PLATERO IS SMALL, DOWNY, SMOOTH—so soft to the touch that one would think he were all cotton, that he had no bones. Only the jet mirrors of his eyes are hard as two beetles of dark crystal.

I let him run loose and he goes off to the meadow; softly, scarcely touching them, he brushes his nose against the tiny flowers of pink, sky-blue and golden yellow. I call him gently: "Platero?" and he comes to me at a gay little trot as though he were laughing, lost in a clatter of fancy.

He eats everything I give him. He likes tangerines, muscatel grapes, all amber-colored and purple figs with their crystal point of honey.

He is tender and loving as a little boy, as a little girl; but strong and firm as a stone. When I ride him on Sunday through the lanes at the edge of the town, the men from the country, clean-dressed and slow-moving, stand still to watch him.

"He is made of steel."

He is made of steel. Both steel and quicksilver.