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he was of the meaner sort, fertile in resource in planning
his small crimes, and relying more on eflErontery than
bravery to avoid capture. His victims were almost
exclusively poor charcoal-burners, or atrieros returning
from the town with their hard-earned gains — three or four
to twenty dollars, received for weeks of toilsome labour —
the very class whom Vizco el Borje subsidized, and by
judicious generosity made subservient to his more exalted
schemes. Thus the very men who, nolens volens, became
allies and satellites of Yizco, were Agua-Dulce's habitual
victims and bitterest enemies.

It is from the Ups of Antonio Sanchez, formerly of the
Municipal Guard of Jerez de la Frontera, and now retired
on pension, that we have the following account of the
career and death of the miscreant known as Agua-Dulce.
Sanchez was, moreover, the man who slew him.

Agua-Dulce was suspected of having various accom-
plices : his favourite defence was to prove an alihiy and
his success in throwing the authorities off the scent by
this means pointed to combinations which were not visible
on the surface. At the hour when the particular robbery
with which he was charged had been committed,Agua-Dulce
showed that he was in the town and had saluted this or
that functionary. And these latter were always ready to
support his defence as witnesses. Among other unacknow-
ledged alliances, Agua-Dulce was reputed to enjoy the



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BRIGANDAGE IN SPAIN. 125

protection of a certain magistrate of influential position
in Seville, who was stated to be *on terms of intimacy
with his sister, a woman of remarkable beauty.

The following occurrence, which refers to, perhaps, the
only robbery of magnitude carried out by Agua-Dulce, was
cited by Sanchez in proof of the above report. A sum
representing nearly six hundred pounds, all, curiously
enough, in the smallest gold coin, had been taken from
Don Juan Malvido of Jerez. A few days later, Agua-Dulce
was discovered in a wine-shop of the Calle Cruz Vieja,
dividing with two other men a large quantity of these
same small gold coins. He was arrested and imprisoned.
The judge at that time was one Alvarez, who was,
however, absent from his post on account of illness ; the
interim authority being Don Juan Cerron, a man of
upright and intrepid principle, who believed that now
sufficient evidence was forthcoming to bring home to the
villain his crime, and secure at length the condign punish-
ment he had so often deserved. When the prisoner was
asked to explain how he became possessed of so much
small gold, he replied it was the proceeds of a certain
business he had just effected in Seville. For the purpose
of ascertaining the truth of this, the judge commissioned
an inquiry (ptiso un exlwrto) to be made at Seville. The
reply was a demand for the prisoner's presence in that
city — doubtless to learn from Agua-Dulce's lips how the
exhorto could be answered favourably to his cause !

The Jerez deputy-judge roundly refused to allow this.
Then it was that the invalid judge was ordered — no matter
what the state of his health — ^to return at once to his post.
Though seriously ill, he complied with the request, and
next morning from the Magisterial chair ruled that Agua-
Dulce should be sent to Seville. A few days later the
reply to the exhorto arrived — in terms entirely favourable
to the prisoner, and no doubt inspired by him. No charge
could now be sustained. The papers were sealed up, and
Agua-Dulce once more set at liberty, the small gold coins,
which every one was morally certain had proceeded from
the Malvido robbery, being returned to him.



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126 WILD SPAIN,

For some years after this Agua-Dulce continued his
course of petty robbery and outrage without especial
incident, but with increasing audacity and immunity.
Of a lady named Yarela he had demanded three thousand
dollars under threat of destroying the valuable stock of
mares upon her farm of Vicos. Of Don Antonio Diaz, of
Patema, he had requisitioned a thousand dollars under
similar terms : and a large number of donkeys belonging
to Don Jose Calero, also of Paterna, who had refused his
extortions, were found with their throats cut. Lastly,
from a farm-steward at Bomanina he had taken a small
sum of money, his gun, and cartridge-belt. The authori-
ties in this last (minor) case had clear evidence against
Agua-Dulce and were keenly on his track.

