History of Literature







Alain-René Lesage



"Gil Blas"


 



THE ADVENTURES OF GIL BLAS OF SANTILLANE

 

 

TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH BY TOBIAS SMOLLETT

 

 

 






 

BOOK THE FOURTH.


CH. I. -- Gil Blas not being able to reconcile himself to the
morals of the actresses, quits Arsenia, and gets into a more
reputable service.

A SURVIVING spark of honour and of religion, in the midst of so
general depravity, made me resolve not only to leave Arsenia, but
even to abjure all commerce with Laura, whom yet I could not
cease to love, though I was well aware of her daily inconstancy.
Happy the man who can thus profit by those appeals, which
occasionally interrupt the headlong course of his pleasures! One
fine morning, I made up my bundle; and, without reckoning with
Arsenia, who indeed owed me next to nothing, without taking leave
of my dear Laura, I burst from that mansion, which smelt of
brimstone and fire reserved for the wicked. I had no sooner taken
so virtuous a step, than providence interfered in my behalf. I
met the steward of my late master, Don Matthias, and greeted him:
he knew me again at once, and stopped to inquire where I lived. I
answered that I had just left my place; that after staying near a
month with Arsenia, whose manners did not at all suit me, I was
come away by a sudden impulse of virtue, to save my innocence.
The steward, just as if he had been himself of a religious cast,
commended my scruples, and offered me a place much to my
advantage, since I was so chaste and honest a youth. He kept his
word, and introduced me on that very day into the family of Don
Vincent de Gusman, with whose agent he was acquainted.

I could not have got into a better service; nor did I repent in
the sequel of having accepted the situation. Don Vincent was a
very rich old nobleman, who had lived many years unincumbered
with lawsuits or with a wife. The physicians had removed the last
plague out of the way, in their attempts to rid her of a cough,
which might have lasted a great while longer, if the remedies had
not been more fatal than the disease. Far from thinking of the
holy state a second time, he gave himself up entirely to the
education of his only daughter Aurora, who was then entering her
twenty-sixth year, and might pass for an accomplished person.
With beauty above the common, she had an excellent and highly
cultivated understanding. Her father was a poor creature as to
intellect; but he possessed the happy talent of looking well
after his affairs. One fault he had, of a kind excusable in old
men: he was an incessant talker, especially about war and
fighting. If that string was unfortunately touched in his
presence, in a moment he blew his heroic trumpet, and his hearers
might think themselves lucky if they compounded for a gazette
extraordinary of two sieges and three battles. As he had spent
two-thirds of his life in the service, his memory was an
inexhaustible depot of various facts; but the patience of the
listeners did not always keep pace with the perseverance of the
relater. The stories, sufficiently prolix in themselves, were
still further spun out by stuttering; so that the manner was
still less happy than the matter. In all other respects, I never
met with a nobleman of a more amiable character: his temper was
even; he was neither obstinate nor capricious; the general
alternative of men in the higher ranks of life. Though a good
economist, he lived like a gentleman. His establishment was
composed of several men servants, and three women in waiting on
Aurora. I soon discovered that the steward of Don Matthias had
procured me a good post, and my only anxiety was to establish
myself firmly in it. I took all possible pains to feel the ground
under my feet, and to study the characters of the whole
household: then regulating my conduct by my discoveries, I was
not long in ingratiating myself with my master and all the
servants.

I had been with Don Vincent above a month, when it struck me that
his daughter was very particular in her notice of me above all
the servants in the family. Whenever her eyes happened
accidentally to meet mine, they seemed to be suffused with a
certain partial complacency, which did not enter into her silent
communications with the vulgar. Had it not been for my haunts
among the coxcombs of the theatrical tribe and their hangers-on,
it would never have entered into my head that Aurora should throw
away a thought on me: but my brain had been a little turned among
those gentry, from whose libertine suspicions ladies of the
noblest birth are not always held sacred. If, said I, those
chronicles of the age are to be believed, fancy and high blood
lead women of quality a dance, in which they sometimes join hands
with unequal partners: how do I know but my young mistress may
caper to a tune of my piping? But no: it cannot be so, neither.
This is not one of your Messalinas, who, derogating from the
loftiness of ancestry, unworthily let down their regards to the
dust, and sully their pure honour without a blush: but rather one
of those virtuously apprehensive, yet tender-hearted girls, who
encircle their softness within the in surmountable pale of
delicacy; yet think it no tampering with chastity, to inspire and
cherish a sentimental flame, interesting to the heart without
being dangerous to the morals.

Such were my ideas of my mistress, without knowing exactly
whether they were right or wrong. And yet when we met, she was
continually caught with a smile of satisfaction on her
countenance. Without passing for a fop, a man might give in to
such flattering appearances; and a philosophical apathy was not
to be expected from me. I conceived Aurora to have been deeply
smitten with my irresistible attractions; and looked on myself
henceforth in the light of a favoured attendant, whose servitude
was to be sweetened by the balmy infusion of love. To appear in
some measure less unworthy of the blessings, which propitious
fortune had kept in store for me, I began to take better care of
my person than I had done heretofore. I laid out my slender stock
of money in linen, pomatums, and essences. The first thing in the
morning was to prank up and perfume myself, so as not to be in an
undress in case of being sent for into the presence of my
mistress. With these attentions to personal elegance and other
dexterous strokes in the art of pleasing, I flattered myself that
the moment of my bliss was not very distant.

Among Aurora's women there was one who went by the name of Ortiz.
This was an old dowager, who had been a fixture in Don Vincent's
family for more than twenty years. She had been about his
daughter from her childhood, and still held the office of duenna;
but she no longer performed the invidious part of the duty. On
the contrary, instead of blazoning, as formerly, Aurora's little
indiscretions, her skill was now employed in throwing them into
shade. One evening, Dame Ortiz, having watched her opportunity of
speaking to me with. out observation, said in a low voice, that
if I was close and trustworthy, I had only to be in the garden at
midnight, when a scene would be laid open in which I should not
be sorry to be an actor. I answered the duenna, pressing her hand
significantly, that I would not fail, and we parted in a hurry
for fear of a surprise. How the hours lagged from this moment
till supper-time, though we supped very early! Then again, from
supper to my master's bed-time! It should seem as if the march of
the whole family was timed to a largo movement. By way of helping
forward the fidgets, when Don Vincent withdrew to his chamber,
the army was put on the war establishment, and we were obliged to
fight the campaigns in Portugal over again, though my ears had
not recovered from the din of the last cannonade. But a favour,
from which I had hitherto made my escape, was reserved for this
eventful evening. He repeated the army list from beginning to
end, with copious digressions on the exploits of those officers
who had distinguished themselves in his time. Oh my poor
tympanum! It was almost cracked before we got to the end. Time,
however, will wear out even an old man's story, and he went to
bed. I immediately went to my own little chamber, whence there
was a way into the garden by a private staircase. I depended on
my purchase of perfumery for overcoming the effluvia of the day's
drudgery, and put on a clean shirt highly scented. When every
invention had been pressed into the service to render my person
worthy of its destiny, and cherish the fondness of my mistress, I
went to the appointment.

Ortiz was not there. I concluded that, tired of waiting for me,
she had gone back to her chamber, and that the happy moment of
philandering was over. I laid all the blame on Don Vincent; but
just as I was singing Te Deum backwards for his campaigns, I
heard the clock strike ten. To be sure it must be wrong! It could
not be less than one o'clock. Yet I was so egregiously out in my
reckoning, that full a quarter of an hour afterwards, I counted
ten upon my fingers by the clock at next door. Vastly well,
thought I to myself; I have only two complete hours to ventilate
my passion here alfresco. At least they shall not complain of me
for want of punctuality. What shall I do with myself till twelve?
Suppose we take a turn about this garden and settle our cues in
the delicious drama just going to be brought on the stage; it is
my first appearance in so principal a character. I am not yet
sufficiently well read in the crotchets of your quality dames. I
know how to tickle a girl in a stuff gown, or an actress: You
swagger up to them with an easy, impudent assurance, and pop the
question without making any bones of it. But one must take a
female of condition on a very different tack. It seems to me,
that in this case the happy swain must be well bred, attentive,
tender, respectful, without degenerating into bashfulness.
Instead of taking his happiness by storm, he must plant his
amorous desires in ambuscade, and wait till the garrison is
asleep, and the outworks defenceless.

Thus it was that I argued, and such were the preconcerted plans
of my campaign with Aurora. After a few tedious minutes,
according to my calculation, I was to experience the ecstasy of
finding myself at the feet of that lovely creature, and pouring
forth a torrent of impassioned nonsense. I scraped together in my
memory all the clap-traps in our stock-plays, which were most
successful with the audience, and might best set off my
pretensions to spirit and gallantry. I trusted to my own
adroitness for the application, and hoped, after the example of
some players in the list of my acquaintance, bringing only a
stock of memory into the trade, to deal upon credit for my wit.
While my imagination was engrossed by these thoughts, which kept
my impatience at bay much more successfully than the commentaries
of my modern Caesar, I heard the clock strike .eleven. This was
some encouragement, and I fell back to my meditations, sometimes
sauntering carelessly about, and sometimes throwing myself at my
length on the turf, in a bower at the bottom of the garden. At
length it struck twelve, the long-expected hour, big with my high
destiny. Some seconds after, Ortiz, as punctual as myself though
less impatient, made her appearance. Signor Gil Blas, said she,
accosting me, how long have you been here? Two hours, answered I.
Indeed! Truly, replied she, laughing, you are very exact; there
is a pleasure in making nocturnal assignations with you.
Yet you may assure yourself; continued she more gravely, that you
cannot pay too dear for such good fortune as that of which I am
the messenger. My mistress wants to have some private talk with
you. I shall not anticipate what may be the subject, that is a
secret which you must learn from no lips but her own. Follow me;
I will show you into her chamber. With these words the duenna
took me by the hand, and led me mysteriously into her lady's
apartment through a little door, of which she had the key.


CH. II. -- Aurora's reception of Gil Blas. Their conversation.

I FOUND Aurora in an undress. I saluted her in the most
respectful manner, and threw as much elegance into my attitude as
I had to throw. She received me with the most winning affability,
made me sit down by her against all my remonstrances, and told
her ambassadress to go into another room. After this opening,
which seemed highly encouraging to my cause, she entered upon the
business. Gil Blas, said she, you must have perceived how
favourably I have regarded and distinguished you from all the
rest of my father's servants; and though my looks had not
betrayed my partial dispositions towards you, my proceeding of
this night would leave you no room to doubt them.

I did not give her time to say a word more. It struck me, that as
a man of feeling, I ought to spare her trembling diffidence the
cruel necessity of explaining her sentiments in more direct
terms. I rose from my chair in a transport, and, throwing myself
at Aurora's feet, like a tragedy hero of the Grecian stage when
he supplicates the heroine "by her knees," exclaimed in a
declamatory tone -- Ah! Madam, could it be possible that Gil
Blas, hitherto the whirligig of fortune and football of embattled
nature, should have called down upon his head the exquisite
felicity of inspiring sentiments Do not speak so loud,
interrupted my mistress with a laugh of mingled apprehension and
ridicule, you will wake my women who sleep in the adjoining
chamber. Get up, take your seat, and hear me out without putting
in a word. Yes, Gil Blas, pursued she, resuming her gravity, you
have my best wishes; and to shew you how deep you are in my good
graces, I will confide to you a secret on which depends the
repose of my life. I am in love with a young gentleman,
possessing every charm of person and face, and noble by birth.
His name is Don Lewis Pacheco. I have seen him occasionally in
the public walks and at the theatre, but I have never conversed
with him. I do not even know what his private character may be,
or what bad qualities he may have. It is on this subject that I
wish to be informed. I stand in need of a person to inquire
diligently into his morals, and give me a true and particular
account. I make choice of you. Surely I run no risk in entrusting
you with this commission. I hope that you will acquit yourself
with dexterity and prudence, and that I shall never repent of
giving you my confidence.

My mistress concluded thus, and waited for my answer to her
proposal. I had been disconcerted in the first instance at so
disagreeable a mistake; but I soon recovered my scattered senses,
and surmounting the confusion which rashness always occasions
when it is unlucky, I exposed to sale such a cargo of zeal. For
the lady's interests, I devoted myself with so martyr-like an
enthusiasm to her service, that if she did not absolutely forget
my silly vanity in the thought of having pleased her, at least
she had reason to believe that I knew how to make amends for a
piece of folly. I asked only two days to bring her a satisfactory
account of Don Lewis. After which Dame Ortiz, answering the bell,
shewed me the way back into the garden, and said, on taking
leave, Good-night, Gil Blas. I need not caution you to be in time
at the next appointment. I have sufficient experience of your
punctuality on these occasions.

I returned to my chamber, not without some little mortification
at finding my voluptuous anticipations all divested of even their
ideal sweetness. I was nevertheless sufficiently in my senses to
reflect soberly that it was more in my element to be the trusty
scout of my mistress than her lover. I even thought that this
adventure might lead to something further; that the middle men in
the trade of love usually pocket a tolerable percentage; and went
to bed with the resolution of doing whatever Aurora required of
me. For this purpose I went abroad the next morning. The
residence of so distinguished a personage as Don Lewis was not
difficult to find out. I made my enquiries about him in the
neighbourhood, but the people who came in my way could not
satisfy my curiosity to the full, so that it was necessary to
resume my search diligently on the following day. I was in better
luck. I met a lad of my acquaintance by chance in the street, we
stopped for a little gossip. There passed by in the very nick one
of his friends, who came up and told him that he was just turned
away from the family of Don Joseph Pacheco, Don Lewis's father,
about a paltry remnant of wine, which he had been accused of
drinking. I would not lose so fair an occasion of learning all I
wanted to know, and plied my questions so successfully as to go
home with much self-complacency, at my punctual performance of my
engagements with my mistress. It was on the coming night that I
was to see her again at the same hour and in the same manner as
the first time. I was not in such a confounded hurry this
evening. Far from writhing with impatience under the prolixity of
my old commander, I led him on to the charge. I waited for
midnight with the greatest indifference in the world, and it was
not till all the clocks within ear-shot had struck that I crept
down into the garden, without any nonsense of pomatum and
perfumery. That foppery was completely cured.

