get back. Now watch your grandson and see what
he can do when we are really in a hurry.
She heard, but heeded not. Her face was turned
up to the hills ; Paul guided her back and both men
gently helped her into the automobile. It began to
throb and tremble ; soon it glided away and the dust
sank and the petrol reek vanished, and a group of
wondering peasants, drawn together by the spectacle,
Like a dream was the coming of Teresa Velliano,
like a dream was her going ; like a dream that sudden.
PILGRIMAGE TO PIGNA 227
tremendous experience sank gently into the old woman's
soul and wakened it for flight. She looked back until
a spur of the mountains rose between Castel-Vittorio
and the way.
" Depart in peace — depart in peace — depart in
peace. Praise the Son of God — praise Him — praise
Him," she repeated to herself under the wolf-fur at the
bottom of the car.
When they returned to Mentone she blessed Mr
Foster for his goodness, and he thanked her heartily for
her kind wishes, gave her a five-franc piece, and advised
her to go and get some hot wine and sit by the fire in
But the next morning, before noon, Paul came
with eyes red-lidded to his master.
" She — the dear old grandmother — she is dead,
signer ! She died in the dawn."
" Died ! Good Lord !— What for ? " asked Mr
" She died as happy as any saint of God. Her life
ended very beautifully as the sun came out of the sea.
She said nothing but ' Home — home ! ' And she
blessed you once again. It is a priceless fortune for
you to be blessed so, signor,"
" Rather ! Fancy popping off like that — poor old
woman ! Blessed if I'm not quite sorry about it. But,
by Jove ! what a lark ! that lets you out, Paul > "
" She must lie at Pigna. I promised."
" She shall — and a rattling good funeral, too. Let
'em do it regardless. None of your rotten tin rubbish
and beads and paper flowers and trash, but a solid bit
of white marble and a cross, and all the rest of it.
228 THE FOLK AFIELD
Damn it ! You can have a statue if you like ! She
was a good sort, your grandmother, Paul ; and it was
jolly sporting of her to go just at the right moment.
Don't spare expense, mind ; then next week we're off.
This is the best thing that's happened to me for years."
THE CUP OF THE CALDERA
A GIRL stood at the mouth of a cave, and the
snow-white cotton of her dress gleamed with
brilHance almost dazzling under the sun's eye against
her dark background. Like an eagle's nest on some
rocky eyrie, only to be approached by winged things,
appeared the strange home of the girl. Seen from afar
it hung a black speck on the terrific acclivities of a
dead volcano ; upon nearer approach it proved not
difficult of access by a narrow and sinuous pathway
which wound over the cinders of mighty fires long
Caldera de Baldama lies in that region of Grand
Canary known as the Monte ; and its enormous cup,
fringed all about with flowing strata, petrified wave on
wave, spread its circumference around the watcher,
where she stood by her home, like a white dove beside
its nest. The prevailing black of the gaunt cliffs,
which represented the mouth of the crater, was much
diversified by the red and yellow of iron deposits.
These brilliant colours flamed along the sombre lips of
the volcano where they bent in a noble sweep ; and
below this complete ring of great andiesser precipices,
wide slopes of pumice or lava detritus converged in
230 THE FOLK AFIELD
gradual declivities to a plain at the bottom of the cup.
These great and gloomy banks lacked not for foliage
and many flowers ; while just beyond the actual spread
of the Caldera there extended mile upon mile of dark,
cinerulent hillsides sacred to the vines. In the cup
itself brilliant pink and scarlet geraniums grew in great
clumps ; giant agaves broke the downward sweep of the
hills, and the prickly-pear spread barriers along the
slopes and ledges. Blue cineraria and crimson poppy
adorned this vast hollow of ashes ; while far below,
where vegetation dwindled in distance to a mere jade-
green mistiness, seen dimly through dancing curtains of
hot air, the bottom of the cup extended in diminutive
squares and rectangles of cultivation. There, fanned
by a breeze which mysteriously circles in the very heart
of the Caldera, appeared a bright green streak of
bananas, a purple patch of sugar-cane stripped for the
cutting, a date-palm or two, red squares of tiled roof,
and sundry small antlike things that were busy men
and women, A golden haze begot of pure sunlight
hung over the volcano, and the bright air pulsed and
reeled to the husky chirrup of a million crickets.
