La Chata

The two cars had arrived at the square late at night, when there was no longer a soul circulating in the town, especially in November. However, the noise of the horses' hooves pulling sparks from the cobblestones woke up Manuela 'la Cantuesa', who, despite the cold, threw herself out of bed and, through the crack in the panels, carefully observed the entire unloading operation. , which, due to the abundant luggage, lasted almost an hour.

Instead, the passengers were only four: a man and three women who quickly got into the house, where, there was no doubt, they were waiting for them, because the door was opened without the need for a knock.

The man came out again and directed the unloading operation carried out by the two coachmen.

The house belonged to Juan Gómez's widow, Juana Piñuelas, an important character in the town, a lady of many influences, since her brother Nicolás was not in vain a doctor in the Court.

"La Cantuesa" woke up her husband and together they were silent witnesses to the secret operation.

As soon as the luggage was inside the house, the traveler dismissed the cars, which immediately started back.

The news of the arrival at the Peñuelas' house of an important lady, with two maids, and that she came from Madrid --that's for sure, because, although she left after two days without leaving the house, “la Cantuesa” already He had identified Dª Juana's brother--, he ran through the town and the next night more than half of the neighbors had already passed through the square, to find out something.

Something was learned, well it was learned what Dª Juana's maid told the queue of the water from the source of "La China", when it was like every afternoon to look for a jug of water, because her wife said it was the best from town.

Indeed, a very young lady, not very pretty and very important, had arrived from Madrid, closely related to the court, who had come to recover for two or three months from a serious illness from which the danger had passed.

In Madrid she was under the care of Don Nicolás and he had brought her to his sister's house to recover and the town doctor, Don Jesús, would follow Dr. Peñuelas' instructions in everything.

However, the days passed and no one ever saw the lady from Madrid. With her came two maids who soon found out about the customs and places of supply, shops, crafts, workshops ... and that they hardly talked to anyone. Just the courtesy words, good morning, goodbye ... and little else.

On the third day, Dª Juana, taking advantage of the fact that the maid broke a gourd from the chocolate game that the queen had given to her brother, threw it out and although it surprised many; Not that he fired her, since that was common, but that he did not seek a replacement and reject all offers, some with high recommendations from the main people of the town, others thought that with the two people, neither of them really young, that the lady from Madrid had brought with her, they would fix themselves; and Dª Juana was not a person willing to spend unnecessary expenses.

In any case, the arrival of the stranger was quite an event in the town, but although logically the passage of time should have been filing the mezzanine acuities of the locals, it did not happen that way, because every little time, no more than two weeks, she appeared Someone new ... either Dr. Peñuelas, he who only went to town at harvest time, or some lady with a lot of packaging who arrived in bonded cars with livery and who stopped very little, because he did not even eat at home .

Nobody knew anything, and nobody released a pledge ... and that was too much for the curiosity of the people ... until "La Perranda", an illiterate woman who made a living doing the most unpleasant jobs when someone needed it ... shrouding, cleaning the stables ... wash the clothes of the sick ... but smarter than the hunger that passed, he realized that from the tower he could see a corner of the garden of the Peñuelas, precisely the sunny spot where they hung their clothes, which they never washed in the sewer or in the Valdeperijo laundries, but in a basin in the garden itself.

He liked to sit there, in the warmth of the midday sun of late winter and contemplate the richness of those very white clothes with lace and lace on all sides ... Many days passed ... and suddenly he realized that, Although it had been more than a month since the mysterious lady had arrived, she had never seen cloths laid out like the ones women use to soak up the effluvia of menstruation.

What the hell disease ...! What happens is that the lady is pregnant and comes here to give birth.

Naturally, neither Dona Juana nor the two maids were old enough to need such hygiene, but the lady was young. She was frightened by her daring discovery and swore to herself that she would not discuss it with anyone.

Despite the cold of winter, he increased the hours of espionage from the tower, hoping that, at least once, the mysterious lady would be able to walk through the sun and thus verify his theory. As he spent the whole day touring the town, for the jobs that were entrusted to him or as a distraction, he dedicated himself very carefully to following the maids when they went out on their errands ... He did not really get much from his adventures and their follow-up. because they hardly ever went out together. He immediately noticed that even if they pretended they were not two simple maids, but very cultured and highly prepared people, not only because they spoke very well, but also because of the speed with which they calculated on purchases, and above all the distant but very correct treatment they used with everything. the world.

He wanted to hear them talk to each other, to see if he would pick up on any of the conversation, an oversight, or a confidence they made. He did not have a chance until Christmas Eve night when the two of them went to the mass of the Rooster. He stood behind them and when the roar of Christmas carols, carracks and zambombas began, he stuck to the crinolines of the two and, since they had to speak loudly to understand each other, he listened to everything they were saying. When one of them spoke of her mistress, "Your Highness" escaped her. She got scared, she quickly turned her head looking for someone who might have heard her, but La Perranda, clever as she was, was already bent over making parties to Senora Engracia's son, who was enthusiastically spinning the rattle.