At the place of meeting I found the very faithful duenna, who
sneeringly reproached me with a defalcation in my zeal. I made
her no answer, but suffered myself to be conducted into Aurora's
chamber. She asked me, as soon as I made my appearance, whether I
had gained any intelligence of Don Lewis. Yes, madam, said I, and
you shall have the sum total in two words. I must first tell you,
that he will soon set out for Salamanca, to finish his studies.
The young gentleman is brim full of honour and probity. As for
valour, he cannot be deficient there, since he is a man of birth
and a Castilian. Besides this, he has an infinite deal of wit,
and is very agreeable in his manners; but there is one thing
which can scarcely be to your liking. He is pretty much in the
fashion of our young nobility here at court -- exemplarily
catholic in his devotions to the fair. Have you not heard that at
his age he has already been tenant at will to two actresses? What
is it you tell me? replied Aurora. What shocking conduct! But do
you know for certain, Gil Blas, that he leads so dissolute a
life? Oh! there is no doubt of it, madam, rejoined I. A servant,
turned off this morning, told me so, and servants are very plain
dealers when the failings of their masters are the topic.
Besides, he keeps company with Don Alexo Segiar, Don Antonio
Centellйs, and Don Fernando de Gamboa; that single circumstance
proves his libertinism with all the force of demonstration. It is
enough, Gil Blas, said my mistress with a sigh; on your report I
am determined to struggle with my unworthy passion. Though it has
already struck deep root in my heart, I do not despair of tearing
it forcibly from its bed. Go, added she, putting into my hands a
small purse, none of the lightest, take this for your pains.
Beware of betraying my secret. Consider it as entrusted to your
silence.

I assured my mistress that she might be perfectly easy on that
score, for I was the Harpocrates of confidential servants. After
this compliment to myself, I withdrew with no small eagerness to
investigate the contents of the purse. There were twenty
pistoles. It struck me all at once that Aurora would surely have
given me more had I been the bearer of pleasant tidings, since
she paid so handsomely for a blank in the lottery. I was sorry
not to have adopted the policy of the pleaders in the courts, who
sometimes paint the cheek of truth when her natural complexion is
inclined to be cadaverous. It was a pity to have stifled an amour
in the birth which might in its growth have been so profitable.
Yet I had the comfort of finding myself reimbursed the expense so
unseasonably incurred in perfumery and washes.


CH. III. -- A great change at Don Vincent's. Aurora's strange
resolution.

IT happened soon after this adventure that Signor Don Vincent
fell sick. Independent of his very advanced age, the symptoms of
his disorder appeared in so formidable a shape that a fatal
termination was but too probable. From the beginning of his
illness he was attended by two of the most eminent physicians in
Madrid. One was Doctor Andros, and the other Doctor Oquetos. They
considered the case with due solemnity; and both agreed, after a
strict investigation, that the humours were in a state of mutiny,
but this was the only thing about which they did agree. The
proper practice, said Andros, is to purge the humours, though
raw, with all possible expedition, while they are in a violent
agitation of flux and reflux, for fear of their fixing upon some
noble part. Oquetos maintained, on the contrary, that we must
wait till the humours were ripened before it would be safe to go
upon purgatives. But your method, replied the first speaker, is
directly in the teeth of the rules laid down by the prince of
medicine. Hippocrates recommends purging in the most burning
fever from the very first attack, and says in plain terms that no
time is to be lost in purging when the humours are in ???asµ??
{orgasmos}, that is to say, in a state of fermentation. Ay! there
is your mistake, replied Oquetos. Hippocrates by the word
???asµ?? {orgasmos} does not mean the fermentation, he means
rather the concoction of the humours.

Thereupon our doctors got heated. One quotes the Greek text, and
cites all the authors who have explained it in his sense; the
other, trusting to a Latin translation, takes up the controversy
in a still more positive tone. Which of the two to believe? Don
Vincent was not the man to decide that question. In the mean
time, finding himself obliged to choose, he gave his confidence
to the party who had dispatched the greatest number of patients -
- I mean the elder of the two. Andros, the younger, immediately
withdrew, not without flinging out a few satirical taunts at his
senior on the ???asµ?? {orgasmos}. Here then was Oquetos
triumphant. As he was a professor of the Sangrado school, he
began by bleeding copiously, waiting till the humours were
ripened before he went upon purgatives. But death, fearing, no
doubt, lest this reserve of purgatives should turn the fortunes
of the day, got the start of the concoction, and secured his
victory over my master by a coup-de-main. Such was the final
close of Signor Don Vincent, who had lost his life because his
physician did not know Greek.

Aurora having buried her father with a pomp suited to the dignity
of his birth, administered to his effects. Having the whole
arrangement of everything in her own breast, she discharged some
of the servants with rewards proportioned to their services, and
soon retired to her castle on the Tagus, between Sacedon and
Buendia. I was among the number of those whom she kept, and who
made part of her country establishment. I had even the good
fortune to become a principal agent in the plot. In spite of my
faithful report on the subject of Don Lewis, she still harboured
a partiality for that bewitching young fellow; or rather, for
want of spirit to combat her passion in the first instance, she
surrendered at discretion. There was no longer any need of taking
precautions to speak with me in private. Gil Blas, said she with
a sigh, I can never forget Don Lewis. Let me make what effort I
will to banish him from my thoughts, he is present to them
without intermission, not as you have described him, plunged in
every variety of licentious riot, but just what my fancy would
paint him -- tender, loving, constant. She betrayed considerable
emotion in uttering these words, and could not help shedding
tears. My fountains were very near playing from mere sympathy.
There was no better way of paying my court than by appearing
sensibly touched at her distress. My friend, continued she, after
having wiped her lovely eyes, your nature is evidently cast in a
benevolent mould; and I am so well satisfied with your zeal that
it shall not go unrewarded. Your assistance, my dear Gil Blas, is
more necessary to me than ever. You must be made acquainted with
a plan which engrosses all my thoughts, though it will appear
strangely eccentric. You are to know that I mean to set out for
Salamanca as soon as possible. There my design is to assume the
disguise of a fashionable young fellow, and to make acquaintance
with Pacheco under the name of Don Felix. I shall endeavour to
gain his confidence and friendship, and lead the conversation
incidentally to the subject of Aurora de Guzman, for whose cousin
I shall pass. He may perhaps express a wish to see her, and there
is the point on which I expect the interest to turn. We will have
two apartments in Salamanca. In one I shall be Don Felix, in the
other, Aurora; and I flatter myself that by presenting my person
before Don Lewis, sometimes under the semblance of a man,
sometimes in all the natural and artificial attractions of my own
sex, I may bring him by little and little to the proposed end of
my stratagem. I am perfectly aware that my project is extravagant
in the highest degree, but my passion drives me headlong; and the
innocence of my intentions renders me insensible to all
compunctious feelings of virgin apprehension respecting so
hazardous a step.

I was exactly in the same mind with Aurora respecting the
extravagance of her scheme. Yet, unseasonable as it might seem to
reflecting persons like myself, there was no occasion for me to
play the schoolmaster. On the contrary, I began to practise all
the arts of a thorough-bred special pleader, and undertook to
magnify this hair-brained pursuit into a piece of incomparable
wit and spirit, without the least tincture of imprudence. This
was highly gratifying to my mistress. Lovers like to have their
rampant fancies tickled. We no longer considered this rash
enterprise in any other light than as a play, of which the
characters were to be properly cast, and the business
dramatically arranged. The actors were chosen out of our own
domestic establishment, and the parts distributed without secret
jealousy or open rupture, but then we were not players by
profession. It was determined that Dame Ortiz should personate
Aurora's aunt, under the name of Donna Kimena de Guzman, with a
valet and waiting-maid by way of attendance; and that Aurora,
with the swashing outside of a gay spark, was to take me for her
valet-de-chambre, with one of her women disguised as a page, to
be more immediately about her person. The drama thus filled up we
returned to Madrid, where we understood Don Lewis still to be,
though it was not likely to be long till his departure for
Salamanca. We got up with all possible haste the dresses and
decorations of our wild comedy. When they were in complete order,
my mistress had them packed up carefully, that they might come
out in all their gloss and newness on the rising of the curtain.
Then, leaving the care of her family to her steward, she began
her journey in a coach drawn by four mules, and travelled towards
the kingdom of Leon, with those of her household who had some
part to play in the piece.

We had already crossed Old Castile, when the axle-tree of the
coach gave way. The accident happened between Avila and
Villaflor, at the distance of three or four hundred yards from a
castle near the foot of a mountain. Night was coming on, and the
measure of our troubles seemed to be heaped up and overflowing.
But there passed accidentally by us a countryman, by whose
assistance we were relieved from our difficulties. He acquainted
us that the castle yonder belonged to Donna Elvira, widow of Don
Pedro de Penarйs; at the same time giving us so favourable a
character of that lady, that my mistress sent me to the castle
with a request of a night's lodging. Elvira did not disgrace the
good word of the countryman. She received me with an air of
hospitality, and returned such an answer to my compliment as I
wished to carry back. We all went to the castle, whither the
mules dragged the carriage with considerable difficulty. At the
gate we met the widow of Don Pedro, who came out to meet my
mistress. I shall pass over in silence the reciprocal civilities
which were exchanged on this occasion, in compliance with the
usage of the polite world. I shall only say that Elvira was a
lady rather advanced in years, but remarkably well bred, with an
address superior to that of most women in doing the honours of
her house. She led Aurora into a sumptuous apartment, where,
leaving her to rest herself for a short time, she looked after
everything herself, and left nothing undone which could in the
least contribute to our comfort. Afterwards, when supper was
ready, she ordered it to be served up in Aurora's chamber, where
they sat down to table together. Don Pedro's widow was not of a
description to cast a slur on her own hospitalities, by assuming
an air of abstraction or sullenness. Her temper was gay, and her
conversation lively without levity; for her ideas were dignified,
and her expressions select. Nothing could exceed her wit,
accompanied by a peculiarly fine turn of thought. Aurora appeared
as much to be delighted as myself. They became sworn friends, and
mutually engaged in a regular correspondence. As our carriage
could not be repaired till the following day, and we should have
encountered some perils by setting out late at night, it was
determined that we should take up our abode at the castle till
the damage was made good. All the arrangements were in the first
style of elegance, and our lodgings were correspondent to the
magnificence of the establishment in other respects.

The day after, my mistress discovered new charms in Elvira's
conversation. They dined in a large hall, where there were
several pictures. One among the rest was distinguished for its
admirable execution, but the subject was highly tragic. A
principal figure was a man of superior mien, lying lifeless on
his back, and bathed in his own blood; yet in the very embraces
of death he wore a menacing aspect. At a little distance from him
you might see a young lady in a different posture, though
stretched likewise on the ground. She had a sword plunged in her
bosom, and was giving up her last sighs, at the same time casting
her dying glances at a young man who seemed to suffer a mortal
pang at losing her. The painter had besides charged his picture
with a figure which did not escape my notice. It was an old man
of a venerable physiognomy, sensibly touched with the objects
which struck his sight, and equally alive with the young man to
the impressions of the melancholy scene. It might be said that
these images of blood and desolation affected both the spectators
with the same astonishment and grief, but that the outward
demonstrations of their in ward sentiments were different. The
old man, sunk in a profound melancholy, looked as if he was bowed
down to the ground; while the youth mingled some thing like the
extravagance of despair with the tears of affliction. All these
circumstances were depicted with touches so characteristic and
affecting, that we could not take our eyes off the performance.
My mistress desired to know the subject of the piece. Madam, said
Elvira, it is a faithful delineation of the misfortunes sustained
by my family. This answer excited Aurora's curiosity; and she
testified so strong a desire to learn the particulars, that the
widow of Don Pedro could do no otherwise than promise her the
satisfaction she desired. This promise, made before Ortiz, her
two fellow-servants, and myself, rooted us to the spot on which
we were listening to their former conversation. My mistress would
have sent us away; but Elvira, who saw plainly that we were dying
with eagerness to be present at the explanation of the picture,
had the goodness to desire us to stay, alleging at the same time
that the story she had to relate was not of a nature to enjoin
secrecy. After a moment's recollection, she began her recital to
the following effect: --


CH. IV. -- The Fatal Marriage; a Novel.

ROGER, king of Sicily, had a brother and a sister. His brother,
by name Mainfroi, rebelled against him, and kindled a war in the
kingdom, bloody in its immediate effects, and portentous in its
future consequences. But it was his fate to lose two battles, and
to fall into the king's hands. The punishment of his revolt
extended no further than the loss of liberty. This act of
clemency served only to make Roger pass for a barbarian in the
estimation of the disaffected party among his subjects. They
contended that he had saved his brother's life only to wreak his
vengeance on him by tortures the more merciless because
protracted. People in general, on better grounds, transferred the
blame of Mainfroi's harsh treatment while in prison to his sister
Matilda. That princess had, in fact, cherished a long-rooted
hatred against this prince, and was indefatigable in her
persecutions during his whole life. She died in a very short time
after him, and her premature fate was considered as the
retribution of a just providence for her disregard of those
sentiments implanted by nature for the best purposes.