Solitary birds gave forth intermittent and mournful
notes ; sulphur-coloured butterflies danced over the
flowers ; and little hawks, hanging motionless under
the blue, kept their eyes open for mice and lizards-
below. In the air, too, was the gleam and flash of
insects smaller and swifter than the butterflies, the
wings of each emitting their characteristic sound, from
sharp clear trumpet to drowsy hum.
Pepita stood on the threshold of this cavern home,
shaded her blaq^ eyes from the sun, and looked away
up the steep hillside along a path that wound upward like
THE CUP OF THE CALDERA 231
a snake between the clumps of red geranium to the Hp
of the crater. The girl was thirteen, wife-old according
to Canarian standard, and already fast budding into
womanhood. This little maid had been a beauty any-
where. Her dark, transparent skin deepened almost to
the hue of the damask rose when she blushed ; her
mouth was red as wine held against the light ; her eyes
had a peculiarity of Raffael's greatest Madonna, being
rather more than an eye's breadth apart, and thereby
giving to her face some mystery. The physical
accident, however, in no way reflected Pepita's real
character, for she was a very ordinary girl. Her wit
extended to the knowledge of her personal charms, but
The pretty creature had been born and bred within
the cup of the Caldera ; the cave was her nest ; in the
land of the eternal vine she dwelt, nor had she often
wandered beyond the radius of it. Las Palmas she
had heard of as a fabled city by the gates of the sea ;
on fine days she had even beheld it, from the elevations
of the Caldera, stretching along beside the blue waters,
separated therefrom by golden sands and a silver ribbon
of foam ; but the only human colony familiar to her
was the cave village of Atalaya, a mile and a half from
the Caldera. There resided some of her relations, and
Nicholas Perez, the boy whom she loved and meant to
marry presently. At Atalaya the folk all dwelt like
conies in caves and crannies of the uprising rocks. It
was a human warren full of holes and burrows. Some
of the subterranean habitations were faced with stone,
others lacked even door-posts of mason's work ; but
those who dwelt therein were reasonably content, and
the colony accounted itself at once prosperous and im-
232 THE FOLK AFIELD
portant. Pepita had indeed seen dwelling-houses reared
above the earth, yet she believed that comfort might
only be won in a cave. Her home, where she lived
with her grandmother, stretched deep into the under-
world of the hills ; it was never too hot or too cold.
In front of the door, acting as hedge to the narrow
footway which ran before this cavern and others in the
same strata of the cliffs, there rose a mighty clump of
the cochineal cactus, whereon gregarious black and
white spiders flourished. They enveloped the entire
mass in a gauze cowl of fine spinning, and lived each
within her own grey cone. It was a spider city where
every member had a private house.
Pepita crossed and uncrossed her naked brown feet,
sighed, looked at the sun, rearranged her scarlet turban,
and showed impatience in various ways. But while her
eyes were chiefly fixed on the upward road to the regions
outside the crater, she had no ear or attention for the
lower path which extended downward beyond the caves
behind her. Up this, with dry tinkle on the cinders,
came another pair of bare feet — ugly as Pepita's were
beautiful. They belonged to a man, and by the time
the girl turned round he had reached her side.
" Manuel ! "
She showed more surprise than pleasure at his
appearance. For a moment she regarded a parcel
which he carried on his back, then turned again to view
the pathway along which her glances had already been
directed for an hour. The new-comer was a typical
labourer of the vine country. Ridges of thin hair ran
down his jaws and terminated in a beard of a week's
growth, his hair was short, his eyes were black, his
features seemed huddled meanly together, though his
THE CUP OF THE CALDERA 233
mouth was large. The little and third fingers of his
right hand were missing, and those remaining had long
been stained to pickled walnut colour by the juice from
thousands of cigarettes. Tobacco had likewise dis-
coloured his teeth, Manuel Carrasco wore a grey shirt,
a blue coat over it, and white cotton trousers. All were
patched and dirty. Now he set down his parcel, which
emitted a sort of melodious twang as he did so,
then wiped his wet forehead with the sleeve of his
coat, and took a seat upon the stone threshold of the
" Looking for Nicholas Perez, of course } "
" Not so at all. I await my grandmother. She
took the ass and departed to cut agaves at dawn. It
is past noon, and yet she returns not. I grow frightened
" Nobody here then >"
" Only my Uncle Juan."
