When Jacinto Quesada was yet a very little Spaniard, his father kissed
him upon both cheeks and upon the brow, and went away on an enterprise
of forlorn desperation.
On a great rock at the brink of the village Jacinto Quesada stood with
his weeping mother, and together they watched the somber-faced
mountaineer hurry down the mountainside. He was bound for that hot,
sandy No Man's Land which lies between the British outpost, Gibraltar,
and sunburned, haggard, tragic Spain. The two dogs, Pepe and Lenchito,
went with him. They were pointers, retrievers. For months they had been
trained in the work they were to do. In all Spain there were no more
likely dogs for smuggling contraband.
The village, where Jacinto Quesada lived with his peasant mother, was
but a short way below the snow-line in the wild Sierra Nevada. Behind it
the Picacho de la Veleta lifted its craggy head; off to the northeast
bulked snowy old "Muley Hassan" Cerro de Mulhacen, the highest peak of
the peninsula; and all about were the bleak spires of lesser mountains,
boulder-strewn defiles, moaning dark gorges. The village was called
Minas de la Sierra.
The mother took the little Jacinto by the hand and led him to the
village chapel. She knelt before the dingy altar a long time. Then she
lit a blessed candle and prayed again. And then she handed the wick
dipped in oil to Jacinto and said:
"Light a candle for thy father, tiny one."
"But why should I light a candle for our Juanito, _mamacita_?"
"It is that Our Lady of the Sorrows and the Great Pity will not let him
be killed by the men of the _Guardia Civil_!"
"Men do not kill unless they hate. Do the men of the Guardia Civil hate,
then, the _pobre padre_ of me and the sweet husband of thee,
"It is not the hate, child! The men of the Guardia Civil kill any
breaker of the laws they discover guilty-handed. It is the way they keep
the peace of Spain."