Mainfroi left behind him two sons. They were yet in their
childhood. Roger had a kind of lurking desire to get rid of them,
under the apprehension lest, when arrived at a more advanced age,
the wish of avenging their father might hurry them to the revival
of a faction which was not so entirely overthrown as to be
incapable of originating new intrigues in the state. He
communicated his purpose to the senator Leontio Siffredi, his
minister, who diverted him from his bloody thoughts by
undertaking the education of Prince Enriquez, the eldest, and
recommending the care of the younger, by name Don Pedro, to the
constable of Sicily, as a trusty counsellor and loyal servant.
Roger, assured that his nephews would be trained up by these two
men in principles of due submission to the royal authority, gave
up the reins of guardianship to their control, and himself took
charge of his niece Constance. She was of the same age with
Enriquez, and only daughter of the princess Matilda. He allowed
her an establishment of female attendants, and of masters in
every branch of the politer studies, so that nothing was wanting
either to her instruction or her state.

Leontio Siffredi had a castle at the distance of less than two
leagues from Palermo, in a spot named Belmonte. There it was that
this minister exerted all his talents and diligence, to render
Enriquez worthy of one day ascending the throne of Sicily. From
the first, he discovered dispositions so amiable in that prince,
that his attachment became as strong as if he had no child of his
own. He had, however, two daughters -- Blanche, the first-born,
one year younger than the prince, was armed at all points with
the weapons of a most perfect beauty. Her sister Portia was still
in her cradle. The mother had died in child-bed of this youngest.
Blanche and Prince Enriquez conceived a reciprocal affection as
soon as they were alive to the influence of love: but they were
not allowed to improve their acquaintance into familiar
intercourse. The prince nevertheless found the means of
occasionally eluding the prudential vigilance of his guardian. He
knew sufficiently well how to avail himself of those precious
moments, and prevailed so far with Siffredi's daughter, as to
gain her consent to the execution of a project which he
meditated. It happened precisely at this time that Leontio was
obliged by the king's order to take a journey into one of the
most remote provinces in the island. During his absence Enriquez
got an opening made in the wall of his apartment, which led into
Blanche's chamber. This opening was concealed by a sliding
shutter, so exactly corresponding with the wainscot, and so
closely fitting in with the ceiling and the floor, that the most
suspicious eye could not have detected the contrivance. A skilful
workman, whom the prince had gained over to his interests, helped
him to this private communication with equal speed and secrecy.

The enamoured Enriquez having obtained this inlet into his
mistress's chamber, sometimes availed himself of his privilege;
but he never took advantage of her partiality. Imprudent as it
may well be thought, to admit of a secret entrance into her
apartment, it was only on the express and reiterated assurance
that none but the most innocent favours should be requested at
her hands. One night he found her in a state of unusual
perturbation. She had been informed that Roger was drawing near
his end, and had sent for Siffredi as lord high chancellor of the
kingdom, and the legal depository of his last will and testament.
Already did she figure to herself her dear Enriquez elevated to
royal honours. She was afraid of losing her lover in her
sovereign, and that fear had strangely affected her spirits. The
tears were standing in her eyes, when the unconscious cause of
them appeared before her. You weep, madam, said he, what am I to
think of this overwhelming grief? My lord, answered Blanche, it
were vain for me to hide my apprehensions. The king your uncle is
at the point of death, and you will soon be called to supply his
place. When I measure the distance placed between us by your
approaching greatness, I will own to you that my mind misgives
me. The monarch and the lover estimate objects through a far
different medium. What constituted the fondest wish of the
individual, while his aspiring thoughts were checked by the
control of a superior, fades into insignificance before the
tumultuous cares or brilliant destinies of royalty. Be it the
misgiving of an anxious heart, or the whisper of a well-founded
opinion, I feel distracting emotions succeed one another in my
breast, which not all my just confidence in your goodness can
allay. The source of my mistrust is not in the suspected
steadiness of your attachment, but in a diffidence of my own
happy fate. Lovely and beloved Blanche, replied the prince, your
fears but bind me the more firmly in your fetters, and warrant my
devotion to your charms. Yet this excessive indulgence of a fond
jealousy borders on disloyalty to love, and, if I may venture to
say so, trenches on the esteem to which my constancy has hitherto
entitled me. No, no, never entertain a doubt that my destiny can
ever be sundered from yours, but rather indulge the pleasing
anticipation, that you, and you alone, will be the arbitress of
my fate, and the source of all my bliss. Away, then, with these
vain alarms. Why must they disturb an intercourse so charming?
Ah! my lord, rejoined the daughter of Leontio, your subjects,
when they place the crown upon your head, may ask of you a
princess-queen, descended from a long line of kings, whose
glittering alliance shall join new realms to your hereditary
estates. Perhaps, alas! you will meet their ambitious aims, even
at the expense of your softest vows. Nay, why, resumed Enriquez,
with rising passion, why too ready a self-tormentor, do you raise
so afflicting a phantom of futurity? Should heaven take the king
my uncle to itself, and place Sicily under my dominion, I swear
to unite myself with you at Palermo, in presence of my whole
court. To this I call to witness all which is held sacred and
inviolable among men.

The protestations of Enriquez removed the fears of Siffredi's
daughter. The rest of their discourse turned on the king's
illness. Enriquez displayed the goodness of his natural
disposition, for he pitied his uncle's lot, though he had no
reason to be greatly affected by it; but the force of blood
extorted from him sentiments of regret for a prince whose death
held out an immediate prospect of the crown. Blanche did not yet
know all the misfortunes which hung over her. The constable of
Sicily, who had met her coming out of her father's apartment, one
day when he was at the castle of Belmonte on some business of
importance, was struck with admiration. The very next day, he
made proposals to Siffredi, who entertained his offer favourably;
but the illness of Roger taking place unexpectedly about that
time, the marriage was put off for the present, and the subject
had not been hinted at in the most distant manner to Blanche.

One morning, as Enriquez had just finished dressing, he was
surprised to see Leontio enter his apartment, followed by
Blanche. Sir, said this minister, the news I have to announce
will in some degree afflict your excellent heart, but it is
counteracted by consoling circumstances which ought to moderate
your grief. The king your uncle has departed this life; and by
his death left you the heir of his sceptre. Sicily is at your
feet. The nobility of the kingdom wait your orders at Palermo.
They have commissioned me to receive them in person, and I come,
my liege, with my daughter to pay you the earliest and sincerest
homage of your new subjects. The prince, who was well aware that
Roger had been for two months sinking under a complaint gradual
in its progress but fatal in its nature, was not astonished at
this news. And yet, struck with his sudden exaltation, he felt a
thousand confused motions rising up by turns in his heart. He
mused for some time, then breaking silence, addressed these words
to Leontio -- Wise Siffredi, I have always considered you as my
father. I shall make it my glory to be governed by your counsels,
and you shall reign in Sicily with a sway paramount to my own.
With these words, advancing to the standish and taking a blank
sheet of paper, he wrote his name at the bottom. What are you
doing, sir? said Siffredi. Proving my gratitude and my esteem,
answered Enriquez. Then the prince presented the paper to
Blanche, and said -- Accept, madam, this pledge of my faith, and
of the empire with which I invest you over my thoughts and
actions. Blanche received it with a blush, and made this answer
to the prince -- I acknowledge with all humility the
condescensions of my sovereign, but my destiny is in the hands of
a father, and you must not consider me as ungrateful if I deposit
this flattering token in his custody, to be used according to the
dictates of his sage discretion.

In compliance with these sentiments of filial duty, she gave the
sign manual of Enriquez to her father. Then Siffredi saw at once
what till that moment had eluded his penetration. He entered
dearly into the prince's sentiments, and said: Your majesty shall
have no reproaches to make me. I shall not act unworthily of the
confidence . . . . My dear Leontio, interrupted Enriquez, you and
unworthiness never can be allied. Make what use you please of my
signature. I shall confirm your determination. But go, return to
Palermo, prescribe the ceremonies for my coronation there, and
tell my subjects that I shall follow you in person immediately,
to receive their oaths of allegiance, and assure them of my
protection in return. The minister obeyed the commands of his new
master, and set out for Palermo with his daughter.

Some hours after their departure, the prince also left Belmonte,
with his thoughts more intent on his passion than on the high
rank to which he was called. Immediately on his arrival in the
city, the air was rent with a thousand cries of joy. He made his
entry into the palace amid the acclamations of the people, and
everything was ready for the august formalities. The Princess
Constance was waiting to receive him, in a magnificent mourning
dress. She appeared deeply affected by Roger's death. The customs
of society required from them a reciprocal compliment of
condolence on the late event; and they each of them acquitted
themselves with good breeding and propriety. But there was
somewhat more coldness on the part of Enriquez than on that of
Constance, who could not enter into family quarrels, and resolved
on hating the young prince. He placed himself on the throne, and
the princess sate beside him, in a chair of state a little less
elevated. The great officers of the realm fell into their places,
each according to his rank. The ceremony began; and Leontio, as
lord high chancellor of the kingdom, holding in his possession
the will of the late king, opened it, and read the contents
aloud. This instrument contained in substance that Roger, in
default of issue, nominated the eldest son of Mainfroi his
successor, on condition of his marrying the Princess Constance;
and in the event of his refusing her hand, the crown of Sicily
was to devolve, to his exclusion, on the head of the infant Don
Pedro, his brother, on the like condition.

These words were a thunderstroke to Enriquez. His senses were all
bewildered even to distraction; and his agonies became still more
acute, when Leontio, having finished the reading of the will,
addressed the assembly at large to the following effect: My
lords, the last injunctions of the late king having been made
known to our new monarch, that pious and excellent prince
consents to honour his cousin the Princess Constance with his
hand. At these words Enriquez interrupted the chancellor.
Leontio, said he, remember the writing; Blanche. . . . Sire,
interrupted Siffredi in his turn with precipitation, lest the
prince should find an opportunity of making himself understood,
here it is. The nobility of the kingdom, added he, exhibiting the
blank paper to the assembly, will see by your majesty's august
subscription, the esteem in which you hold the princess, and your
implicit deference to the last will of the late king your uncle.

Having finished these words, he forthwith began reading the
instrument in such terms as he had himself inserted. According to
the contents, the new king gave a promise to his people, with
formalities the most binding and authentic, that he would marry
Constance, in conformity with the intention of Roger. The hall
re-echoed with pealing shouts of satisfaction. Long live our high
and mighty King Enriquez! exclaimed all those who were present.
As the marked aversion of the prince for the princess had never
been any secret, it was apprehended, not without reason, that he
might revolt against the condition of the will, and light up the
flame of civil discord in the kingdom; but the public enunciation
of this solemn act, quieting the fears of the nobility and the
people on that head, excited these universal applauses, which
went to the monarch's heart like the stab of an assassin.
Constance, who had a nearer interest than any human being in the
result, from the double motive of glory and personal affection,
laid hold of this opportunity for expressing her gratitude. The
prince had much ado to keep his feelings within bounds. He
received the compliment of the princess with so constrained an
air, and evinced so unusual a disorder in his behaviour, as
scarcely to reply in a manner suited to the common forms of good
breeding. At last, no longer master of his violent passions, he
went up to Siffredi, whom the formalities of his office detained
near the royal person, and said to him in a low tone of voice --
What is the meaning of all this, Leontio? The signature which I
deposited in your daughter's hands was not meant for such a use
as this. You are guilty of . . . .

My liege, interrupted Siffredi again with a tone of firmness,
look to your own glory. If you refuse to comply with the
injunctions of the king, your uncle, you lose the crown of
Sicily. No sooner had he thrown in this salutary hint, than he
got away from the king, to prevent all possibility of a reply.
Enriquez was left in a most embarrassing situation. A thousand
opposite emotions agitated him at once. He was exasperated
against Siffredi: to give up Blanche was more than he could
endure: so that, balancing between his private feelings and the
calls of public honour, he was doubtful to which side he should
incline. At length his doubts were resolved, under the idea of
having found the means to secure Siffredi's daughter, without
giving up his claim to the throne. He affected therefore an
entire submission to the will of Roger, in the hope, while a
dispensation from his marriage with his cousin was soliciting at
Rome, of gaining the leading nobility by his largesses, and thus
establishing his power so firmly, as not to be under the
necessity of fulfilling the conditions of the obnoxious
instrument.

After forming this design, he got to be more composed; and
turning towards Constance, confirmed to her what the lord high
chancellor had read in presence of the whole assembly. But, at
the very moment when he had so far betrayed himself as to pledge
his faith, Blanche arrived in the hall of council. She came
thither, by her father's command, to pay her duty to the
princess; and her ears, on entering, were startled at the
expressions of Enriquez. In addition to this shock, Leontio,
determined not to leave her in doubt of her misfortune,
accompanied her presentation to Constance with these words:
Daughter, make your homage acceptable to your queen; call down
upon her the blessings of a prosperous reign and a happy
marriage. This terrible blow overwhelmed the unfortunate Blanche.
Vain were all her attempts to suppress her anguish; her
countenance changed successively from the deepest blush to a
deadly paleness, and she trembled from head to foot. And yet the
princess had no suspicion how the matter really stood; but
attributed the confused style of her compliment to the
awkwardness of a young person brought up in a state of
rustication, and totally unacquainted with the manners of a
court. But the young king was more in the secret. The sight of
Blanche put him out of countenance: and the despair, too legible
in her eyes, was enough to drive him out of his senses. Her
feelings were not to be misunderstood; and they pointed at him as
the most faithless of men. Could he have spoken to her, it might
have tranquillized his agitation: but how to lay hold of the
happy moment, when all Sicily, at least the illustrious part of
it, was fixed in anxious expectation on his proceedings? Besides,
the stern and inflexible Siffredi extinguished at once every ray
of hope. This minister, who was at no loss to decipher the hearts
of the two lovers, and was firmly resolved, if possible, to
prevent the evil consequences impending over the state from the
violence of this imprudent attachment, got his daughter out of
the assembly with the dexterity of a practised courtier, and
regained the road to Belmonte with her in his possession,
determined, for more reasons than one, to marry her as soon as
possible.