She pointed where a second cave honeycombed the
precipice. It lay a few yards below her own home, and
still lower, two lesser caverns also appeared, following
the bending strata of the cliff face. In one dwelt the
grey ass which Pepita had mentioned ; the smallest of
all was a fodder store.
Manuel twisted a cigarette and drew the smoke
back from his lungs through his nose. He sighed once
or twice in a theatrical manner, intended for Pepita's
ear ; then he extended himself, supporting his head on
one hand, an action which brought him to the girl's feet.
He looked up from this position, but Pepita's eyes were
still fixed upon distance. Then he raised his brown
hand and stroked her dusty little foot very gently with
it. She started instantly and violently as though a
234 THE FOLK AFIELD
centipede had bitten her ; her eyes flashed and her
small white teeth appeared.
" How dare you ? How dare you touch me ?
Insolent ! "
" I love you."
" How dare you love me ? "
" How can I help it .-' "
" And I hate you."
" To speak without thinking is to shoot without
taking aim. You miss your mark in both cases. You
mean to hurt me. You fail. You do not hate me."
" I do — for touching me."
"Think again. Do you know where I have come from ?"
" No, and I care not."
" From Las Palmas. See, a new bollo for Pepita."
Manuel had not been to Las Palmas or near it — for
sufficient reasons ; but he had communicated with a
friend bound thither, and that personage had brought from
town this musical instrument, the guitar of the country.
" 'Twas a kindly thought, but I shall never learn to
play it. I have not brains enough," said Pepita, molli-
fied somewhat, as she watched him tune the bollo and
take a plectrum of tortoiseshell from his pocket.
" You will learn like magic."
Then Manuel played and sang. He had a good
voice and produced it with some art and effect. These
were his familiar words, but to Pepita Aldonza the song
was new : — -
•' Relentless tyrant of my heart,
Attend and hear thy slave impart
The matchless story of his pain.
In vain I labour to conceal
What my extorted groans reveal :
Who can be racked and not complain ?
THE CUP OF THE CALDERA 235
" But, oh ! who duly can express
Thy cruelty and my distress ?
No human heart, no human tongue.
Then friends assist and rage infuse !
A raving fury be my muse,
And Pluto teach the dismal song."
Manuel fully designed to complete the Despairing
Lover's verses, but he stopped and first asked a
" Nicholas Perez cannot sing like that, nor play
neither .> "
" He plays on nothing."
" Nothing but you."
" I will not speak of him to-day. We have
" For the pleasure of making it up again. To-
night we shall do so. He has waited four nights and
I have not come."
" On the edge of the vines at the crater-lip yonder .'' "
" That is our business."
" At the usual hour .? "
" That is our business. Play to me again, and I
will bring some red wine."
"Red as your lips, Pepita."
" But sweeter."
" By God, not so ! "
She departed and brought from a recess within the
cavern a little cut-glass bottle of wine and an earthen
mug. He poured the drink into it and held it out to
her ; whereupon she touched it with her lips and handed
it to him. He drank the rough liquor at a draught,
then played and sang again.
236 THE FOLK AFIELD
" You will keep the bollo, Pepita ? "
" I will ask Nicholas when our quarrel is wholly
healed and forgotten. We parted with hard words."
" I was the cause of it. You fear to keep the
" Lovers are jealous. He heard you singing here
three nights agone."
" Let him hear two hollos henceforth ; thine and
Manuel twisted another cigarette.
" I will ask him to-night,"
" Why .-* What right has this carpenter and son of
a carpenter to come between you and the music you
love .? "
" He has a strange temper,"
" He will make you an old woman very quickly
with his temper,"
The subject was dropped at this point, for Grand-
mother Aldonza at last appeared riding down the steep
slope. Balancing her on the donkey was a pannier full
of the inner hearts of the agaves. Uncle Juan came
out of his hole and whined for dinner at the same
moment. He was a bent, wrinkled man, blind of one
eye. His hair was grey ; silvery bristles sprinkled his
chin and cheeks ; under his soft felt hat he wore a
yellow handkerchief. Pepita helped her grandmother
off the donkey, exclaimed at the splendid size of the
agave hearts, then gave the ass into Uncle Juan's keep-
ing, and busied herself with the midday meal. Manuel
loitered awhile, but nobody asked him to stay, so he
departed, after directing Pepita to lower the bollo strings
for fear they should break. Grandmother Aldonza — a
shrivelled woman of seventy who looked a hundred —
THE CUP OF THE CALDERA 237
was wearied with exceptional labour, but happy by reason
of unusual success. Of the agave leaves is made a flax
cultivated in the Grand Canary and elsewhere. It
quickly bleaches to a snowy whiteness in sunshine ;
and our cave-dwellers looked to this manufacture as
an important means of livelihood, especially for women.
