Fiction > Harvard Classics > Juan Valera > Pepita Jimenez > Part II.—Paralipomena > Chapter Prologue
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Juan Valera (1824–1905).  Pepita Jimenez.
The Harvard Classics Shelf of Fiction.  1917.
  
Part II.—Paralipomena
Chapter Prologue
  
HERE end the letters of Don Luis de Vargas. We should therefore be left in ignorance of the subsequent fortunes of these lovers, if one familiar with all the circumstances had not communicated the following particulars:   1
  
  No one in the village found anything strange in the fact of Pepita’s being indisposed, or thought, still less, of attributing her indisposition to a cause of which only we, Pepita herself, Don Luis, the reverend dean, and the discreet Antoñona, are thus far cognizant.   2
  They might rather have wondered at the life of gaiety that Pepita had been leading for some time past, at the daily gatherings at her house, and the excursions into the country in which she had joined. That Pepita should return to her habitual seclusion was quite natural.   3
  Her secret and deeply rooted love for Don Luis was hidden from the searching glances of Doña Casilda, of Currito, and of all the other personages of the village of whom mention is made in the letters of Don Luis. Still less could the public know of it. It never entered into the head of any one, no one imagined for a moment, that the theologian, the “saint,” as they called Don Luis, could become the rival of his father, or could have succeeded where the redoubtable and powerful Don Pedro de Vargas had failed—in winning the heart of the graceful, coy, and reserved young widow.   4
  Notwithstanding the familiarity of the ladies of the village with their servants, Pepita had allowed none of hers to suspect anything. Only the lynx-eyed Antoñona, whom nothing could escape, and more especially nothing that concerned her young mistress, had penetrated the mystery.   5
  Antoñona did not conceal her discovery from Pepita, nor could Pepita deny the truth to the woman who had nursed her, who idolized her, and who, if she delighted in finding out and gossiping about all that took place in the village, being, as she was, a model scandal-monger, was yet, in all that related to her mistress, reticent and loyal as but few are.   6
  In this manner Antoñona made herself the confidante of Pepita; and Pepita found great consolation in unburdening her heart to one who, though she might be coarse in the frankness with which she expressed her sentiments, was not so either in the sentiments or the ideas that she expressed.   7
  In this may be found the explanation of Antoñona’s visits to Don Luis, as well as of her words, and even of the ferocious and disrespectful pinches, given in so ill-chosen a spot, with which she bruised his flesh and wounded his dignity on the occasion of her last visit to him.   8
  Not only had Pepita not desired Antoñona to carry messages to Don Luis, but she did not even know that she had gone to see him. Antoñona had taken the initiative, and had interfered in the matter simply because she herself had wanted to do so.   9
  As has already been said, she had with wonderful perspicacity discovered the state of affairs between her mistress and Don Luis.  10
  While Pepita herself was still scarcely conscious of the fact that she loved Don Luis, Antoñona already knew it. Scarcely had Pepita begun to cast on him those furtive glances, ardent and involuntary, which had wrought such havoc—glances which had been intercepted by none of those present when they were given—when Antoñona, who was not present, had already spoken of them to Pepita. And no sooner had those glances been returned, than Antoñona knew that also.  11
  There was but little left, then, for the mistress to confide to a servant of so much penetration, and so skilled in divining what passed in the inmost recesses of her breast.  12
  Five days after the date of Don Luis’s last letter our narrative begins:  13

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