When they reached home, he gave her to understand all the horror
of her destiny, by announcing his promise to the constable. Just
heaven! exclaimed she, transported into a paroxysm of despair,
which her father's presence could not restrain, what unparalleled
sufferings have you the cruelty to lay up in store for the ill-
fated Blanche? Her agony went to such a degree of violence as to
suspend every power of her soul. Her limbs seemed as if stiffened
under the icy grasp of death. Cold and pale, she fell senseless
into her father's arms. Neither was he insensible to her
melancholy condition. Yet, feeling as he did all the alarm and
anxiety of a parent, the stern inflexibility of the statesman
remained unshaken. Blanche, after a time, was recalled to life
and feeling, rather by the keenness of her mental pangs than by
the means which Siffredi used for her recovery. Languishingly did
she raise her scarcely conscious eyes: when glancing on the
author of her misery, as he was anxiously employed about her
person; . . . . My lord, said she, with inarticulate and
convulsive accents, I am ashamed to let you see my weakness: but
death, which cannot be long in finishing my torments, will soon
rid you of a wretched daughter, who has ventured to dispose of
her heart without consulting you. No, my dear Blanche, answered
Leontio, your death would be too dear a sacrifice: Virtue will
resume her empire over your actions. The constable's proposals do
you honour; it is one of the most considerable alliances in the
state . . . . I esteem his person and am sensible of his merit,
interrupted Blanche; but, my lord, the king had given me
encouragement to indulge . . . . Daughter, vociferated Siffredi,
breaking in upon her discourse, I anticipate all you have to say
on that subject. Your partiality for the prince is no secret to
me, nor would it meet my disapprobation under other
circumstances. You should even see me active and ardent to secure
for you the hand of Enriquez, if the cause of glory and the
welfare of the realm demanded it not indispensably for Constance.
It is on the sole condition of marrying that princess, that the
late king has nominated him his successor. Would you have him
prefer you to the crown of Sicily? Believe me, my heart bleeds at
the mortal blow which impends over you. Yet, since we cannot
contend with the fates, make a magnanimous effort. Your fame is
concerned, not to let the whole nation see that you have nursed
up a delusive hope. Your sensibility towards the person of the
king might even give birth to ignominious rumours. The only
method of preserving yourself from their poison, is to marry the
constable. In short, Blanche, there is no time left for
irresolution. The king has decided between a throne and the
possession of your charms. He has fixed his choice on Constance.
The constable holds my words in pledge; enable me to redeem it, I
beseech you. Or if nothing but a paramount necessity can fix your
wavering resolution, I must make an unwilling use of my parental
authority; know then, I command you.

Ending with this threat, he left her to make her own reflections
on what had passed. He was in hopes that after having weighed the
reasons he had urged to support her virtue against the bias of
her feelings, she would determine of herself to admit the
constable's addresses. He was not mistaken in his conjecture: but
at what an expense did the wretched Blanche rise to this height
of virtuous resolution! Her condition was that in the whole world
the most deserving of pity. The affliction of finding her fears
realized respecting the in fidelity of Enriquez, and of being
compelled, besides losing the man of her choice, to sacrifice
herself to another whom she could never love, occasioned her such
storms of passion and alternate tossings of frantic desperation,
as to bring with each successive moment a variety of vindictive
torture. If my sad fate is fixed, exclaimed she, how can I
triumph over it but by death? Merciless powers, who preside over
our wayward fortunes, why feed and tantalize me with the most
flattering hopes, only to plunge me headlong into a gulf of
miseries? And thou too, perfidious lover! to rush into the arms
of another, when all those vows of eternal fidelity were mine. So
soon then is that plighted faith void and forgotten? To punish
thee for so cruel a deception, may it please heaven, in its
retribution, to make the conscious couch of conjugal endearment,
polluted as it must be by perjury, less the scene of pleasure
than the dungeon of remorse! May the fond caresses of Constance
distil poison through thy faithless heart! Let us rival one
another in the horrors of our nuptials! Yes, traitor, I mean to
wed the constable, though shrinking from his ardent touch, to
avenge me on myself! to be my own scourge and tormentor, for
having selected so fatally the object of my frantic passion.
Since deep-rooted obedience to the will of God forbids to
entertain the thought of a premature death, whatever days may be
allotted me to drag on shall be but a lengthened chain of
heaviness and torment. If a sentiment of love still lurks about
your heart, it will be revenge enough for me to cast myself into
your presence, the devoted bride or victim of another: but if you
have thrown off my remembrance with your own vows, Sicily at
least shall glory in the distinction of reckoning among its
natives a woman who knew how to punish herself for having
disposed of her heart too lightly.

In such a state of mind did this wretched martyr to love and duty
pass the night preceding her marriage with the constable.
Siffredi, finding her the next morning ready to comply with his
wishes, hastened to avail himself of this favourable disposition.
He sent for the constable to Belmonte on that very day, and the
marriage ceremony was performed privately in the chapel of the
castle. What a crisis for Blanche! It was not enough to renounce
a crown, to lose a lover endeared to her by every tie, and to
yield herself up to the object of her hatred. In addition to all
this, she must put a constraint on her sentiments before a
husband, naturally jealous, and long occupied with the most
ardent admiration of her charms. The bridegroom, delighted in the
possession of her, was all day long in her presence. He did not
leave her to the miserable consolation of pouring out her sorrows
in secret. When night arrived, Leontio's daughter felt all her
disgust and terror redoubled. But what seemed likely to become of
her when her women, after having undressed her, left her alone
with the constable? He enquired respectfully into the cause of
her apparent faintness and discomposure. The question was
sufficiently embarrassing to Blanche, who affected to be ill. Her
husband was at first deceived by her pretences; but he did not
long remain in such an error. Being, as he was, sincerely
concerned at the condition in which he saw her, but still
pressing her to go to bed, his urgent solicitations, falsely
construed by her, offered to her wounded mind an image so cruel
and indelicate, that she could no longer dissemble what was
passing within, but gave a free course to her sighs and tears.
What a discovery for a man who thought himself at the summit of
his wishes! He no longer doubted but the distressed state of his
wife was fraught with some sinister omen to his love. And yet,
though this knowledge reduced him to a situation almost as
deplorable as that of Blanche, he had sufficient command over
himself to keep his suspicions within his own breast. He
redoubled his assiduities, and went on pressing his bride to lay
herself down, assuring her that the repose of which she stood in
need should be undisturbed by his interruption. He offered of his
own accord even to call her women, if she was of opinion that
their attendance could afford any relief to her indisposition.
Blanche, reviving at that proposal, told him that sleep was the
best remedy for the debility under which she laboured. He
affected to think so too. They accordingly partook of the same
bed, but with a conduct altogether different from what the laws
of love, sanctioned by the rites of marriage, might authorize in
a pair mutually delighted and delighting.

While Siffredi's daughter was giving way to her grief, the
constable was hunting in his own mind for the causes which might
render the nuptial office so contemptible a sinecure in his
hands. He could not be long in conjecturing that he had a rival,
but when he attempted to discover him he was lost in the
labyrinth of his own ideas. All he knew with certainty, was the
peculiar severity of his own fate. He had already passed two
thirds of the night in this perplexity of thought, when an
undistinguishable noise grew gradually on his sense of hearing.
Great was his surprise when a footstep seemed audibly to pace
about the room. He fancied himself mistaken; for he recollected
shutting the door himself after Blanche's women had retired. He
drew back the curtain to satisfy his senses on the occasion of
this extraordinary noise. But the light in the chimney corner had
gone out, and he soon heard a feeble and melancholy voice calling
Blanche with anxious and importunate repetitions. Then did the
suggestions of his jealousy transport him into rage. His insulted
honour obliging him to rush from the bed to which he had so long
aspired, and either to prevent a meditated injury, or take
vengeance for its perpetration, he caught up his sword and flew
forward in the direction whence the voice seemed to proceed. He
felt a naked blade opposed to his own. As he advanced, his
antagonist retired. The pursuit became more eager, the retreat
more precipitate. His search was vigilant, and every corner of
the room seemed to contain its object, but that which he
momentarily occupied. The darkness, however, favoured the unknown
invader, and he was nowhere to be found. The pursuer halted. He
listened, but heard no sound. It seemed like enchantment! He made
for the door, under the idea that this was the outlet to the
secret assassin of his honour; yet the bolt was shot as fast as
before. Unable to comprehend this strange occurrence, he called
those of his retinue who were most within reach of his voice. As
he opened the door for this purpose, he placed himself so as to
prevent all egress, and stood upon his guard, lest the devoted
victim of his search should escape.

At his redoubled cries, some servants ran with lights. He laid
hold of a taper, and renewed his search in the chamber with his
sword still drawn. Yet he found no one there, nor any apparent
sign of any person having been in the room. He was not aware of
any private door, nor could he discover any practicable mode of
escape: yet for all this, he could not shut his eyes against the
nature and circumstances of his misfortune. His thoughts were all
thrown into inextricable confusion. To ask any questions of
Blanche was in vain: for she had too deep an interest in
perplexing the truth, to furnish any clue whatever to its
discovery. He therefore adopted the measure of unbosoming his
griefs to Leontio; but previously sent away his attendants with
the excuse that he thought he had heard some noise in the room,
but was mistaken. His father-in-law having left his chamber in
consequence of this strange disturbance, met him, and heard from
his lips the particulars of this unaccountable adventure. The
narrative was accompanied with every indication of extreme agony,
produced by deep and tender feeling, as well as by a sense of
insulted honour.

Siffredi was surprised at the occurrence. Though it did not
appear to him at all probable, that was no reason for being easy
about its reality. The king's passion might accomplish anything;
and that idea alone justified the most cruel apprehensions. But
it could do no good to foster either the natural jealousy of his
son-in-law, or his particular suspicions arising out of
circumstances. He therefore endeavoured to persuade him, with an
air of confidence, that this imaginary voice, and airy sword
opposed to his substantial one, were, and could possibly be, but
the gratuitous creations of a fancy, under the influence of
amorous distrust. It was morally impossible that any person
should have made his way into his daughter's chamber. With regard
to the melancholy, so visible in his wile's deportment, it might
very naturally be attributed to precarious health and delicacy of
constitution. The honour of a husband need not be so tremblingly
alive to all the qualms of maiden fear and inexperience. Change
of condition, in the case of a girl habituated to live almost
without human society, and abruptly consigned to the embraces of
a man in whom love and previous acquaintance had not inspired
confidence, might innocently be the cause of these tears, of
these sighs, and of this lively affliction so irksome to his
feelings. But it was to be considered that tenderness, especially
in the hearts of young ladies, fortified by the pride of blood
against the excesses of love-sick abandonment, was only to be
cherished into a flame by time and assiduity. He therefore
exhorted him to tranquillize his disturbed mind; to be ardently
officious in redoubling every instance of affection; to create a
soft and seducing interest in the sensibility of Blanche. In
short, he besought him earnestly to return to her apartment, and
laboured to persuade him that his distrust and confusion would
only set her on an unconjugal and litigious defence of her
insulted virtue.

The constable returned no answer to the arguments of his father-
in-law, whether because he began to think in good earnest that
his senses were imposed on by the disorder of his mind, or
because he thought it more to the purpose to dissemble, than to
undertake ineffectually to convince the old man of an event so
devoid of all likelihood. He returned to his wife's chamber, laid
himself down by her side, and endeavoured to obtain from sleep
some relief from his extreme uneasiness. Blanche, on her part,
the unhappy Blanche, was not a whit more at her ease. Her ears
had been but too open to the same alarming sounds, which had
assailed her husband's peace; nor could she construe into
illusion an adventure of which she well knew the secret and the
motives. She was surprised that Enriquez should attempt to find
his way into her apartment, after having pledged his faith so
solemnly to the Princess Constance. Instead of feeding her soul
with vanity, or deriving any flattering omens from a proceeding
fraught with personal tenderness, but destructive to self-
approbation, she considered it as a new insult, and her heart was
only so much the more exasperated with resentment against the
author.

While Siffredi's daughter, with all her prejudices excited
against the young king, believed him the most guilty of men, that
unhappy prince, more than ever ensnared by Blanche, was anxious
for an interview, to satisfy her mind on a subject which seemed
to make so much against him. For that purpose he would have
visited Belmonte sooner, but for a press of business too urgent
to be neglected; nor could he withdraw himself from the court
before that night. He was perfectly at home in all the turnings
of a place where he had been brought up, and therefore was at no
loss to slip into the castle of Siffredi. Nay, he was still in
possession of the key to a secret door communicating with the
gardens. By this inlet did he gain his former apartment, and
thence found his way into Blanche's chamber. Only conceive what
must have been the astonishment of that prince to find a man in
possession, and to feel a sword opposed to his guard. He was just
on the point of betraying all, and of punishing the rebel on the
very spot, whose sacrilegious hand had dared to lift itself
against the person of its lawful sovereign. But then the delicacy
due to the daughter of Leontio held his indignation in check. He
retreated in the same direction as he had advanced, and regained
the Palermo road, in more distress and perplexity than ever.
Getting home some little time before daybreak, his apartment
afforded him the most quiet retreat. But his thoughts were all on
the road back to Belmonte. The resting-place of his affections, a
sense of honour, in a word, love with all its pretensions and
surmises, would never allow him to delay an explanation,
involving all the circumstances of so strange and melancholy an
adventure.

