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The Hand in the Window

When Love Withers

In the now called Calzada Fray Antonio de San Miguel, Juan Núñez de Castro lived in a mansion, a good and poor man. His grandparents, in Spain, were nobles who had even had the honor of hosting Carlos V and Felipe II, but their lineage aroused conflict and they had to move to New Spain.

In Valladolid, Don Juan shared his life with his second wife, Doña Margarita de Estrada, and his only daughter, Leonor.

Accustomed to luxury life, Doña Margarita soon took her husband to ruin and for the time of this story, she was in charge of manipulating her family and squeezing every last coin of her husband.

Leonor was a young woman of incomparable beauty and sweetness, as all the young ladies are in the legends ...

Doña Margarita, on the other hand, was a ruthless oppressor: her daughter was forbidden to go to the window, to have friends or to walk in the streets, she could not adorn herself and even, her existence had to be a secret for all those outside the mansion. His life was focused on cleaning, cooking, washing and not making eye contact with anyone.

One day, a noble of the court of the viceroy called Don Manrique de la Serna and Frias toured Valladolid and saw Leonor, being impressed by its beauty. She also noticed and later received a letter where he asked to see her ... the place agreed was the basement gate where her mother kept her locked up, at eight o'clock at night.

Don Manrique was a senior officer of the viceregal secretariat, intelligent, handsome and with a good salary at court. If she appeared before Don Juan to ask for Leonor's hand, she would surely get it, but she wanted first to make sure of the feelings of the maid and devised a plan for it.

His page would dress as a friar with a skull painted on his face and around eight o'clock at night he would walk along the Calzada, in this way the superstitious would leave the place deserted so that he could converse with Leonor.

So it was for many days, the walkers fled in terror of the apparition and the lovers had the night to hold hands, talk and recite words of affection.

Doña Margarita, like everyone else, feared the specter, but decided to ignore the nightly laments and spy, seeking to reach the depths of the mystery. That was how he discovered the lovers in his lie and, possessed by anger, padlocked the basement door.

Don Manrique had to leave for Mexico City to discuss court matters and ask the viceroy for help in talking to Don Juan; while he was out of Valladolid to solve planting issues; In addition, Dona Margarita's yoke made it common that she did not see her daughter for days, despite being at home.

Under that situation, Leonor discovered her confinement ... without a gentleman to ask for help and with the absence of a father accustomed to not seeing her.

The first day he spent crying and without eating, but time passed and the need was so great that Leonor began to draw her hand through the window, asking for alms to anyone who could listen to her ... unfortunately, her mother realized what was happening and ran the voice that the girl was crazy: the food of the mansion was not enough for her and incessantly she asked for more.

The window became known for the pale, thin hand that came out, accompanied by a voice imploring a piece of bread.

Eventually, Don Manrique returned to Valladolid. Accompanied by an almost royal party, he went to Don Juan's house with a letter from the viceroy to ask for the hand of his beloved. Don Juan, excited, began to call his daughter to give him the news and when he did not find an answer, the servants who knew about the confinement told him everything ... how they were forbidden to help him and how Leonor's hand came out through the window.

When they opened the basement door they found the body of Leonor, who had died of hunger.

They say that, at night, it is still possible to see a pale and emaciated hand that appears through the grille, accompanied by a voice that implores a piece of bread ...

Leyenda de la mano en la reja

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