They sought the agaves at a venture on the wild hill-
sides. The men worked in the vineyards for the most
part ; but at this spring season of the year the vines were
only just twinkling into bud, and nothing much was
doing. No right Spaniard ever neglects an opportunity
to do nothing.
" Fine agaves truly ; and a fine dance they led me.
Tis an upland spot unvisited these many days. But I
can find my way there again, I think," said the old
" Did you pass Atalaya or see Nicholas .-' "
" Neither one nor other. Leave thinking of the
boy while there is time. Here is Manuel Carrasco sick
for you — a man not fair to see, indeed, yet with a voice
like an angel's. I note, too, that he hath left a present.
Could Nicholas with all a month's wages have purchased
that ? "
" Truly, as you say, grandmother, Manuel is not
fair to see," answered Pepita, ignoring alike the allusions
to her lover's poverty and Carrasco's genius.
MEANWHILE the bollo-player slouched down to
the bottom of the crater-cup where, at present,
he worked for a fruit-farmer who dwelt there. Manuel
was a stranger to the Monte, and had not dwelt in the
wine regions above six months. In an evil moment for
Pepita the man saw her and fell in love with her. His
music, in truth, attracted the girl, but her heart had
long gone out to Nicholas, the young carpenter.
On that downward road, Manuel considered the
recent conversation and the black quarrel which for four
nights had separated these lovers. It seemed a pity
that present conditions so favourable to him could not
be maintained. He loved Pepita's beautiful body ; he
loved Grandmother Aldonza's cave still better. That
would fall to Pepita's lot upon the death of the old
woman ; and the musician pictured himself as living
very comfortably in its cool recesses.
Meanwhile, for four consecutive nights, Nicholas
Perez had taken his station at the familiar trysting spot
on the lip of the Caldera. In person he resembled one
of Murillo's beggar boys, and was a handsome, fiery-
tempered youth, with very honest love for Pepita.
Already he mourned the outburst which had separated
them ; already he regretted his sharp criticism of Manuel
as one only six months old at the Monte, and of whose
previous career no man could say good or ill. He was
jealous of the musician for his music, nothing else.
THE CUP OF THE CALDERA 239
Now Pepita had watched him secretly three nights out
of the four, and feeHng his punishment was as heavy as
he might be expected to bear, she determined to rejoin
him on the fifth night at the usual time and place.
Ignorant of the near approach of his goddess,
Nicholas left the burrows of the Atalaya twinkling in
the darkness of the fifth night like a constellation of red
stars on the shoulder of the mountain. Chimneys there
are none in the cave village, and cooking is accomplished
at little stoves which send red firelight dancing along
the winding paths and flights of steps, illuminate the
whitewashed portals, and flash into the rocky cave
chambers. Nicholas, the happier for a supper of two
baked potatoes with white bread and a fish soaked in
oil, started upon his way past the parties seated about
the stoves or gathered round the little kiln in the midst
of Atalaya, where pottery of rude sort is manufactured
by day and the folk bake their meats in the glowing
oven when work is done. Silent, hairy men drank and
smoked ; brown women chattered and chaffed ; children
frolicked, screamed and babbled everywhere.
" Pepita ! " was the name on many tongues as
Nicholas threaded his way through the village. He
smiled at the allusions to his lady, but gave no one to
understand the serious estrangement. Then in the
moonlight he sat down for a two hours' tryst above
the wine lands at the brim of the crater. The trail-
ing vines curved and jagged over the sloping hills in
grey network. Them the silver light defined clearly,
but the splashes of red poppy which adorned the vine-
lands in sunshine were robbed by the moon of all their
colour, and, like the scarlet geraniums, they appeared a
strange, unearthly hue, born of the night.