As soon as it was daylight he gave out that he was going on a
hunting expedition. Under cover of sporting, his huntsmen and a
chosen party of his courtiers penetrated into the forest of
Belmonte under his direction. The chase was followed for some
time, as a blind to his real design. When he saw the whole party
eagerly driving on, and wholly engrossed by the sport, he
galloped off in a different direction, and struck, without any
attendants, into the road towards Leontio's castle. The various
tracks of the forest were too well known to him to admit of his
losing his way. His impatience, too, would not allow him to take
any thought of his horse; so that the moments scarcely flitted
faster, than his expedition in leaving behind him the distance
which separated him from the object of his love. His very soul
was on the rack for some plausible excuse to plead for a private
interview with Siffredi's daughter, when, crossing a narrow path
just at the park gate, he observed two women sitting close by
him, in earnest conversation under the shelter of a tree. It
might well be supposed that these females belonged to the castle;
and even that probability was sufficient to rouse an interest in
him. But his emotion was heightened into a feeling beyond his
reason to control, for these ladies happened to look round on
hearing the trot of a horse advancing in that direction; when at
once he recognized his dear Blanche. The fact was, she had made
her escape from the castle with Nisa, the person of all others
among her women most in her confidence, that she might at least
have the satisfaction of weeping over her misfortunes without
intrusion or restraint.

He flew, and seemed rather to throw himself headlong than to fall
at her feet. But when he beheld in the expression of her
countenance every mark of the deepest affliction, his heart was
softened. Lovely Blanche, said he, do not, let me entreat you,
give way to the emotions of your grief. Appearances, I own, must
represent me as guilty in your eyes: but when you shall be made
acquainted with my project in your behalf, what you consider as a
crime will be transformed in your thoughts into a proof of my
innocence, and an evidence of my unparalleled affection. These
words, calculated, according to the views of Enriquez, to allay
the grief of Blanche, served only to redouble her affliction.
Fain would she have answered, but her sobs stifled her utterance.
The prince, thunderstruck at the death-like agitation of her
flame, addressed her thus. What, madam, is there no possibility
of tranquilizing your agitation? By what sad mischance have I
lost your confidence, at the very moment when my crown and even
my life are at stake, in consequence of my resolution to hold
myself engaged to you? At this suggestion the daughter of
Leontio, doing violence to her own feelings, but thinking it
necessary to explain herself, said to him -- My liege, your
assurances are no longer admissible. My destiny and yours are
henceforward as far asunder as the poles. Ah! Blanche,
interrupted Enriquez with impatience, what cutting words are
these, too painful for my sense of hearing? Who dares step in
between our loves? Who would venture to stand forward against the
headlong rage of a king who would kindle all Sicily into a
conflagration, rather than suffer you to be ravished from his
long-cherished hopes? All your power, my liege, great as it is,
replied the daughter of Siffredi in a tone of melancholy, becomes
inefficient against the obstacles in the way of our union. I know
not how to tell it you, but . . . . I am married to the
constable.

Married to the constable! exclaimed the prince, starting back to
some distance from her. He could proceed no further in his
discourse, so completely was he thunderstruck at the
intelligence. Overwhelmed by this unexpected blow, he felt his
strength forsake him. His unconscious limbs laid themselves
without his guidance against the trunk of a tree just behind him.
His countenance was pallid, his whole frame in a tremor, his mind
bewildered and his spirits depressed. With no sense or faculty at
liberty but that of gazing, and there every power of his soul was
suspended on Blanche, he made her feel most poignantly how he
himself was agonized by the fatal event she had announced. The
expression of countenance on her part was such as to show him
that her emotions were not uncongenial with his own. Thus did
these two distressed lovers for a time preserve a silence towards
each other, which portended something of terror in its calmness.
At length the prince, recovering a little from his disorder by an
effort of courage, resumed the discourse, and said to Blanche
with a sigh -- Madam, what have you done? You have destroyed me,
and involved yourself in the same ruin by your credulity.

Blanche was offended at the seeming reproaches of the king, when
the strongest grounds of complaint were apparently on her side.
What! my lord, answered she, do you add dissimulation to
infidelity? Would you have me reject the evidence of my own eyes
and ears, so as to believe you innocent in spite of their report?
No, my lord, I will own to you such an effort of abstraction is
not in my power. And yet, madam, replied the king, these
witnesses by whose testimony you have been so fully convinced,
are but impostors. They have been in a conspiracy to betray you.
It is no less the fact that I am innocent and faithful, than it
is true that you are married to the constable. What is it you
say, my lord? replied she. Did I not overhear you confirming the
pledge of your hand and heart to Constance? Have you not bound
yourself to the nobility of the realm, and undertaken to comply
with the will of the late king? Has not the princess received the
homage of your new subjects as their queen, and in quality of
bride to Prince Enriquez? Were my eyes then fascinated? Tell me,
tell me rather, traitor, that Blanche was weighed as dust in the
balance of your heart, when compared with the attractions of a
throne. Without lowering yourself so far as to assume what you no
longer feel, and what perhaps you never felt, own at once that
the crown of Sicily appeared a more tenable possession with
Constance than with the daughter of Leontio. You are in the
right, my lord. My title to an illustrious throne, and to the
heart of a prince like you, stands on an equally precarious
footing. It was vanity in the extreme to prefer a claim to
either: but you ought not to have drawn me on into error. You
well recollect what alarms were my portion at the very thought of
losing you, of which I had almost a supernatural foreboding. Why
did you lull my apprehensions to sleep? To what purpose was that
delusive mockery? I might else have accused fate rather than
yourself, and you would at least have retained an interest in my
heart, though unaccompanied by a hand which no other suitor could
ever have obtained. As we are now circumstanced, your
justification is out of season. I am married to the constable. To
relieve me from the continuance of an interview, which casts a
shade over my purity hitherto unsullied, permit me, my lord,
without failing in due respect, to with draw from the presence of
a prince to whose addresses I am no longer at liberty to listen.

With these words, she darted away from Enriquez in as hurried a
step as the agitation of her spirits would allow. Stop, madam,
exclaimed he, drive not to despair a prince, inclined to overturn
a throne, which you reproach him for having preferred to
yourself, rather than yield to the importunities of his new
subjects. That sacrifice is under present circumstances
superfluous, rejoined Blanche. The bond must be broken between
the constable and me, before any effect can be produced by these
generous transports. Since I am not my own mistress, little would
it avail that Sicily should be embroiled, nor does it concern me
to whom you give your hand. If I have betrayed my own weakness,
and suffered my heart to be surprised, at least shall I muster
fortitude enough to suppress every soft emotion, and prove to the
new king of Sicily, that the wife of the constable is no longer
the mistress of Prince Enriquez. While this conversation was
passing, they reached the park gate. With a sudden spring she and
Nisa got within the walls. As they took care to fasten the wicket
after them, the prince was left in a state of melancholy and
stupefaction. He could not recover from the stunning sensation,
occasioned by the intelligence of Blanche's marriage. Unjust may
I well call you, exclaimed he. You have buried all remembrance of
our solemn engagement! Spite of my protestations and your own,
our fates are rent asunder? The long-cherished hope of possessing
those charms was an empty phantom! Ah! cruel as you are, how
dearly have I purchased the distinction, of compelling you to
acknowledge the constancy of my love!

At that moment his rival's happiness, heightened by the colouring
of jealousy, presented itself to his mind in all the horrors of
that frantic passion. So arbitrary was its sway over him for some
moments, that he was on the point of sacrificing the constable,
and even Siffredi, to his blind vengeance. Reason, however,
calmed by little and little the violence of his transports. And
yet the obvious impossibility of effacing from the mind of
Blanche her natural conviction of his infidelity, reduced him to
despair. He flattered himself with weaning her from her
prejudices, could he but converse with her secure from
interruption. To attain this end, it seemed the most feasible
plan to get rid of the constable. He therefore determined to have
him arrested, as a person suspected of treasonable designs, in
the then unsettled state of public affairs. This commission was
given to the captain of his guard, who went immediately to
Belmonte, secured the person of his prisoner just as the evening
was closing in, and carried him to the castle of Palermo.

This occurrence spread an alarm at Belmonte. Siffredi took his
departure forthwith, to offer his own responsibility to the king
for the innocence of his son-in-law, and to represent in their
true colours the unpleasant consequences attending such arbitrary
exertions of power. The prince, who had anticipated such a
proceeding on the part of his minister, and was determined at
least to secure himself a free interview with Blanche before the
release of the constable, had expressly forbidden any one to
address him till the next day. But Leontio, setting this
prohibition at defiance, contrived so well as to make his way
into the king's chamber. My liege, said he, with an air of
humility tempered with firmness, if it is allowable for a subject
full of respect and loyalty to complain of his master, I have to
arraign you before the tribunal of your own conscience. What
crime has my son-in-law committed? Has your majesty sufficiently
reflected what an everlasting reproach is entailed on my family?
Are the consequences of an imprisonment calculated to disgust all
the most important officers of the state with the service, a
matter of indifference? I have undoubted information, answered
the king, that the constable holds a criminal correspondence with
the Infant Don Pedro. A criminal correspondence! interrupted
Leontio, with surprise. Ah! my liege, give no ear to the surmise.
Your majesty is played upon. Treason never gained a footing in
the family of Siffredi. It is sufficient security for the
constable that he is my son-in-law, to place him above all
suspicion. The constable is innocent: but private motives have
been the occasion of your arresting him.

Since you speak to me so openly, replied the king, I will adopt
the same sincerity with you. You complain of the constable's
imprisonment! Be it so. And have I no reason to complain of your
cruelty? it is you, barbarous Siffredi, who have wrested my
tranquillity from me, and reduced your sovereign, by your
officious cares, to envy the lowliest of the human race. For do
not so far deceive yourself as to believe that I shall ever enter
into your views. My marriage with Constance is quite out of the
question . . . . What, my liege, interrupted Leontio, with an
expression of horror, is there any doubt about your marrying the
princess, after having flattered her with that hope in the face
of your whole people? If their wishes are disappointed, replied
the king, take the credit to yourself: Wherefore did you reduce
me to the necessity of giving them a promise my heart would not
allow me to make good? Where was the occasion to fill up with the
name of Constance an instrument designed for the elevation of
your own daughter? You could not be a stranger to my design; need
you have completed your tyranny by devoting Blanche to the arms
of a man to whom she could not give her heart? And what authority
have you over mine to dispose of it in favour of a princess whom
I detest? Have you forgotten that she is the daughter of that
cruel Matilda, who, trampling the rights of consanguinity and
human nature under foot, caused my father to breathe his last
under all the rigours of a hard captivity? And should I marry
her! No, Siffredi, throw away that hope. Before the lurid torch
of such an hymeneal shall be kindled in your presence, you shall
behold all Sicily in flames, and the expiring embers quenched in
blood.

Do not my ears deceive me? exclaimed Leontio. Ah! sovereign, what
a scene do you present me with! Who can hear such menaces without
shuddering? But I am too forward to take the alarm, continued he
in an altered voice. You are in too close a union with your
subjects to be the instrument of a catastrophe so melancholy. You
will not suffer passion to triumph over your reason. Virtues like
yours shall never lose their lustre by the tarnish of human and
ordinary weakness. If I have given my daughter into the arms of
the constable, it was with the design, my liege, of securing to
your majesty a powerful subject, able by his own valour, and the
army under his command, to maintain your party against that of
the Prince Don Pedro. It appeared to me that by connecting him
with my family in so close a bond . . . . Yes, yes! This bond,
exclaimed Prince Enriquez, this fatal bond has been my ruin.
Unfeeling friend, to aim a wound at my vital part! What
commission had you to take care of my interests at the expense of
my affections? Why did you not leave me to support my pretensions
by my own arm? Was there any question about my courage that I
should be thought incompetent to reduce my rebellious subjects to
their obedience? Means might have been found to punish the
constable had he dared to have fallen off from his allegiance! I
am well aware of the difference between a lawful king and an
arbitrary tyrant. The happiness of our people is our first duty.
But are we, on the other hand, to be the slaves of our subjects?
From the moment when we are selected by heaven for our high
office, do we lose the common privilege of nature, the birthright
of the human race, to dispose of our affections in whatsoever
current they may flow? Well then! if we are less our own masters
than the lowest of the human race, take back, Siffredi, that
sovereign authority you affect to have secured to me by the wreck
of my personal happiness.

You cannot but be acquainted, my liege, replied the minister,
that it was on your marriage with the princess, the late king,
your uncle, made the succession of the crown to depend. And by
what right, rejoined Enriquez, did even he assume to himself so
arbitrary a disposition? Was it on such unworthy terms that he
succeeded his brother, King Charles? How came you yourself to be
so besotted as to allow of a stipulation so unjust? For a high
chancellor, you are not too well versed in our laws and
constitutions. To cut the matter short, though I have promised my
hand to Constance, the engagement was not voluntary. I do not
therefore think myself bound to keep my word; and if Don Pedro
founds on my refusal any hope of succeeding to the throne without
involving the nation in a bloody and destructive contest, his
error will be too soon visible. The sword shall decide between us
to whom the prize of empire may more worthily fall. Leontio
could not venture to press him further, and confined himself to
supplicating on his knees for the liberty of his son-in-law. That
boon he obtained. Go, said the king to him, return to Belmonte,
the constable shall follow you thither without delay. The
minister departed, and made the best of his way to Belmonte,
under the persuasion that his son-in-law would overtake him on
the road. In this he was mistaken. Enriquez was determined to
visit Blanche that night, and with such views he deferred the
enlargement of her husband till the next morning.

