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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
How Young Don Fadrique was Persuaded to Dance
By Juan Valera (1824–1905)
 
From ‘Commander Mendoza’: Translation of William Henry Bishop

WHEN a child, Don Fadrique used to dance the bolero very creditably. Don Diego—for such was his father’s name—had pleasure in seeing the boy exhibit his grace and skill whenever he took him about to pay visits with him, or when he received visitors at his own house.  1
  On a certain occasion Don Diego, with his son Don Fadrique, went to the little city,—I have never been willing to give any name to it,—distant about two leagues from Villabermejo, in which little city the scene of my novel ‘Pepita Jiménez’ is laid….  2
  At that time Don Fadrique was thirteen years old, but unusually tall for his age. As visits of ceremony were to be made, he had put on a crimson damask coat and waistcoat, with burnished steel buttons, together with white-silk stockings and buckled shoes,—a costume in which he was like the midday sun, for the fine and becoming effect of it.  3
  Don Fadrique’s well-worn traveling-suit, much spotted and patched, was left behind at the inn, as were their horses as well. Don Diego was of a mind that his son should appear in his company in unclouded splendor; and the boy was most self-complacent at finding himself decked out in such modish and elegant attire. This fine dress, however, inspired in him at the same time an ideal of a certain exaggerated formality and reserve of conduct, he thought he ought to observe to be in keeping with it.  4
  Their first visit was made to a noble dame, a widow with two unmarried daughters. Unluckily here the family spoke of young Fadrique; how he was growing up, and his skill in dancing the bolero.  5
  “He does not dance as well at present as he did a year ago,” his father explained; “for he is just now at the awkward hobbledehoy age,—an ungainly period, between schoolmaster’s rod and the first razor. You know that boys at that age are unendurable,—trying to ape the airs of grown men, when they are not men in the least. Nevertheless, as you are kind enough to desire it, he shall give you an example of his accomplishments in the dancing line.”  6
  The ladies, who had at first but politely suggested it, hereupon urged their request quite warmly. One of the young daughters of the house picked up a guitar, and began to strum suitable dance music.  7
  “Dance, Fadrique,” said Don Diego, as soon as the music struck up.  8
  But an unconquerable repugnance to dancing upon that occasion took possession of the boy. He fancied there was a prodigious irrelevancy—a regular Antinomian heresy, as they would have said in those days—between his dance and the mature coat of ceremony he had then put on. It should be stated that he wore such a coat on this day for the first time; and this too was the very first appearance of the new costume—if indeed it can be called “new,” after having been made over from a suit which had first been his father’s, and then his elder brother’s, and only handed down to him when it had grown too tight and short for them.  9
  “Dance, Fadrique,” his father repeated, beginning to lose patience at his delay.  10
  Don Diego—whose own garb, of a kind adapted both to country wear and to traveling, was presumably quite correct enough without change—had not donned a formal coat, like his son. His attire consisted of a complete suit of dressed deerskin, with long boots and spurs; and in his hand he carried the hunting-whip with which he was wont to keep in order both his spirited horse and a pack of dogs that followed him.  11
  “Dance, Fadrique!” cried Don Diego, repeating his order for the third time. His voice had an agitated tone, due to anger and surprise.  12
  Don Diego held so exalted an idea of the paternal authority, and of his own in particular, that he marveled at the species of taciturn rebellion at which he was assisting.  13
  “Let him alone, I beg, Señor de Mendoza,” interposed the noble widow. “The child is tired out with his journey, and does not feel like dancing.”  14
  “He has got to dance, and at once.”  15
  “No, no, never mind,” protested she who strummed the guitar. “Probably we shall have the pleasure of seeing him some other time.”  16
  “He shall dance, and on the instant, I say. Dance, I tell you, Fadrique.”  17
  “I won’t dance in a coat of ceremony like this,” the youth at last responded.  18
  Aqui fué Troya [Here stood Troy]. Don Diego ignored the presence of the ladies, and all other restraining motives. The reply had been to him like a match applied to a powder magazine.  19
  “Rebel, disobedient son,” he shouted in a rage, “I’ll send you away to the Torribiós! [A severe reform-school founded by a certain Father Torribío.] Dance, or I will flog you.” And he began flogging young Don Fadrique with his riding-whip.  20
  The girl who had the guitar stopped her music for an instant in surprise; but Don Diego gave her such an angry and terrible look that she feared he might make her play by hard knocks, just as he was trying to make his son dance, and so she kept on without further pause.  21
  When Don Fadrique had received eight or ten sound lashes, he all at once began to perform the dance, the very best he knew how.  22
  At first the tears ran down his cheeks; but presently, upon the reflection that it was his own father that was beating him, and the whole scene striking his fancy in a comic light,—seeing his case, for instance, as if it were that of another person, he began to laugh heartily. To dance, in a coat of ceremony, to the accompaniment of a volley of whip-lashes, what could be funnier? In spite of the physical pain he was suffering, he laughed gayly, and danced with the enthusiasm of a veritable inspiration.  23
  The ladies applauded the strange performance with all their might.  24
  “Good! good!” now cried Don Diego. “By all the devils! have I hurt you, my son?”  25
  “Not at all, father. It is clear I needed a double accompaniment to make me dance to-day.”  26
  “Well, try and forget it, my boy. Why did you want to be so obstinate? What reasonable ground for refusing could you have had, when your new coat fits you as if it were simply painted on, and when you consider that the classic and high-bred bolero is a dance entirely suited to any gentleman? I am a little quick-tempered, I admit; but I hope these ladies will pardon me.”  27
  And with this ended the episode of the bolero.  28
 
 
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