"I WISH you would not be so fond of choosing this nasty old ruined house for our playground, Lolita!"
"Oh, don't you like it, Ana? I do so love to come here and listen to the tales the Wind tells me, as it moans through these crumbling walls!"
"The tales the Wind tells you, hermana  dear! what can you mean?"
"Oh, I forgot! you don't know the Wind's language; but I do, and I love to listen to it."
"Oh, Lolita dear, do tell me what the Wind tells you! What does it say about this ruined cottage?"
"Why, it told me such a strange story, Ana! It said to me, 'A long, long while ago, when I was one day dancing happily this way on a sunbeam, this old ruined cottage was then just built; all was then bright and new within and without; the cock strutted about the yard, keeping his fowls in order, and shouting, "Qui quirri qui!" the hens gathered their chickens under their wings, crying, "Cá, cá, cá, cá!" the cat sunned himself on the projecting roof, and frightened the birds from the cherry-tree that shaded it; and the dog ran about wagging his tail, and keeping them all in order, with one eye at least ever open for the rabbit that would poach in the lettuce-bed. On the sunny side of the house was a magnificent parral , where every evening might be seen Pepito and Dolores sitting together in newly-wedded bliss. Pepito would be sawing or nailing wood, which was to make a cradle, and Dolores, stitching away at little fine bits of clothes that looked as if they were meant for a fairy. They were so happy, that whenever I was sent that way I used to step aside and ask my sister the Breeze to sweep round that corner for me, because I am rough and she is gentle; and I used to love to watch how pleased they were with her refreshing visit, after the burning heat of the day.
"'But it happened one day that I had to go a long, long journey: some pirates were ravaging the sea, and I was to kick up a storm which would frighten them away from some poor and hardy sailors who were not strong enough to encounter them; and then I had to sweep round the north of Africa, to disperse an army of locusts that were preparing to ravage the land and destroy the work of the husbandman. So I passed through the parral as gently as I could, and kissed the young couple under it, and went lightly on my way.
"'It was some months before I was sent to Spain again, but the first chance I had I went as near as I could to this cottage; and as I came along, my attention was attracted by another cottage, which seemed to me something like it, so I looked in: there was only one cheery old man inside it, and he was making preparations for a journey. "Won't they be pleased to see me? How little they think I could come so soon!" he muttered, as he put his bundle together. I made the air clear and fresh for his journey, and passed along.
"'As I went over the mountains, I came upon a couple of muleteers directing a file of laden mules; they looked hot and wayworn, so I blew the dust off them, and cooled their feet, and the hoofs of their beasts. As I came near I recognized my friend Pepito, but he no longer looked so happy as of old; his expression was dark and anxious, and it grew gloomier as he listened to some sombre tale his companion was telling.
"'"Are you sure--certain sure?" he exclaimed.
"'"Mas cierto que el reloj, hombre ," replied the sinister companion, whom I now also recognized for a fellow of very bad reputation in Pepito's village, and who was said to have vowed vengeance on Dolores because she had married Pepito instead of him.
"'"And if I turn back to-night, I shall find him of whom you speak in my cottage?" continued Pepito, in an agonized tone.
"'"No doubt of it," returned the other.
"'Now I would not believe any ill of Dolores, so I tried what I could to divert their attention. I threw myself so violently against the face of the leading mule as to make her miss her way, and nearly step over the brink of the precipice which the path they were travelling bordered; but Pepito was a practised muleteer, and caught her head in time to prevent an accident. Then I blew his hat over the edge, but he was as good a mountaineer as muleteer, and readily climbed down the steep side after it. I could do no more.
