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of Spain in his wisdom has suppressed. I had amongst my scanty baggage three or four odd volumes, which I gave to Clara; and this gift, valuable in her eyes, led to our acquaintance, which I sedulously cultivated during my long sojourn in Spain, after the war of inde. pendence; and I am, therefore, enabled to select the truth from a cloud of falsehoods which have been bandied about in her country upon this singular woman. Little is known of her earlier years : however, the following I had from herself. One evening, as we were smoking round her brazero, a curé, who was amongst us, asked her where and of what parents she was born. Clara, who was fond of recounting her origin, gave us the following history, which I do not pretend to guarantee. “ I came into the world,” said she, “under an orange-tree on the road side, not far from Matil, in the kingdom of Grenada. My mother exercised the profession of fortune-telling. I followed her, or rather she carried me on her back, until I was five years of age ; she then took me to the house of a canon of Grenada (the licentiate Gil Vargas), who received me with great demonstrations of joy. My mother said to me, · kiss your uncle,' and I kissed him. She then embraced me and instantly quitted the house ; I have never seen her since." To put an end to our questions, Donna Clara then took her guitar and sung us the gipsy's song, Cuando me pariò mi madre la gitana.
As to her genealogy, she manufactured one after her own fashion. Far from pretending to be descended from old Christians, she said she was of Moorish blood, and one of the descendants of the tender-hearted Moor Gazul, so famous in the old Spanish ballads. However this might be, the somewhat wild expression of her eyes, her long and raven-black hair, her tall and slender shape, white and regular teeth, and her complexion slightly tinged with olive, did not belie her origin.
When tranquillity was re-established in the south of Spain, Donna Clara and her guardian returned to Grenada. He was a kind of
Cerberus, and a most inveterate enemy of serenading. If a barber's boy but thrummed his crazy mandolin, Fray Roque, who saw lovers in all directions, hobbled up to the chamber of his ward, reproached her bitterly for the scandal caused by her coquetry, and exhorted her to secure her salvation by entering a convent (probably with the condition of renouncing in his favour what had been left her by the licentiate Gil Vargas). In fine, he did not quit her till after he had satisfied himself that neither bolts nor bars were strong enough to convince him of her prudence. One day he stole so softly into her chamber that he surprised her writing—not a comedy, for she had not yet begun—but the most impassioned of billets-doux. The anger of the reverend father was proportioned to the crime; the criminal was shut up in a convent. Fifteen days after her entrance into the cloister, she made her escape over the wall, and for three months baffled all attempts at discovery. At the end of this period, Fray Roque learned with horror that the timid dove confided to his care had made a most successful début at the principal theatre (Teatro Mayor) of Cadiz, in the character of Donna Clara in the Mogigata.
Fray Roque quitted Grenada, resolved to take her away by force from the singular asylum she had chosen. The lovers of scandal were joyfully anticipating the future lawsuit between an inquisitor and theatrical manager, when a fit of gout in the stomach deprived the holy office of a zealous member, and freed Clara from a troublesome guardian. Various motives were assigned for her adoption of the stage : some attributed it to a natural taste for the profession of an actress; others would have it, that it was owing to an inclination she had for the joren galan ;* others again seemed to think that poverty alone compelled her to become an actress.
A short time before the insurrection of the troops stationed in the Isle of Leon, Donna Clara had come into possession of her uncle's legacy, and her house became the rendezvous
* The actor who fills the lovers' parts."
of all the wits and constitutionalists of Cadiz. Her reputation as a liberal was near costing her dear, during the massacre of the 10th of March. One of the leales de Fernando Septimo, meeting her in the street, raised his sabre to cut her down, when one of his comrades stopped him, saying, “ Do not you see, you fool, that it is Clarita, who has made us laugh so heartily in the saynete de la Gitana?"_“I know it," said the other, “but is she not an enemy of God and the King?”—“No matter," replied his comrade; “I wish to see her play again la Gitana,” and in this manner he saved her life.
Some days after Clara appeared upon the stage, wearing the national cockade, and singing patriotic songs with such graceful effect, that she turned the head of even the serviles themselves. All the officers of Quiroga's regiment made her the “lady of their thoughts." Two young officers of the battalion of America quarrelled upon her account—she had given to one of them a cockade of green ribbon made with her own hands, which the