A MODERN Spanish writer gives the following solution of a popular tradition that a whale was once seen making its way up the Manzanáres. The Manzanáres is a singularly shallow river, at certain times of the year not half covering its bed, which rendered the tradition still more marvellous .
The solution is this: "A wine-merchant living on its banks was once unfortunate enough to have an accident in his storehouse or cellar, by which a number of wine-skins were sent floating down the stream. The wine-merchant ran along the bank, calling on the neighbours to arrest the float, the rather that one of the skins was full of wine; and as the danger of losing them increased, he went on crying frantically, "Una va llena!" ("One of them is full!")
Now Spaniards make but a scarcely perceptible difference between the sound of b and v, so that his cry sounded in the people's ears like una ballena, which would have meant a whale!
 Dumas has indulged his wit at the expense of the unfortunate river, and tells us that his son, being overcome by heat one day at the opera, the bystanders brought him a glass of water; but he refused it with admirable self-sacrifice, exclaiming, “Take it to the poor Manzanáres, its necessities are greater than mine.”
Whale of the Manzanáres, The
Patrañas; or, Spanish Stories, Legendary and Traditional
Griffith and Farran
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