Summary (Masterplots, Definitive Revised Edition)
In the Square of the Cisterns, fronting the royal palace in the fortress of the Alhambra, was a deep Moorish well of clear, cold water. So famous was the well throughout all Granada that to it repaired water carriers from every quarter of the city, some bearing great earthen jars on their own sturdy shoulders, others, more prosperous, driving donkeys similarly burdened. The well was also a great place for meeting and gossip. Each day, housewives, lazy servants, beggars—idlers of every age and condition—gathered on the stone benches to talk over the doings of their neighbors and to exchange rumors that were afloat in the city.
Among the carriers who drew water from the ancient well of the Alhambra was a strong-backed, bandy-legged little fellow named Pedro Gil, called Peregil for short. He had begun his trade with only a single water jar, but since no one in all Granada was more industrious than he, it was not long before he was able to purchase a donkey to do his carrying for him. All day long, he trudged the streets calling his wares, and for every woman, old or young, he had a merry smile and a pleasing compliment. It was not surprising that everyone thought him the happiest of men. Yet Peregil’s heart was often heavy and sad. He had a brood of ragged children who were ravenous as young birds, so that it was all he could do to fill their mouths with food. His wife, grown slatternly and fat, nagged poor Peregil even while she spent his hard-earned...
(The entire section is 1359 words.)
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