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And sometimes the characters comment on the tale.

And sometimes the characters of the tale comment on the tale.

As soon as he left, Velásquez spoke and said,

‘I have tried in vain to concentrate all my attention on the gypsy chief’s words but I am unable to discover any coherence whatsoever in them. I do not know who is speaking and who is listening. Sometimes the Marqués de Val Florida is telling the story of his life to his daughter, sometimes it is she who is relating it to the gypsy chief, who in turn is repeating it to us. It is a veritable labyrinth. I had always thought that novels and other works of that kind should be written in several columns like chronological tables.’

‘You are right,’ said Rebecca. ‘One would find in one column, for example, the story of the Marquesa de Val Florida being unfaithful to her husband, in the next the effects this event had on him. That would no doubt clarify the story.’

‘That’s not what I mean,’ replied Velásquez. ‘Take the example of the Duke of Sidonia, whose character I am about to find out about although I have already seen him laid out dead on his bier. Wouldn’t it be better to start with the war in Portugal?’


When the gypsy had reached this point in his story, he was called away to his band. Velásquez then spoke and said,

‘Really, this story alarms me. All the gypsy’s stories begin in a simple enough way and you think you can already predict the end. But things turn out quite differently. The first story engenders the second, from which a third is born, and so on, like periodic fractions resulting from certain divisions which can be indefinitely prolonged. In mathematics, there are several ways of bringing certain progressions to a conclusion, whereas in this case, an inextricable confusion is the only result I can obtain from all the gypsy has related.’

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