"'Damp mists were gathering along the banks of the Guadalquivir: my mission was to disperse them before they became injurious to health. I might not tarry, so I passed on my way, sighing through the tall trees. But before the sun rose next morning, I contrived to reach Pepito's cottage. No one was stirring, but I easily made my way in through the open windows. There lay in the bed in calm and peaceful slumber, the old man whom I had seen making up his bundle in glad expectation of his visit proving a joyful surprise. The doors and casements rattled for fear, as they always will do when they see me coming, and I was vexed to find my curiosity had thus disturbed the old man's sleep. But there was something worse than my coming to rouse him. First there was a noise of footsteps under the window, then the barking of the watchful dog, then the sound of some one climbing up the wall, then groping his way through the window. The old man started in his bed, nerved with the consciousness that he was the guardian for the time of his son-in-law's property; he hastily disengaged his navaja  from his belt by the bedside, and stood up to grapple with the intruder, who, similarly armed, advanced straight into the room with an assurance which showed he was no stranger.
"'Then I perceived that Pepito, misled by his perfidious friend, had returned in the night-time, so as to prove the truth of the report given him. When he found himself confronted by a man's arm, he felt no longer any doubt, but closed upon him in rage and fury. I had no heart to stay and see the result of a fight between two armed and desperate men, but I set up my loudest and most desolate howl, and swept madly through the pueblo . I made the branches of the trees crack, and the fittings of the houses clatter; wherever I saw a door or gate open, I set it banging to and fro, and by a supreme effort, I even moved the great church-bell so that it gave one or two deep tolls. Thus wakened, the people soon heard the cries and recriminations of the combatants, and ran out of their houses in numbers to track the sound.
"'It is part of my fate that I must ever be moving onward; I can never stand still and never go back, though I can make a grand sweep over a large tract of country, and so come round again to a place after a time. It was a long time, however, before I was able to work my way round after this, but one day I happened to overtake my sister the Breeze, and knowing the interest I had taken in the young couple under the parral, she immediately began telling me about them; I desired nothing more than to learn what had befallen them.
"'"Oh," she said, "I hope you will never have to go by there again, you couldn't bear it!"
"'I began to suspect what had happened that fatal night. "Then the neighbours were not in time to part the men after all?" I exclaimed.
"'"They were parted, but both died of their wounds next day."
"'"Dolores was so horror-stricken at the dreadful sight, that she entirely lost her reason. Some good people have taken her quite away, far, far off, thinking she may get better in an entirely different scene. But all the time she was here, I used to stir gently through the room to fan her burning forehead when the air was sultry; and I often looked deep into her eyes when they stared so wildly, seeking for Pepito and her father, who she always thought were coming to see her, and I always saw there a look which told me she was not long for this world."
"'"God take her in His mercy!" I exclaimed. "And the parral and the cottage, what of them?"
"'"All left desolate. The hares and the foxes have the grapes to themselves. No one will go to live in the house. No one will even pass by it if they can any how avoid going that way; and I hope you will keep away from it too, brother, for the sight would make you sad indeed."
"'Our ways parted here; and I was not sorry, for my heart was too full for more talk. I need hardly say that on the first opportunity I went to see how the old place looked. And sad enough it seemed; sadder even than now, because the memory of Pepito and Dolores was fresher upon it.
"'I feel so sad whenever I am there, that I moan and sigh, and the simple people say it is Pepito and his father-in-law crying out against each other. Sometimes, wild with anger, I feel ready to crumble the whole place to atoms--and then I dash down beams and stones and branches of trees; and then, again, I fear to lose all the traces I have loved so well, and I blow sand and mould and seeds of creeping plants to bind the scattered portions together, and root them again to the spot.'
"That's a dreadfully sad story, Lolita; it has made me feel shyer than ever of this dreary place."
"The Wind's stories are always melancholy, Ana dear; though you don't know his language, you hear that his tone is always plaintive."
"Then I don't want any more of the Wind's stories. I'll tell you what I like. I like the sights I see in the Sunbeam."
"Oh, tell me what you see in the Sunbeam!"
"Then you must come out of this dreary place, and sit down with me on the sunny bank yonder, and I'll tell you what I have seen."