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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
Pepita’s Eyes
By Juan Valera (1824–1905)
From ‘Pepita Jiménez’: Translation of William Henry Bishop

AS I must have told you in former letters, Pepita’s eyes, though green like those of Circe, have a most tranquil and exemplary expression. One would decide that she was not conscious of the power of her eyes at all, nor ever knew that they could serve for any other purpose than simply that of seeing with. When her gaze falls upon you, its soft light is so clear, so candid and pure, that so far from fomenting any wicked thought, it appears as if it favored only those of the most limpid kind. It leaves chaste and innocent souls in unruffled repose, and it destroys all incentive to ill in those that are not so. Nothing of ardent passion, nothing of unhallowed fire, is there in the eyes of Pepita. Like the calm mild radiance of the moon, rather, is the sweet illumination of her glance.  1
  Well, then, I have to tell you now, in spite of all the above, that two or three times I have fancied I caught an instantaneous gleam of splendor, a lightning-like flash, a devastating leap of flame, in those fine eyes when they rested upon mine. Is this only some ridiculous bit of vanity, suggested by the arch-fiend himself? I think it must be. I wish to believe that it is, and I will believe that it is.  2
  No, it was not a dream, it was not the figment of a mad imagination, it was but the sober truth. She does suffer her eyes to look into mine with the burning glance of which I have told you. Her eyes are endowed with a magnetic attraction impossible to explain. They draw me on, they undo me, and I cannot withhold my own from them. At those times my eyes must blaze with a baleful flame like hers. Thus did those of Amnon when he contemplated Tamar; thus did those of the Prince of Schechem when he looked upon Dinah.  3
  When our glances meet in that way I forget even my God. Her image instead rises up in my soul, victorious over everything. Her beauty shines resplendent beyond all other beauty; the joys of heaven seem to me of less worth than her affection, and an eternity of suffering but a trifling cost for the incalculable bliss infused into my being by a single one of those glances of hers, though they pass quick as the lightning’s flash.  4
  When I return to my dwelling, when I am alone in my chamber, in the silence of the night,—then, oh then, all the horror of my situation comes upon me, and I form the best of resolutions—but only to break them again forthwith.  5
  I promise myself to invent a pretext of sickness, or to seek some other subterfuge, no matter what, in order not to go to Pepita’s house on the succeeding night; and yet I go, just as if no such resolution had been taken.  6
  Not alone to my sight is she so delectable, so grateful, but her voice also sounds in my ears like the celestial music of the spheres, revealing to me all the harmonies of the universe. I even go to the point of imagining that there emanates from her form a subtile aroma of delicious fragrance, more delicate than that of mint by the brook-sides, or than wild thyme on the mountain slopes.  7

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