The crimes of the miscreant (all these having occurred
within a few days) were thus assuming alarming propor-
tions, and two amongst the Municipal Guard of Jerez swore
they would put an end to him. On the 23rd of May these two,
Antonio Sanchez and Jose Salado, were returning towards
Jerez after several days of fruitless search, when, passing
the ford of the Alamillo (a preserve belonging to the Duke
of San Lorenzo), a woman informed them that Agua-
Dulce had been at work only an hour or two before, and
had taken all he possessed from a poor carbonero. This
decided them to remain in the neighbourhood, and shortly
afterwards, while riding through the coverts of El Espinar,
they observed two men, armed with guns, running between
the trees. '

The mounted guards gave chase, overhauled the men,
and demanded their surrender. The reply was prompt —
a couple of shots : meeting the simultaneous fire of the
guards. No sooner, however, had the latter fired than
Salado fell dead from his horse, for Agua-Dulce's bullet had
gone true. Sanchez leaped from his saddle and, seeing
that one robber was done for, went for the other, whom
he now recognized as Agua-Dulce. A hand-to-hand
struggle was imminent, but the bandit availed himself of
the thick lentisk-covert, and contrived to put some distance
between himself and his assailant. Both knew it was a



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BRIGANDAGE IN SPAIN. 127

duel to the death. Second shots were exchanged, and
this time Agua-Dulce was wounded. Sanchez again
called on him to surrender, but again the reply was a
bullet, which narrowly missed a vital spot. A second ball
now struck the robber in the side, bringing him to the
ground. While Sanchez reloaded, the wounded desperado
managed again to rise to his feet and drew a pistol from his
belt : but he was just not quick enough, and ere he could
aim, a bullet from Sanchez's barrel had perforated him
from chest to shoulder.



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128 WILD SPAIN.



CHAPTEE XI.

THE SPANISH IBEX.

NOTES ON ITS NATURAL HISTORY, HAUNTS, HABITS, AND
DISTRIBUTION.

The ibex, or wild goat, has a wide range throughout the
Alpine regions of the old world : and wherever it is found,
from Spain to the Himalayas, takes a chief place amongst
the beasts of chase. Few pictures, indeed, does the
animal-world present more perfect than an old ibex-ram,*
with his thick-set, game-like form, his hoary coat and
flowing beard, and those massive, widely-curving horns —
no trophy more dear to the big-game sportsman, and few
so hard to secure.

The Spanish Peninsula can boast an ibex peculiar to
itself, a noble beast not to be found elsewhere than on
Iberian soil. Till recently, we shared the opinion that two
forms of ibex existed in Spain — the Pyrenean type, and
the slightly divergent Capra hispanica of the southern
sierras : but further experience and a comparison of heads
from various points, have convinced us that (except in the
matter of size) there is no material difference between the
Spanish races of wild goats. No difference, that is,
greater than might naturally be looked for as between
isolated colonies, separated one from another during
centuries— for the ibex of Nevada or of Gredos is as
effectually divided from his kind in the Pyrenees as
though wide oceans rolled between.

* The English language provides no word specially to designate a
male goat. We have, therefore, fallen back on the word ram, which,
though not strictly accurate, is the nearest available term.



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THE SPANISH IBEX. 129

Differences in habits, haunts, and food are well known
to produce, during extended periods, corresponding differ-
ences in form : but so far as we are able to judge, the only
material variation between the so-called Capra pyrenaica,
of the north, and the C. hispanica, of Southern and
Central Spain, is that of size. The Pyrenean ibex is a
larger animal : but the horns are almost, though not quite,
identical in form with those from the Sierra Nevada* : while
both differ most materially from the well-known horns of
the typical ibex, the Capra ibex of the Alps and of Central
Europe.

These differences will be seen at a glance in the photo-
graphs and rough sketches we annex. Briefly, the horns
of the true ibex bend regularly backwards and downwards
in a more or less uniform, scimitar-like curve : while those
of all Spanish goats, after first diverging laterally, become
re-curved both inwards and finally upwards. That is,
while in the one case the horns present a simple circular
bend, in the Spanish ibex they form almost a spiral.!

A minor point of difference consists in the form of the
annular notches, or rings. These in the Alpine ibex run
more or less straight around, encircling the horn in front
roughly like steps in a ladder : while in Capra hispanica
they run obliquely in a spiral ascent. These annulations
indicate the age of the animal — one notch to each year : but
the count must stop where the spiral ends. Beyond that,
there is always the lightly-grooved tip which does not alter.