During this time the feelings of the constable were of the most
agonizing nature. His imprisonment had opened his eyes to the
real cause of his misfortune. He gave himself up to jealousy
without restraint or remorse, and belying the good faith which
had hitherto rendered his character so valuable, his thoughts
were all bent on his revenge. As he conjectured rightly that the
king would not fail to reconnoitre Blanche's apartment during the
night, it was his object to surprise them together. He therefore
besought the governor of the castle at Palermo to allow of his
absence from the prison, on the assurance of his return before
daybreak. The governor, who was devoted to his interest, gave his
permission so much the more easily, as being already advertised
that Siffredi had procured his liberty. Indeed, he even went so
far as to supply him with a horse for his journey to Belmonte.
The constable on his arrival there fastened his horse to a tree.
He then got into the park by a little gate of which he had the
key, and was lucky enough to slip into the castle without being
recognized by any one. On reaching his wife's apartment he
concealed himself in the ante-chamber, behind a screen placed as
if expressly for his use. His intention was to observe narrowly
what was going forward, and to present himself on a sudden in
Blanche's chamber at the sound of any footstep he should hear.
The first object he beheld was Nisa, taking leave of her mistress
for the night, and withdrawing to a closet where she slept.

Siffredi's daughter, who had been at no loss to fathom the
meaning of her husband's imprisonment, was fully convinced that
he would not return to Belmonte that night, although she had
heard from her father of the king's assurance that the constable
should set out immediately after him. As little could she doubt
but Enriquez would avail himself of the interval to see and
converse with her at his pleasure. With this expectation she
awaited the prince's arrival, to reproach him for a line of
conduct so pregnant with fatal consequences to herself. As she
had anticipated, a very short time after Nisa had retired the
sliding panel opened, and the king threw himself at the feet of
his beloved. Madam, said he, condemn me not without a hearing. It
is true I have occasioned the constable's imprisonment, but then
consider that it was the only method left me for my
justification. Attribute therefore that desperate stratagem to
yourself alone. Why did you refuse to listen to my explanation
this morning? Alas! To-morrow your husband will be liberated, and
I shall no longer have an opportunity of addressing you. Hearken
to me then for the last time. If the loss of you has embittered
the remainder of my days, vouchsafe me at least the melancholy
satisfaction of convincing you that I have not called down this
misfortune on myself by my own inconstancy. I did indeed confirm
the pledge of my hand to Constance, but then it was unavoidable
in the situation to which your father's policy had reduced us. It
was necessary to put this imposition on the princess for your
interest and for my own; to secure to you your crown, and with it
the hand and heart of your devoted lover. I had flattered myself
with the prospect of success. Measures were already taken to
supersede that engagement, but you have destroyed the bright
illusions of my fancy; and, by disposing of yourself too
precipitately, have antedated an eternity of torment for two
hearts, whom a mutual and perfect love might have conducted to
perpetual bliss.

He concluded this explanation with such evident marks of
unfeigned agony, that Blanche was affected by his words. She had
no longer any hesitation about his innocence. At first her joy
was unbounded at the conviction; but then again a sense of their
cruel circumstances gained the ascendant over her mind. Ah! my
honoured lord, said she to the prince, after such a determination
of our destinies, you only inflict a new pang by informing me
that you were not to blame. What have I done, wretched as I am?
My keen resentment has betrayed me into error. I fancied myself
cast off; and in the moment of my anger, accepted the hand of the
constable, whose addresses my father promoted. But the crime is
all my own, though the woes are mutual. Alas! In the very
conjuncture when I accused you of deceiving me, it was by my own
act, too credulously impassioned as I was, that the ties were
broken, which I had sworn for ever to make indissoluble. Take
your revenge, my lord, in your turn. Indulge your hatred against
the ungrateful Blanche. . . . Forget . . . . What! and is it in
my power then, madam? interrupted Enriquez with a dejected air:
how is it possible to tear a passion from my heart, which even
your injustice had not the power of extinguishing? Yet it becomes
necessary for you to make that effort, my liege, replied the
daughter of Siffredi, with a deep sigh . . . . And shall you be
equal to that effort yourself? replied the king. I am not
confident with myself for my success, answered she: but I shall
spare no pains in the attainment of my object. Ah! unfeeling fair
one, said the prince, you will easily banish Enriquez from your
remembrance, since you can contemplate such a purpose so
steadfastly. Whither then does your imagination lead? said
Blanche, in a more decisive tone. Do you flatter yourself that I
can permit the continuance of your tender assiduities? No, my
lord, banish that hope for ever from your thoughts. If I was not
born for royalty, neither has heaven formed me to be degraded by
illicit addresses. My husband, like yourself, my liege, is allied
to the noble house of Anjou. Though the call of duty were less
peremptory, in opposing an insurmountable obstacle to your
insidious proposals, a sense of pride would hinder me from
admitting them. I conjure you to withdraw: we must meet no more.
What a barbarous sentence! exclaimed the king. Ah! Blanche, is it
possible that you should treat me with so much severity? Is it
not enough then to weigh me down, that the constable should be in
possession of your charms? And yet you would cut me off from the
bare sight of you, the only comfort which remains to me! For that
very reason avoid my presence, answered Siffredi's daughter, not
without some tears of tenderness. The contemplation of what we
have dearly loved is no longer a blessing, when we have lost all
hope of the possession. Adieu, my lord! Shun my very image. You
owe that exertion to your own honour and to my good name. I claim
it also for my own peace of mind: for to deal sincerely, though
my virtue should be steady enough to combat with the suggestions
of my heart, the very remembrance of your affection stirs up so
cruel a conflict, that it is almost too much for my frail nature
to support the shock.

Her utterance of these words was attended with so energetic an
action, as to overset the light placed on a table behind her, and
its fall left the room in darkness. Blanche picked it up. She
then opened the door of the ante-chamber, and went to Nisa's
closet, who was not yet gone to bed, for the purpose of lighting
it again. She was now returning, after having accomplished her
errand. The king, who was waiting for her impatiently, no sooner
saw her approach, than he resumed his ardent plea with her, to
allow of his attentions. At the prince's voice, the constable
rushed impetuously, sword in hand, into the room, almost at the
same moment with his bride. Advancing up to Enriquez with all the
indignation which his fury kindled within him: This is too much,
tyrant, cried he; flatter not yourself that I am cowardly enough
to bear with this affront, which you have offered to my honour.
Ay! traitor, answered the king, standing on his guard, lay aside
the vain imagination of being able to compass your purpose with
impunity. With these mutual taunts, they entered on a conflict,
too violent to be long undecided. The constable, fearing lest
Siffredi and his attendants should be roused too soon by the
piercing shrieks of Blanche, and should interpose between him and
his revenge, took no care of himself. His frenzy robbed him of
all skill. He fenced so heedlessly, as to run headlong on his
adversary's sword. The weapon entered his body up to the hilt. He
fell; and the king instantaneously checked his hand.

The daughter of Leontio, touched at her husband's condition, and
rising superior to her natural repugnance, threw herself on the
ground, and was anxious to afford him every assistance. But that
ill-fated bridegroom was too deeply prejudiced against her, to
allow himself to be softened by the evidences she gave of her
sorrow and her pity. Death, whose hand he felt upon him, could
not stifle the transports of his jealousy. In these his last
moments, no image presented itself to his mind but his rival's
success. So insufferable was that idea to him, that, collecting
together the little strength he had left, he raised his sword,
which he still grasped convulsively, and plunged it deep in
Blanche's bosom. Die, said he, as he inflicted the fatal wound;
die, faithless bride, since the ties of wedlock were not strong
enough to preserve to me the vow which you had sworn upon the
altar. And as for you, Enriquez, pursued he, triumph not too
loudly on your destinies. You are prevented from taking advantage
of my froward fortune; and I die content. Scarcely did these
words quiver on his lips, when he breathed his last. His
countenance, overcast as it was with the shades of death, had
still something in it of fierceness and of terror. That of
Blanche presented a quite different aspect. The wound she had
received was mortal. She fell on the scarcely breathing body of
her husband: and the blood of the innocent victim flowed in the
same stream with that of her murderer, who had executed his cruel
purpose so suddenly, that the king could not prevent it from
taking effect.

This ill-fated prince uttered a cry at the sight of Blanche as
she fell. Pierced deeper than herself by the stab which deprived
her of life, he did his utmost to afford the same relief to her
as she had offered, though at so fatal an expense, to one who
might have rewarded her better. But she addressed him in these
words, while the last breath quivered on her lips: My lord, your
assiduities are fruitless, I am the victim. Merciless fate
demands me, and I resign myself to death. May the anger of heaven
be appeased by the sacrifice, and the prosperity of your reign be
confirmed. As she was with difficulty uttering these last words,
Leontio, drawn thither by the reverberation of her shrieks, came
into the room; and, thunderstruck at the dreadful scene before
him, remained fixed to the spot where he stood. Blanche, without
noticing his presence, went on addressing herself to the king.
Farewell, prince, said she; cherish my memory with the tenderness
it deserves. My affection and my misfortunes entitle me at least
to that. Harbour no aversion to my father; he is innocent. Be a
comfort to his remaining days; assuage his grief; acknowledge his
fidelity. Above all, convince him of my spotless virtue. With
this I charge you, before every other consideration. Farewell, my
dear Enriquez . . . . I am dying. Receive my last sigh.

Here her words were intercepted by the approach of death. For
some time the king maintained a sullen silence. At length he said
to Siffredi, whose senses seemed to be locked up in a mortal
trance: Behold, Leontio; feed on the contemplation of your own
work. In this tragical event, you may ruminate on the issue of
your officious cares, and your overweening zeal for my service.
The old man returned no answer, so deeply was he penetrated by
his affliction. But wherefore dwell on the description of
circumstances, when the powers of language must sink under the
weight of such a catastrophe? Suffice it to say, that they
mutually poured forth their sorrows in the most affecting terms,
as soon as their grief allowed them to give vent to its effusions
in speech.

Through the whole course of his life, the king cherished a tender
recollection of his mistress. He could not bring himself to marry
Constance. The infant Don Pedro combined with that princess, and
by their joint efforts, an obstinate attempt was made to carry
the will of Roger into execution; but they were compelled in the
end to give way to Prince Enriquez, who gained the ascendancy
over all his enemies. As for Siffredi, the melancholy he
contracted from having been the cause of destruction to his
dearest friends, gave him a disgust to the world, and made a
longer abode in his native country insupportable. He turned his
back on Sicily for ever; and, coming over into Spain with Portia,
his surviving daughter, purchased this mansion. He lived here
nearly fifteen years after the death of Blanche, and had the
consolation, before his own death, of establishing Portia in the
world. She married Don Jerome de Silva, and I am the only issue
of that marriage. Such, pursued the widow of Don Pedro de
Penares, is the story of my family; a faithful recital of the
melancholy events represented in that picture, which was painted
by order of my grandfather Leontio, as a record to his posterity
of the fatal adventure I have related.


CH. V. -- The behaviour of Aurora de Guzman on her arrival at
Salamanca.

ORTIZ, her companions, and myself, after having heard this tale,
withdrew together from the hall, where we left Aurora with
Elvira. There they lengthened out the remainder of the day in a
mutual intercourse of confidence. They were not likely to be
weary of each other: and on the following morning, when we took
our leave, there was as much to do to part them, as if they had
been two friends brought up in the closest habits of confidence
and affection.

In due time we reached Salamanca without any impediment. There we
immediately engaged a ready-furnished house, and Dame Ortiz, as
it had been before agreed, assumed the name of Donna Kimena de
Guzman. She had played the part of a duenna too long not to be
able to shift her character according to circumstances. One
morning she went out with Aurora, a waiting-maid and a man-
servant, and betook herself to a lodging-house, where we had been
informed that Pacheco most commonly took up his abode. She asked
if there was any lodging to be let there. The answer was in the
affirmative; and they showed her into a room in very neat
condition, which she hired. She paid down earnest to the
landlady, telling her that it was for one of her nephews who .was
coming from Toledo to finish his studies at Salamanca, and might
be expected on that very day.

The duenna and my mistress, after having made sure of this
apartment, went back the way they came, and the lovely Aurora,
without loss of time, metamorphosed herself into a spruce young
spark. She concealed her black ringlets under a braid of light-
coloured hair, the better to disguise herself; . . . .
manufactured her eyebrows to correspond, and dressed herself up
in such a costume, as to look for all the world as if her sex
were of a piece with her appearance. Her deportment was free and
easy; so that, with the exception of her face, which was somewhat
more delicate than became the manly character, there was nothing
to lead to a discovery of her masquerading. The waiting-woman who
was to officiate as page, got into her paraphernalia at the same
time, and we had no apprehension respecting her competency to
perform her part. There was no danger of her beauty telling any
tales; and besides, she could put on as brazen-faced a swagger as
the most impudent dog in town. After dinner, our two actresses,
finding themselves in cue to make their first appearance on the
stage, where the scene was laid in the ready-furnished lodging,
took me along with them. We all three placed ourselves in the
coach, and carried with us all the baggage we were likely to have
occasion for.

