“‘It was madness to try to catch her. Besides, people were already passing through the Carrera de San Jeronimo, and in Prado Street, loo. It was broad daylight. The tall woman kept on running or flying, as far as Huertas Street, which was now lighted up by the sun. There she stopped to look back at me. She waved her closed fan at me once or twice, threateningly, and then disappeared around a corner.
‘“Wait a little longer, Gabriel. Do not yet pronounce judgment in this case, where my life and soul are concerned. Listen to me two minutes longer.
In Santa Agueda
‘“When I entered my house I met Colonel Falcon, who had just come to tell me that my Joaquina, my betrothed, all my hope and happiness and joy on earth, had died the day before in Santa Agueda. The unfortunate father had telegraphed Falcon to tell me—me, who should have divined it an hour before, when I met the evil spirit of my life! Don’t you understand, now, that I must kill that born enemy of my happiness, that vile old hag, who is the living mockery of my destiny?
“‘But why do I say kill? Is she a woman? Is she a human being? Why have I had a presentiment of her ever since I was born? Why did she recognize me when she first saw me? Why do I never see her except when some great calamity has befallen me? Is she Satan? Is she Death? Is she Life? Is she Antichrist? Who is she? What is she?’”
“I will spare you, my dear friends,” continued Gabriel, “the arguments and remarks which I used to see if I could not calm Telesforo, for they are the same, precisely the same, which you are preparing now to advance to prove that there is nothing supernatural or superhuman in my story. You will even go further; you will say that my friend was half crazy; that he always was so; that, at least, he suffered from that moral disease which some call ‘panic terror,’ and others ‘emotional insanity’; that, even granting the truth of what I have related about the tall woman, it must all be referred to chance coincidences of dates and events; and, finally, that the poor old creature could also have been crazy, or a thief, or a beggar, or a procuress— as the hero of my story said to himself in a lucid interval.”
“A very proper supposition,” exclaimed Gabriel’s comrades; that is just what we were going to say.”