The horns of the female ibex are weak and compara-
tively short — only some six or seven inches in length, not
unlike those of the chamois, but not so sharply hooked.
These do ^wt grow annually : hence there is not the ready
index of age afforded by the horns of the rams. It is,
perhaps, unnecessary to add that the horns of goats are
permanent, and not cast yearly as is the case with deer,

♦ Horns from Nevada are thinner, more compressed laterally, and
the ridges show the spiral cm^es less distinctly. It is, after all, the
old question of what constitutes a species.

t The horns of the Spanish ibex rather resemble those of the
bnrrell, or wild sheep of the Caucasus, &c., than typical ibex-horns.

K



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130 WILD SPAIN.

The following are the maximum dimensions of the heads
of male ibex, measured by the authors — all from the
central and south-Spanish sierras.



Ago.


Length.


Sweep.


Circumference.


1. Five years


... 18iin. .


lliin.


... 9J in.


2. Eight „


... 27i „ .


. 28 „


... 9 „


3. ,1 M


... 28i„ .


. 19 „


8J „


4- 91 11


... 29 „ ..


. m ..


... 9 „


5. Aged


... 29 „ .


. 22i„


... 9i „


6. „ ...


... 29i„ .


.. 28i „


... H ..



Through the kindness of the late Sir Victor Brooke, we
are also enabled to give the following measurements of
his three best Pyrenean ibex heads.





Length.


Sweep.


Circumference.


A. ...


26 in. ..


. 21 in.


... 10 in.


B


29 ;, ..


. 28 „


... 10 „


C


31 „ ..


. 26i„


... 8J „



Sir Victor Brooke wrote : — " A. This was a very grand
old ibex : but the points were broken and his horns rubbed
smooth with age. The Pyrenean ibex are much larger
beasts than those from the southern sierras."

The natural home of the ibex may be defined as
exclusively amidst the summits of the wildest rock-moun-
tains and most alpine spots upon earth — subject, how-
ever, to such, apparently accidental, variations of this
general rule, as will be found hereinafter mentioned. Here
their hollowed hoofs and marvellous agility enable them to
traverse, at full speed, ice, crag, and precipice that seem
absolutely impassable, and to mount rock- walls where no
visible foothold exists, throwing into heart-breaking in-
significance our puny efforts to encompass them. If a
man's heart swells with the pride of strength — ^if he
flatters himself that he is master of all the beasts of the
field and of the arts of field-craft, let him try a campaign
with the wild-goats — verily there is no sublunar under-
taking better calculated to take the conceit out of him.
Mere figures give but a poor idea: to say that the
favourite haunts of ibex lie at altitudes of 8,000 to 10,000
feet, is hardly any real criterion of the difficulties and



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132 WILD SPAIN.

intervening plains. They inhabit all the Pyrenees* and
are comparatively numerous on the hills round Andorra
(Pyrenees orientales). In the south their great strong-
holds are the Sierras Nevada and Morena, where herds
of twenty, thirty, or even fifty, may sometimes be seen
together. Besides these main southern haunts, the ibex
have several detached colonies in the hill-ranges of
Andalucia and Estremadura. Along all the elevated
Cordillera of Central Spain, the ibex find a congenial
home : but their chosen stronghold is in the extensive
Sierra de Gredos. This elevated point is the apex of the
long Carpeto-Vetonico range which extends from Moncayo
through the Castiles and Estremadura, forming the
watershed of the Tagus and Douro ; it separates the two
Castiles, and passing the frontier of Portugal, is there
known as the Serra da Estrella, which (with the Cintra
hills) extends to the Atlantic seaboard. Along all this
extensive cordillera there is no more favourite ground for the
ibex than its highest peak, the Plaza de Almanzor, 10,000
feet above sea-level. During the winter and early spring
the wild goats have a predilection for the southern slopes
towards Estremadura : but in summer and autumn large
herds, often numbering dozens, and especially the noble
rams, make their home in the environs of Almanzor and
the lonely alpine lakes of Gredos.

Our personal experiences of the Spanish ibex are limited
to four points — two in the southern sierras, and two on the
central cordillera : in three of which the habits of the goats
exhibited some very remarkable variations. These, how-
ever, we describe more particularly when treating of ibex-
shooting in other chapters.

The ibex is strictly nocturnal in its habits, passing the
day at rest, either on the snow-fields or amidst the most
rugged and inaccessible ground within its reach, and only
descending to lower levels to feed after sun-down. This

♦ ** In the Pyrenees," Sir Victor Brooke writes us, " they are rare,
and live in the worst precipices I ever saw an animal in. They go into
far worse ground than chamois, and are very noctmnnal — never seen
except in the dusk and early dawn, unless distiurbed."