240 THE FOLK AFIELD
After several cigarettes, the boy rose and went a
little way into the Caldera, The northern side of the
great crater lay bathed in silver ; its bottom was hidden
by enormous shadows, the lava ash twinkled and sparkled,
and the path Pepita's feet had so often trodden wound
downwards through silver to darkness. It was yet early
for her coming, but something white glimmered along
the way, and Nicholas, with a quickened heart-beat, stole
back to the usual meeting-place and waited. In five or
six minutes the soft rustle and tinkle of the pumice
spoke of naked feet. Whereupon the lover turned and
found himself face to face with Manuel Carrasco.
" Don't start as though I were poisonous ! I bring
news for you."
" I want neither your news nor your company."
Manuel eyed the powerful youth, and licked his lips
as though reluctant to part with some precious intelli-
" I come from Pepita."
" She was hard put to it for a messenger."
"She has changed her mind."
" I am glad."
"And changed it yet again."
" She is a woman."
" And you're a man. Therefore bear the blow I
must deal you. I pleaded against being made her
messenger, but she commanded it in order that her
final resolve should appear to you the clearer. She
says that you need waste your time here no more. At
your last meeting with her you said hard things, cruel
things. A girl is not marble to forget black words as
though they had never been uttered. She will never
see your face again."
THE CUP OF THE CALDERA 241
" And sent you to tell me so ? "
"True. As it is, I have bated something of the
bitterness of her message in the giving of it."
" This is your devil's work, lying dog, that have
barked your cursed self into her poor fool's heart ! "
" I have not influenced her."
" You lie, I say. You have set to work in cold
blood to rob me ; and you have succeeded so far."
"Your own evil temper and passions robbed you."
" And you take the place from which I am thrust
out > "
" We need not discuss that."
" By our Lady, but we need ! And we shall — not
with words either ! "
He whipped out the long, triangular knife that
Canarian artisans carry in a sheath under their left arm-
pit. Manuel made a gesture, as though about to arm
himself in a similar manner, but put his hand down and
" As you please, and when you will ; but not now.
An angry man is easy to kill. To-morrow, on the
Ledge, where Atalaya people are wont to settle their
differences, we will meet. There shines a full moon, so
that he who takes the leap shall not lack light to see his
Manuel was a famous knife-fighter, and had killed
his man at Las Palmas — a fact quite unknown to
Nicholas. Nor would the knowledge have cooled the
lad's determination before this crushing blow. Nicholas
and Pepita had parted in red-hot anger about Manuel,
and it seemed natural, and a thing to be expected of a
woman, that she should thus use the man to banish her
old love for ever. Nicholas was wholly deceived, there-
242 THE FOLK AFIELD
fore, and already tottered on that precipice of hate which
falls every way from love's altitudes.
"To-morrow, on the Ledge then."
" Consider ; 'tis a long, ugly tumble, and few men
ever get up again and walk away after it."
" I need no warning from you. My arm is as long
as yours, my eye as bright. You will fight seeking to
save your life ; 1 shall fight knowing my life is nothing.
So I shall live and you will die."
" Guerra al cuchillo ! — War without end between us."
" Even so, while I have life left to hate you and
strength to injure."
Manuel turned away towards the Caldera, and
Nicholas sat down upon a stone with his face in his
hands. Presently he raised his head and shook it, then
handled his knife idly, this way and that, so as to catch
the round reflection of the moon upon its shining blade.
He thought for a full hour of what must happen on the
following night. He forgot the question of skill, and
believed his greater weight and strength would give him
victory. Sometimes women hid themselves near the
Ledge when an encounter vital to their interests took
place upon it, as a hen bird will watch the battle of two
cocks. He felt his knife. Perhaps to-morrow would
give both man and woman into his hand. To leave him
for this yellow, mongrel brute, half Spaniard, half God
knew what ! He could not forgive that. He had
suffered patiently long enough. She had dropped the
gall of cruelty into his cup of love too often. Nicholas
talked and gesticulated to himself in the moonlight for
an hour. Then he got up, leaden-footed with the
weight of mountains in his heart, and departed where
he dwelt. The red lights of Atalaya were extinguished,
THE CUP OF THE CALDERA 248
and the place lay silent and asleep. Moonlight glimmered
over the whitewash of the portals ; a dog howled ; here
and there the murmur of voices or the wail of a babe
broke the great silence.
Meanwhile Manuel Carrasco, calculating the time
with admirable exactness, was half-way back along the