The landlady, Bernarda Ramirez by name, welcomed us with a glut
of civility, and led the way to our room, where we began to make
arrangements with her. We concluded a bargain for our board by
the month, which she undertook should be suitable to our
condition. Then we asked if she had her complement of boarders. I
have none at all at present, answered she. Not that there would
be any want of enough, if I was of the mind to take in all sorts
of people: but young men of fashion are the thing for me. I
expect one of that description this morning: he is coming hither
from Madrid to complete his education. Don Lewis Pacheco! But you
must have heard of him before now. No, said Aurora, I have no
acquaintance whatever with the gentleman; and since we are to be
inmates together, you will do me a kindness by letting me a
little into his character. Please your honour, replied the
landlady, leering at this outside of a man, his figure is as
taking as your own; just the same sort of make, and about the
same size. Oh! how well you will do together! By St James, though
I say it who should not say it, I shall have about me two of the
prettiest young fellows in all Spain. Well, but about Don Lewis!
for my mistress was in a fidget to ask the grand question. Of
course; . . . . he is well with the ladies in your parts! Enough
of . . . . of love affairs . . . . on his hands! Oh! do not you
be afraid of that, rejoined the old lady; it is a forward sprig
of gallantry, take my word for it. He has but to shew himself
before the works, and the citadel sends to capitulate. Among the
number of his conquests, he has got into the good graces of a
lady, with as much youth and beauty as he will know what to do
with. Her name is Isabella. Her father is an old doctor of laws.
She is over head and ears in love with him; absolutely out of her
wits! Well, but do tell me now, my dear little woman, interrupted
Aurora, as if she was ready to burst, is he out of his wits too?
He used to be very fond of her, answered Bernarda Ramirez, before
he went last to Madrid: but whether he holds in the same mind
still, I will not venture to say; because on these points he is
not altogether to be trusted. He is apt to flirt, first with one
woman, and then with another, just as all you young deceivers
take pleasure in doing. You are all alike!

The bonny widow had scarcely got to the end of her harangue,
before we heard a noise in the court. On looking out at the
window, behold! there appeared two young men dismounting from
their steeds. Who should it be, but the identical Don Lewis
Pacheco, just arrived from Madrid with a servant behind him. The
old lady brushed off to go and usher him in; while my mistress
was putting herself in order, not without some palpitation of
heart, to enact Don Felix to the best of her conceptions. Without
waiting for any formalities, in marched Don Lewis to our
apartment in his travelling dress. I have just been informed,
said he, paying his respects to Aurora, that a young nobleman of
Toledo takes up his abode in this house. May I take the liberty
of expressing my joy in the circumstance, and hoping that we may
be better acquainted? During my mistress's reply to this
compliment, it seemed to me as if Pacheco did not know what to
make of so smock-faced a young spark. Indeed he could not refrain
from declaring a more than ordinary admiration of an air and
figure so attractive. After abundance of discourse, with every
demonstration of reciprocal good breeding, Don Lewis withdrew to
the apartment provided for him.

While he was getting his boots off and changing his dress and
linen, a sort of a page, on the look-out after him to deliver a
letter, met Aurora by chance on the staircase. Her he mistook for
Don Lewis. Thinking he had found the right owner for this tender
message, of which he was the Mercury -- Softly! my honoured lord
and master, said he, though I have not the honour of knowing
Signor Pacheco, there can be no occasion for asking whether you
are the man. It is impossible to be mistaken in the guess. No, my
friend, answered my mistress with a most happy presence of mind,
assuredly you are not mistaken. You acquit yourself of your
embassies to a marvel. I am Don Lewis Pacheco. You may retire! I
will find an opportunity of sending an answer. The page vanished,
and Aurora shutting herself up with her waiting-maid and me,
opened the letter, and read to us as follows: -- "I have just
heard of your being at Salamanca. With what joy did I receive the
news! I thought I should have gone out of my senses. But do you
love Isabella as well as ever? Lose no time in assuring her that
you are still the same. In good truth, she will almost expire
with pleasure when once she is assured of your constancy."

This is a mighty passionate epistle, said Aurora. The heart that
indited it has been caught in a trap. This lady is a rival of no
mean capacity. No pains must be spared to wean Don Lewis from
her, and even to prevent any future interview. The undertaking is
difficult, I acknowledge, and yet there seems no reason to
despair of the result. My mistress, taking her own hint, fell
into a fit of musing; from which having recovered as soon as she
fell into it, she added -- I will lay a wager they are at
daggers drawn in less than twenty-four hours. It so happened that
Pacheco, after a short repose in his apartment, came to look
after us in ours, and entered once more into conversation with
Aurora before supper. My dapper little knight, said he with a
rakish air, I fancy the poor devils of husbands and lovers will
have no reason to hug themselves on your arrival at Salamanca.
You will make their hearts ache for them. As for myself, I
tremble for all my snug arrangements. I tell you what! answered
my mistress with congenial spirit, your fears are not without
their foundation. Don Felix de Mendoza is rather formidable, so
take care what you are about. This is not my first visit in this
country, the ladies hereabouts, to my knowledge, are made of
penetrable materials. About a month ago my way happened to lie
through this city. I halted for eight days, and you are to know .
. . . but you must not mention it . . . . that I set fire to the
daughter of an old doctor of laws.

It was evident enough that Don Lewis was disturbed by this
declaration. Might one without impropriety, replied he, just ask
the lady's name? What do you mean by impropriety? exclaimed the
pretended Don Felix. Why make any secret about such a matter as
that? Do you think me more of a Joseph than other young noblemen
of my standing? Have a better opinion of my spirit. Besides, the
object, between ourselves, is unworthy of any great reserve, she
is but a little mushroom of the lower ranks. A man of fashion
never quarrels with his conscience about such obscure
gallantries, and even thinks it an honour conferred on a
tradesman's wife or daughter when he leaves her without any. I
shall therefore acquaint you in plain terms, that the name of the
doctor's daughter is Isabella. And the doctor himself,
interrupted Pacheco impatiently. he possibly may be Signor Marcia
de la Liana? Precisely so, replied my mistress. Here is a letter
sent me just now. Read it, and then you will see how deeply your
humble servant has dipped into her good graces. Don Lewis just
cast his eye upon the note, and recognizing the handwriting, was
struck dumb with astonishment and vexation. What is the matter?
cried Aurora, with an air of surprise, keeping up the spirit of
her assumed character. You change colour! God forgive me, but you
are a party concerned in this young lady. Ah! Plague take my
officious tongue for having opened my affairs to you with so much
frankness.

I am very much obliged to you for it for my own part, said Don
Lewis in a transport made up of spite and rage. Traitress! Jilt!
My dear Don Felix, how shall I ever requite you! You have
restored me to my senses when they were just on the wing for an
eternal flight. I was tickling myself into a fool's paradise of
credulous love. But love is too cold a term to express my
extravagancies. I fancied myself adored by Isabella. The creature
had wormed her self into my heart by feigning to give me her own.
But now I know her clearly for a coquette, and as such despise
her as she deserves. Your feelings on the occasion do you
infinite credit, said Aurora, testifying a friendly sympathy in
his resentment. A plodding pettifogger's worthless brood might
have gorged to surfeit on the love of a young nobleman so
captivating as yourself. Her fickleness is inexcusable. So far
from taking her sacrifice of you in good part, it is my
determination to punish her by the keenest contempt. As for me,
rejoined Pacheco, I shall never set eyes on her again; and if
that is not revenge, the devil is in it. You are in the right,
exclaimed our masquerading Mendoza. At the same time, that she
may fully understand how ineffably we both disdain her, I vote
for sitting down, each of us, and writing her a sarcastic
farewell. They shall be enclosed in one cover, and serve as an
answer to her own letter. But do not let us proceed to this
extremity till you have examined your heart; it may be you will
repent hereafter of having broken off with Isabella. No, no,
interrupted Don Lewis, I am not such a fool as that comes to; let
it be a bargain, and we will mortify the ungrateful wretch as you
propose.

I immediately sent for pen, ink, and paper, when they sat
themselves down at opposite corners of the table, and drew up a
most tender bill of indictment against Doctor Murcia de la
Llana's daughter. Pacheco, in particular, was at a loss for
language forcible enough to convey his sentiments in all their
acrimony; away went exordium after exordium, to the tearing and
maiming of five or six fair sheets, before the words looked
crooked enough to please his jealous eyes. At length, however, he
produced an epistle which came up with his most tragical
conceptions. It ran thus -- "Self-knowledge is a leading branch
of wisdom, my little philosopher. As a candidate for a
professor's chair, lay aside the vanity of fancying yourself
amiable. It requires merit of a far different compass to fix my
affections. You have not enough of the woman about you to afford
me even a temporary amusement. Yet do not despair, you have a
sphere of your own, the beggarly servitors in our university have
a keen appetite, but no very distinguishing palate." So much for
this elegant epistle! When Aurora had finished hers, which rang
the changes on similar topics, she sealed them, wrapped them up
together, and giving me the packet -- There, Gil Blas, said she,
take care that comes to Isabella's hands this very evening. You
comprehend me! added she, with a glance from the corner of her
eye, which admitted of no doubtful construction. Yes, my lord,
answered I, your commands shall be executed to a tittle.

I lost no time in taking my departure; no sooner in the street
than I said to myself -- So ho! Master Gil Blas, your part then
is that of the intriguing footman in this comedy. Well! so be it,
my friend! shew that you have wit and sense enough to top it over
the favourite actor of the day. Signor Don Felix thinks a wink as
good as a nod. A high compliment to the quickness of your
apprehension! Is he then in an error? No. His hint is as clear as
daylight. Don Lewis's letter is to drop its companion by the way.
A lucid exposition of a dark hieroglyphic, enough to shame the
dulness of the commentators. The sacredness of a seal could never
stand against this bright discovery. Out came the single letter
of Pacheco, and away went I to hunt after Doctor Murcia's abode.
At the very threshold, whom should I meet but the little page who
had been at our lodging. Comrade, said I, do not you happen to
live with the great lawyer's daughter? His answer was in the
affirmative. I see by your countenance, resumed I, that you know
the ways of the world. May I beg the favour of you to slip this
little memorandum into your mistress's hand?

The little page asked me on whose behalf I was a messenger. The
name of Don Lewis Pacheco had no sooner escaped my lips, than he
told me -- Since that is the case, follow me. I have orders to
shew you up. Isabella wants to confer with you. I was introduced
at once into a private apartment, where it was not long before
the lady herself made her appearance. The beauty of her face was
inexpressibly striking; I do not recollect to have seen more
lovely features. Her manner was somewhat mincing and infantine,
yet for all that it had been thirty good years at least since she
had mewled and puked in her nurse's arms. My friend, said she
with an encouraging smile, are you on Don Lewis Pacheco's
establishment? I told her I had been in office for these three
weeks. With this I fired off my paper popgun against her peace.
She read it over two or three times, but if she had rubbed her
eyes till doomsday she would have seen no clearer. In point of
fact, nothing could be more unexpected than so cavalier an
answer. Up went her eyes towards the heavens, appealing to their
rival luminaries. The ivory fences* of her pretty mouth committed
alternate trespass on her soft and suffering lips; and her whole
physiognomy bore witness to the pangs of her distressed and
disappointed heart. Then coming to herself a little, and
recovering her speech -- My friend, said she, has Don Lewis
taken leave of his senses? Tell me, if you can, his motive for so
heroic an epistle. If he is tired of me, well and good, but he
might have taken his leave like a gentleman.

Madam, said I, my master most assuredly has not acted as I should
have acted in his place. But he has in some sort been compelled
to do as he has done. If you would give me your word to keep the
secret, I could unravel the whole mystery. You have it at once,
interrupted she with eagerness; depend on it you shall be brought
into no scrape by me, therefore explain yourself without reserve.
Well, then! replied I, the fact is, without paraphrase,
circumlocution, loss of time, or perplexity of understanding, as
I shall distinctly state in two short words -- Not half a minute
after the receipt of your letter, there came into our house a
lady, under a veil as impenetrable as her purpose was dark. She
inquired for Signor Pacheco, and talked with him in private for
some time. At the close of the conversation, I overheard her
saying -- You swear to me never to see her more; but we must not
stop there, to set my heart completely at rest you must instantly
write her a farewell letter of my dictating. You know my terms.
Don Lewis did as she desired, then giving the result into my
custody -- Acquaint yourself; said he, where Doctor Murcia de la
Liana lives, and contrive to administer this love potion to his
daughter Isabella.

You see plainly, madam, pursued I, that this uncivil epistle is a
rival's handiwork, and that consequently my master is not so much
to blame as he appears. Oh, heaven! exclaimed she, he is more so
than I was aware of. His words might have been the error of his
hand, but his infidelity is the offence of his heart. Faithless
man! Now he is held by other ties . . . . But, added she,
assuming an air of disdain, let him devote himself unconstrained
to his new passion; I shall never cross him. Tell him, however,
that he need not have insulted me. I should have left the course
open to my rival, without his warning me from the field: for so
fickle a lover has not soul enough about him to pay for the
degradation of soliciting his return. With this sentiment she
gave me my dismissal, and retired in a whirlwind of passion
against Don Lewis.

My exit was conducted entirely to my own satisfaction, for I
conceived that with due cultivation of my talent I might in time
become a consummate hypocrite and most successful cheat. I
returned home on the strength of it, where I found my worthy
masters, Mendoza and Pacheco, supping together, and rattling away
as if they had been playfellows from their cradles. Aurora saw at
once, by myself-sufficient air, that her commission had not been
neglected in my hands. Here you are again then, Gil Blas, said
she, give us an account of your embassy. Wit and invention was
all I had to trust to, so I told them I had delivered the packet
into Isabella's own hands; who, after having glanced over the
contents of the two letters, so far from seeming disconcerted,
burst into a fit of laughter, as if she had been mad, and said --
Upon my word, our young men of fashion write in a pretty style.
It must be owned they are much more entertaining than scribes of
plebeian rank. It was a very good way of getting out of the
scrape, exclaimed my mistress, she must be an arrant coquette.
For my part, said Don Lewis, I cannot trace a feature of Isabella
in this conduct. Her character must have been completely
metamorphosed in my absence. She struck me too in a very
different light, replied Aurora. It must be allowed some women
can assume all modes and fashions at will. I was once in love
with one of that description, and a fine dance she led me. Gil
Blas can tell you the whole story! She had an air of propriety
about her which might have imposed upon a whole synod of old
maids. It is true, said I, putting in my oar; it was a face to
play the devil with a sworn bachelor, I could scarcely have been
proof against it myself.