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THE SPANISH IBEX. 183

habit never varies. In the more elevated cordilleras,
where, even in summer, there remain great expanses of



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134 WILD SPAIN.

guarded from danger of surprise by sentries, who hold
watch and ward from some commanding point. Here,
except sometimes during the hottest days of July and
August, they are all but inaccessible — it is impossible to
** turn their flank," for they have, behind them, vast
breadths of snow impassable to man : while the vigilance
of their sentries simply mocks the stalker— even if their
position is not physically inexpugnable. The only sys-
tematic method employed by native hunters, at such times,
is the unsatisfactory one of waiting, at dusk, to " cut them
out " in the passes by which they are accustomed to descend
to their feeding-grounds — a bitterly cold and most uncer-
tain undertaking, to say nothing of its danger, for after
sun-down the soft snow freezes into a soUd ice-sheet, cutting
oflf the hunter's retreat along the steep slope of the sierra.

The ibex of these higher sierras never descend to the
level where pines, high brushwood, or indeed any covert
can grow. Their home is on the snow and rock, and they
only descend as far as that zone of moss, heath, and
stunted alpine vegetation which intervenes between the
snow-line and the highest levels of conifer or tree-growth.
Their food consists of the bloom and shoots of various
alpine shrubs, grasses and flowers — the Spanish gorse,
broom, rosemary, and piorno, as well as certain narcissi,
mountain-berries, and the peasants' scant crops of rye-
grass. For this latter luxury they are tempted to come
down rather lower : but under no circumstances, not even
in winter, are the ibex of Gredos or Nevada found in the
forests or amongst covert of any kind.

Such, in outline, are the habits of the ibex of the higher
sierras. But ibex also exist on mountain-ranges of much
lesser elevations, and there their habits differ widely. Some
of these lower hills are covered with brushwood to their very
crests — one has pines on its summit, at 4,800 feet. Here
the ibex cannot, of course, disdain the shelter of the scrub,
and even frequent the forests at much lower elevations.
We have hunted them in ground that looked far more suit-
able for roe-deer, and have even seen the " rootings " of pig
overlapping the feeding-grounds of the goats.



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THE SPANISH IBEX. 135

In such situations, the ibex form regular ^' lairs " amidst
the fastnesses of broom, gorse and thorny aboldga, on the



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186 WILD SPAIN.

to the rough and intercepted nature of the ground, over-
grown for miles with forest and matted brushwood;
and, in some degree, to their own comparatively small
numbers.*

A third very distinct habitat we have described in detail
elsewhere. Here, on an isolated mountain, detached from
the adjoining sierras, and affording neither the refuge of
snow-fields nor jungle, the mother-wit of a segregated
band of ibex managed to discover a sanctuary scarcely
less secure. As elsewhere described, they simply shut
the door on pursuit by betaking themselves into the
clefts and crannies of a hanging rock-wall some three
miles long and 2,000 feet high. To these eagle's eyries no
other terrestrial being could follow, nor human power dis-
lodge the astute vionteses, whose beards, for all we know,
were shaking with laughter as they gazed down upon their
discomfited enemies.

In this case, the ibex may almost be said to have '' gone
to ground " ; for they actually sought shelter, when hard
pressed, in the caves and ravines with which the face of
these precipices were serried. This seems opposed to all
one's ideas of what omfht to be the habits of a wild goat ;
but it well illustrates the pre-eminently astute nature
of the animal.

"Were it otherwise — were it not for this reasoning sagacity
in utilizing the natural resources of each locality — in short,
adapting their habits to the necessities of the case, the
existence of these isolated colonies of ibex, on limited
terrain, would be impossible. Even as it is, their survival
is, we fear, in some cases, only a question of years, for the
tiradores of the sierra hunt them in season and out. The

* The ibex of Asia Minor — a quite distinct species, Cajpra cegragv^
— appears, according to Mr. E. N. Buxton {Nmeieenth Centwry,
February, 1891, p. 251, et seq.), to have somewhat similar habits,
frequenting the pine forests and lower wooded slopes of the hills, by
preference to the treeless summits. But the Turkish mountaineer is
a very different man to his Spanish representative, and appears utterly
careless of the charms of the chase, seldom molesting the wild goats,
whereas in Spain they are rarely left in peace while there is a chance
of killing them.



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Plate XIX.



OX THE CRAGS OF ALMANZOR.