It was the year 1863 and immediately he began to investigate on his own, who was the King of Spain, how many children he had, what ages and to whom that title corresponded. But La Perranda could not read and was unwilling to confide her secret to anyone.

He had also observed that Don Antonio the priest, who used to go a lot at the Peñuelas' house, had not returned since the arrival of the lady, that is to say that he too had been thrown out as the maid. There would be D. Antonio, he who liked to rub shoulders with the main people so much, with a hell of a rage because no one had given him a candle at that funeral, or whatever it was, or at that birth if La Perranda was right.

Desperate, because there was no one to satisfy her now irrepressible curiosity, she made up her mind to go ask Don Antonio, who would feel flattered with his anger and tell him everything.

Don Antonio had always treated her well and he also knew her very well. He knew about her intelligence and was very careful to confront her.

Finally he made up his mind and went to the priest's house. He received her affably, and when he asked her what she wanted, La Perranda got a flash of wit, fast and clear as lightning, and almost without realizing it, she snapped at Don Antonio.

"I come to speak with you about a long matter, but in confession and it must be here."

D. Antonio was scared, because he saw her coming. He was aware of everything. Dr. Peñuelas had visited him and made him his accomplice. He had begged her not to go to the house if the lady didn't call him, but if she needed him, come immediately or when she asked.

Instantly he realized La Perranda's move. Creature case! What a crime that talents were lost like this! and he thought that the best thing was to win over Perranda for the "cause", than not to leave her unsatisfied and to become the town crier of the situation.

La Perranda spoke, or rather, asked: first for the King.

- There is no King, there is Queen.

- Oh, and what is his name?

- Isabel.

- Already. And what is her name: Doña. Lady...

- Majesty ...

- Ah ... La Perranda was perplexed. No, that's not how the maid had called her and ... who is called Highness?

Here already Don Antonio felt disarmed and decided to tell him everything.

"Indeed the lady was" Highness. " An infanta, that is, a daughter of the King who, due to the problems of the Salic Law, could not reign because they were women, but now they do and who are called that, Infantas.

“Her Highness, the Infanta, had had a bad step at the Palace and as she suspected she was pregnant and within the month of January she would give birth. Dr. Peñuelas, who as she knew, was a doctor in the Royal Palace, had brought her to her seven-month-old sister's house to give birth and as soon as the boy or girl was born, the first thing they would do with him would be to bring him up to the church to baptize him and take him to Madrid, where a house was already prepared, and the lady, as soon as she recovered, would also leave since the three months she had needed to recover from the fevers that appeared in September had already passed and how bad they had it. "

- “Look, Ines ... all of this is very serious, not only what it means to have a maiden child against the Commandments of God and men, but this is much more serious in the royal family, because it can even cause a civil war. You tell me that you haven't told anyone yet, I believe you, just as I believe you are intelligent enough, which I would not trust most of the neighbors, to swear to keep my secret and not tell anyone what you know. I promise you that everything I know from now on, both about the mother and the child, I will tell you, although I suppose it won't be much, because as soon as they disappear from here they no longer need me and they won't tell me anything ”.

Inés "La Perranda" refused to swear, because she was afraid of herself and did not want to expose herself to such a serious sin, but she did promise that she would not tell anyone.

………………… ..

In mid-January, the infanta gave birth to a child that D. Antonio curiously baptized with the same name, according to what a granddaughter of La Perranda told me, because she was very old and could not bear it and one autumn afternoon when he took her out to the sun. from the alley, he confided to his granddaughter his hidden secret.

Never again was there talk of the mysterious Lady who disappeared as she came, one morning in two cars that left full of luggage and only with four passengers.

In 1885 the La Fuente de San Esteban-Boada railway line to Barca de Alba was inaugurated and the Infanta Isabel 'La Chata' presided over this inauguration, who had a special interest in the inauguration and for said event the Count of Lumbrales erected the building that today it is the house of culture.

Was La Chata the woman who gave birth to a child in the house in the square that later became a café-dance hall according to La Perranda's granddaughter told me? We will never know.

At the end of the eighties, I think, but these nineteen hundred, a man came to the parish house to ask for the Baptism Faith of a child born in Lumbrales in the nineteenth century who I do not know who told me his name was Antonio. Later I wanted to find out more and no one answered, nor, according to rumors, does this Baptism Faith appear, since without remembering the surnames and doubting the name of Antonio, it is almost impossible to find it.

No matter how little imagination you have, it is easy to assemble these three events and create a story where there is nothing but rumors, inventions and confusion. But is it interesting?

… Or not?

By the EGG transcript.