The White Cat of Ecija
From the gates of the palace, situated on a gentle eminence in the vicinity of Ecija, down to the banks of the Genil, the ground was covered with olive-trees; and the wild aloes formed a natural and strong fence around the property of the White Cat of Ecija, whose origin, dating back to the days of Saracenic rule, was unknown to the liberated Spaniard.
There was a great mystery attaching to the palace and its occupants; and although the servants of the White Cat were to all appearances human beings, still, as they were deaf and dumb, and would not, or could not, understand signs, the neighbours had not been able to discover the secret or mystery.
The palace was a noble building, after the style of the alcazar at Toledo, but not so large; and the garden at the rear was laid out with many small lakes, round which, at short distances, stood beautifully sculptured statues of young men and women, who seemed to be looking sorrowfully into the water. Only the brain and hand of an exceptionally gifted artist could have so approached perfection as to make the statues look as if alive. At night strings of small lamps were hung round the lakes, and from the interior of the palace proceeded strains of sweet, but very sad music.
Curiosity had long ceased to trouble the neighbours as to the mysterious White Cat and her household, and, with the exception of crossing themselves when they passed by the grounds, they had given up the affair as incomprehensible.
Those, however, who had seen the White Cat, said that she was a beautiful creature; her coat was like velvet, and her eyes were like pearls.
One day a knight in armour, and mounted on a coal-black charger, arrived at the principal hostelry in Ecija, and on his shield he bore for his coat of arms a white cat rampant, and, underneath, the device, “Invincible.”
Having partaken of some slight repast, he put spurs to his horse and galloped in the direction of the palace of the White Cat; but as he was not seen to return through the town, the people supposed that he had left by some other road.