Pago 137.



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THE SPANISH IBEX. 187

Serrano hnnts rather for the pot than for sport, and spares
neither sex nor age. With all his sportsman-like qualities
and skill in his craft, our friend is not truly a sportsman.
He is, we fear, but a butcher at heart ; meat is what he
seeks ; to him a female is only a less desirable quarry
than her lord in the ratio of her smaller weight — about
one-fourth less. It is the same with everything; with
partridge, a covey at a shot, as they run up in file to the
traitor reclanio ; with bustard, to massacre a pair as they
stoop to drink at a water-hole in the thirsty summer days ;
with trout, to decimate a river by poisoning the streams,
tipping in a cart-load of quicklime, or blowing up a pool
by dynamite — such are the cherished objects of our friend,
the Spanish cazador ; and yet, despite it all, we like him,
and are never happier than during the hours we spend in
his company around the camp-fire.

In form and build, the ibex represents the very perfec-
tion of combined power and action — if physical adaptation
counts in the struggle for the " survival of the fittest," the
wild goat need hardly fear extinction. His thickset frame,
broad front, and prominent eyes, with well-poised neck,
clean quarters, and the light muscular legs set well within
his short round barrel, all bespeak qualities which admir-
ably adapt him to the hard, strange life assigned by nature
to the wild-goat.

During the summer months, the ibex feast luxuriously
on the abundant crop of mountain-grasses, flowering shrubs
and rush, which at that season clothe the Alpine soli-
tudes ; and, later, on the various berries and wild fruits of
the hills. By autumn they are in their highest condition
— the long black beards of the old rams fully developed,
and their brown coats long, glossy, and almost uniform in
colour. At this period the rutting season takes place— in
October.; and the machos fight furiously for the assembled
harems — rearing on hind legs for a charge, the crash of
opposing horns resounds afar across the glens and corries
of the sierra. Even in spring their combative instinct sur-
vives ; we have watched, in April, a pair of veterans sparring
at each other for an hour together.



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138 WILD SPAIN.

The young ibex are bom in April, and soon learn to
follow their dams — graceful Uttle creatures, like brown
lambs, easily captured if the mother is shot, but not other-
wise. One is the usual number, but two is not infrequent.
It is a curious fact that the kid remains with its dam
upwards of a year — that is, till after a second family has
been born. Consequently it is usual, in spring, to see the
females in trios — the mother, her yearling daughter, called
the chiratay and the new-born kid, or chivo. Though, as
just stated, there are often two young, yet we have never
seen more than one chivata with each female ibex — pos-
sibly it is only the female kids that remain so long with
their dams. In May the chivatas are conspicuously smaller
than the adult females, but their horns are nearly as
large.

At this season (April-May) the ibex are changing their
coats ; the males have almost entirely lost their flowing
beards, and in colour assume a hoary, piebald appearance,
especially on cheeks and forequarters, contrasting with the
darker portions above and behind. The muzzle is warm
cream-colour, and the lower part of the leg (below the
knee) prettily marked with black and white ; on the knee,
a callosity, or round patch of bare hard skin. The horns
of yearling males are larger and heavier than those of
adult females.

Though it is the custom of the hill-shepherds during
summer to drive out their herds of goats to pasture on the
higher ranges of the sierra, where they must sometimes
come in contact with their wild congeners, yet no inter-
breeding takes place; nor can the race of wild ibex be
reduced to domesticity. The hnntero frequently capture
the young ibex — it is sometimes given as an excuse for
killing the daxo — yet they rarely survive long in captivity,
and never mate with the domestic goat. In May we
could not hear of a single wild kid of the previous year's
capture that had survived the twelvemonth in any of the
hiU-villages of Gredos. The form of the horns in the
domestic goat is essentially different; they are much
flatter, thinner, and not a quarter as large as those of the



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THE SPANISH IBEX. 139

wild ibex. The latter can hardly have been the progenitor
of the race of goats now domesticated in Spain.

The smell of a dead ibex is specially strong and
unpleasant — an old male stinks far worse than a vulture ;
yet little or no trace of this remains after cooking. Their
flesh is firm and brown, fairly good eating, but without
any special flavour or individuality — that is, when sub-
jected to the rude cookery of the camp.



OLD OLIVB-TREES-NEAR TALAVERA.



Online LibraryFrancis WhartonWharton and Stillé's medical jurisprudence .. → online text (page 11 of 36)