Most Of Them Were Old Soldiers,
Who, Having Served Their Ten, Fifteen, Or Twenty Years, According To
The Nature Of The Crime For Which They Had Been Condemned To The Army,
Had Been Discharged Or Thrown Out To Live Like Carrion-Hawks On What
They Could Pick Up.
Twenty times a day at least you would hear the
iron gate opening from the courtyard into the street swung open,
followed by the call or shout of the beggar demanding charity in the
name of God.
Outside you could not walk far without being confronted
by one of these men, who would boldly square himself in front of you
on the narrow pavement and beg for alms. If you had no change and
said, _"Perdon, por Dios,"_ he would scowl and let you pass; but if
you looked annoyed or disgusted, or ordered him out of the way, or
pushed by without a word, he would glare at you with a concentrated
rage which seemed to say, "Oh, to have you down at my mercy, bound
hand and foot, a sharp knife in my hand!" And this would be followed
by a blast of the most horrible language.
One day I witnessed a very strange thing, the action of a dog, by the
waterside. It was evening and the beach was forsaken; cartmen,
fishermen, boatmen all gone, and I was the only idler left on the
rocks; but the tide was coming in, rolling quite big waves on to the
rocks, and the novel sight of the waves, the freshness, the joy of it,
kept me at that spot, standing on one of the outermost rocks not yet
washed over by the water.
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