The personated Mendoza and Pacheco shouted with laughter at my
manner of expressing myself; the one for the false witness I bore
against a culprit of my own creation; the other laughed simply at
the phrase in which my anathema was couched. We wait on talking
about the versatility of women, and the verdict, after hearing
the evidence, all on one side, was given against Isabella. A
convicted coquette! and sentence passed on her accordingly. Don
Lewis made a fresh vow never to see her more and Don Felix, after
his example, swore to hold her in eternal abhorrence. By dint of
these mutual protestations a sort of friendship was established
on the spur of the occasion, and they promised on both sides to
keep -- no secrets from each other. The time after supper
passed in ingratiating intercourse, and the time seemed short
till they retired to their separate apartments. I followed Aurora
to hers, where I gave her a faithful account of my conversation
with the Doctor's daughter, not forgetting the most trivial
circumstance. She had much ado to help kissing me for joy. My
dear Gil Blas, said she, I am delighted with your spirit. When
one has the misfortune to be engaged in a passion not to be
gratified but by stratagems, what an advantage is it to secure on
the right side a lad of so enterprising a genius as yourself.
Courage, my friend, we have thrown a rival into the background,
whose presence in the scene might have marred our comedy. So far,
all is well. But as lovers are subject to strange vagaries, it
seems to me that we must make short work of it, and bring Aurora
de Guzman on the stage to-morrow. The idea met with my entire
approbation; so leaving Signor Don Felix with his page, I
withdrew to bed in an adjoining closet.

*Note: "Ivory fences": Should this phrase appear far-fetched in
the person of Gil Blas, it may be recollected, that though not
much of a student himself, he had waited on students; and might
have sucked in, while standing behind their chairs, along with
"fates and destinies, and such old sayings, the sisters three,
and such branches of learning," that exquisitely characteristic
Greek metaphor -- "a hedge of teeth." -- TRANSLATOR.

 

 

 

 

CH. VI. -- Aurora's devices to secure Don Lewis Pacheco's
affections.

THE two new friends met as soon as they came down in the morning.
The ceremonies of the day began with reciprocal embraces, about
which it was impossible for Aurora to be squeamish, for then Don
Felix must have dropped the mask altogether. They went out and
walked about town arm in arm, attended by Chilindron, Don Lewis's
footman, and myself. We loitered about the gates of the
university, looking at some posting bills and advertisements of
new publications. There were a good many people amusing
themselves, like us, with reading over the contents of these
placards. Among the rest my eye was caught by a little fellow,
who was giving his opinion very learnedly on the works exposed to
sale. I observed him to be heard with profound attention, and
could not help remarking how amply he deserved it in his own
opinion. He was evidently a complete coxcomb, of an arrogant and
dictatorial stamp, the common curse of your gentry under size.
This new translation of Horace, said he, announced here to the
public in letters of a yard long, is a prose work, executed by an
old college author. The students have taken a great fancy to the
book; so as to carry off four editions. But not a copy has been
bought by any man of taste! His criticisms were scarcely more
candid on any of the other books; he mauled them every one
without mercy. It was easy enough to see he was an author! I
should not have been sorry to have staid out his harangue, but
Don Lewis and Don Felix were not to be left in the lurch. Now
they took as little pleasure in this gentleman's remarks as they
felt interest in the books which he was Scaligerising, so that
they took a quiet leave of him and the university.

We returned home at dinner-time. My mistress sat down at table
with Pacheco, and dexterously turned the conversation on her
private concerns. My father, said she, is a younger branch of the
Mendoza family, settled at Toledo, and my mother is own sister to
Donna Kimena de Guzman, who came to Salamanca some days ago on an
affair of business, with her niece Aurora, only daughter of Don
Vincent de Guzman, whom possibly you might be acquainted with.
No, answered Don Lewis, but I have often heard of him, as well as
of your cousin Aurora. Is it true what they say of her? Her wit
and beauty are reported to be unrivalled. As for wit, replied Don
Felix, she certainly is not wanting, for she has taken great
pains to cultivate her mind. But her beauty is by no means to be
boasted of; indeed, we are thought to be very much alike. If that
is the case, exclaimed Pacheco, she cannot be behindhand with her
reputation. Your features are regular, your complexion almost too
fine for a man; your cousin must be an absolute enchantress. I
should like to see and converse with her. That you shall, if I
have any interest in the family, and this very day too, replied
the little Proteus of a Mendoza. We will go and see my aunt after
dinner.

My mistress took the first opportunity of changing the topic, and
conversing on indifferent subjects. In the afternoon, while the
two friends were getting ready to go and call on Donna Kimena, I
played the scout, and ran before to prepare the duenna for her
visitors. But there was no time to be lost on my return, for Don
Felix was waiting for me to attend Don Lewis and him on their way
to his aunt's. No sooner had they stepped over the threshold than
they were encountered by the adroit old lady, making signs to
them to walk as softly as possible. Hush! hush! said she, in a
low voice, you will waken my niece. Ever since yesterday she has
had a dreadful headache, but is just now a little better; and the
poor girl has been taking a little sleep for the last quarter of
an hour. I am sorry for this unlucky accident, said Mendoza, I
was in hopes we should have seen my cousin. Besides, I meant to
have introduced my friend Pacheco. There is no such great hurry
on that account, answered Ortiz with a significant smile, and if
that is all, you may defer it till to-morrow. The gentlemen did
not trouble the old lady with a long visit, but took their leave
as soon as they decently could.

Don Lewis took us to see a young gentleman of his acquaintance,
by name Don Gabriel de Pedros. There we stayed the remainder of
the day, and took our suppers. About two o'clock in the morning
we sallied forth on our return home. We had got about half-way,
when we stumbled against something on the ground, and discovered
two men stretched at their length in the street. We concluded
they had fallen under the knife of the assassin, and stopped to
assist them, if yet within reach of assistance. As we were
looking about to inform ourselves of their condition, as nearly
as the darkness of the night would allow, the patrole came up.
The officer took us at first for the murderers, and ordered his
people to surround us; but he mended his opinion of us on the
sound of our voices, and by favour of a dark lantern held up to
the faces of Mendoza and Pacheco. His myrmidons, by his
direction, examined the two men, whom our fancies had painted as
in the agonies of death, but it turned out to be a fat licentiate
with his servant, both of them overtaken in their cups, and not
dead, but dead drunk. Gentlemen, exclaimed one of the posse, this
jolly fellow is an acquaintance of mine. What! do you not know
Signor Guyomer the licentiate, head of our university? With all
his imperfections he is a great character, a man of superior
genius. He is as staunch as a hound at a philosophical dispute,
and his words flow like a gutter after a hail-storm. He has but
three foibles in which he indulges; intoxication, litigation, and
fornication. He is now returning from supper at his Isabella's,
whence, the more is the pity, the drunk was leading the drunk,
and they both fell into the kennel. Before the good licentiate
came to the headship this happened continually. Though manners
make the man, honours, you perceive, do not always mend the
manners. We left these drunkards in custody of the patrole, who
carried them safe home, and betook ourselves to our lodging and
our beds.

Don Felix and Don Lewis were stirring about mid-day. Aurora de
Guzman was the first topic of their conversation. Gil Blas, said
my mistress to me, run to my aunt, Donna Kimena, and ask if there
is any admission for Signor Pacheco and me to-day, we want to see
my cousin. Off I went to acquit myself of this commission, or
rather to concert the plan of the campaign with the duenna. We
had no sooner laid our heads together to the purpose intended,
than I was once more at the elbow of the false Mendoza. Sir,
quoth I, your cousin Aurora has got about wonderfully. She
enjoined me from her own lips to acquaint you, that your visit
could not be otherwise than highly acceptable, and Donna Kimena
desired me to assure Signor Pacheco, that any friend of yours
would always meet with an hospitable reception.

These last words evidently tickled Don Lewis's fancy. My mistress
saw that the bait was swallowed, and prepared herself to haul the
prey to shore. Just before dinner, a servant made his appearance
from Signora Kimena, and said to Don Felix -- My lord, a man from
Toledo has been inquiring after you, and has left this note at
your aunt's house. The pretended Mendoza opened it, and read the
contents aloud to the following effect -- "If your father and
family still live in your remembrance, and you wish to hear of
their concerns, do not fail, on the receipt of this, to call at
the Black Horse, near the university." I am too much interested,
said he, in these proffered communications, not to satisfy my
curiosity at once. Without ceremony, Pacheco, you must excuse me
for the present; if I am not back again here within two hours,
you may find your way by yourself to my aunt's; I will join the
party in the evening. You recollect Gil Blas' message from Donna
Kimena, the visit is no more than what will be expected from you.
After having thrown out this hint, he left the room, and ordered
me to follow him.

It can scarcely be necessary to apprize the reader, that instead
of marching down to the Black Horse, we filed off to our other
quarters. The moment that we got within doors, Aurora tore off
her artificial hair, washed the charcoal from her eyebrows,
resumed her female attire, and shone in all her natural charms, a
lovely dark-complexioned girl. So complete indeed had been her
disguise that Aurora and Don Felix could never have been
suspected of identity. The lady seemed to have the advantage of
the gentleman even in stature, thanks to a good high pair of
heels, to which she was not a little indebted. It was her first
business to heighten her personal graces with all the
embellishments of art; after which she looked out for Don Lewis,
in a state of agitation, compounded of fear and of hope. One
instant she felt confident in her wit and beauty; the next she
anticipated the failure of her attempt. Ortiz, on her part, set
her best foot foremost, and was determined to play up to my
mistress. As for me, Pacheco was not to see my knave's face till
the last act of the farce, for which the great actors are always
reserved, to unravel the intricacy of the plot; so I went out
immediately after dinner.

In short, the puppet-show was all adjusted against Don Lewis's
arrival. He experienced a very gracious reception from the old
lady, in amends for whose tediousness he was blessed with two or
three hours of Aurora's delightful conversation. When they had
been together long enough, in popped I, with a message to the
enamoured spark. My lord, my master Don Felix begs you ten
thousand pardons, but he cannot have the pleasure of waiting on
you here this evening. He is with three men of Toledo, from whom
he cannot possibly get away. Oh! the wicked little rogue,
exclaimed Donna Kimena; as sure as a gun then he is going to make
a night of it. No, madam, replied I, they are deeply engaged in
very serious business. He is really distressed that he cannot pay
his respects, and commissioned me to say everything proper to
your ladyship and Donna Aurora. Oh! I will have none of his
excuses, pouted out my mistress, he knows very well that I have
been indisposed, and might shew some slight degree of feeling for
so near a relation. As a punishment, he shall not come near me
for this fortnight. Nay, madam, interposed Don Lewis, such a
sentence is too severe. Don Felix's fate is but too pitiable, in
having been deprived of your society this evening.

They bandied about their fine speeches on these little topics of
gallantry for some time, and then Pacheco withdrew. The lovely
Aurora metamorphosed herself in a twinkling, and resumed her
swashing outside. The grass did not grow under her feet while she
was running to the other lodging. I have a million of apologies
to make, my dear friend, said she to Don Lewis, for not giving
you the meeting at my aunt's; but there was no getting rid of the
tiresome people I was with. However, there is one comfort, you
have had so much the more leisure to look about you, and
criticise my cousin's beauty. Well! and how do you like her! She
is a most lovely creature, answered Pacheco. You were in the
right to claim a resemblance to her. I never saw more
correspondent features; the very same cast of countenance, the
eyes exactly alike, the mouth evidently a family feature, and the
tone of voice scarcely to be distinguished. The likeness,
however, goes no further, for Aurora is taller than you, she is
brown and you are fair, you are a jolly fellow, she has a little
touch of the demure; so that you are not altogether the male and
female Sosias. As for good sense, continued he, if an angel from
heaven were to whisper wisdom in one ear, and your cousin her
mortal chit-chat in the other, I am afraid the angel might
whistle for an audience. In a word, Aurora is all-accomplished.

Signor Pacheco uttered these last words with so earnest an
expression, that Don Felix said with a smile -- My friend, I
advise you to stay away from Donna Kimena's, it will be more for
your peace of mind. Aurora de Guzman may set your wits a
wandering, and inspire a passion . . . .

I have no need of seeing her again, interrupted he, to become
distractedly enamoured of her. I am sorry for you, replied the
pretended Mendoza, for you are not a man to be seriously caught,
and my cousin is not to be made a fool of; take my word for it.
She would never encourage a lover whose designs were otherwise
than honourable. Otherwise than honourable! retorted Don Lewis;
who could have the audacity to form such on a lady of her rank
and character? As for me, I should esteem myself the happiest of
mankind, could she be prevailed on to favour my addresses, and
link her fate with mine.

Since those are your sentiments, rejoined Don Felix, you may
command my services. Yes, I will go heart and hand with you in
the business. All my interest in Aurora shall be yours; and by
to-morrow morning I will commence an attack on my aunt, whose
good word has more influence than you may think. Pacheco returned
his thanks with the best air possible to this young go-between,
and we were all agog at the promising appearance of our
stratagem. On the following day we found the means of heightening
the dramatic effect by entangling the plot a little more. My
mistress, after having waited on Donna Kimena, as if to speak a
good word in favour of the suitor, came back with the result of
the interview. I have spoken to my aunt, said she, but it was as
much as I could do to make her hear your proposal with patience.
She was primed and loaded against you. Some good-natured friend
in the dark has painted you out for a reprobate; but I took your
part with some little quickness, and at length succeeded in
vindicating your moral character from the attack it had
sustained.

This is not all, continued Aurora. You had better enter on the
subject with my aunt in my presence, we shall be able to make
something of her between us. Pacheco was all impatience to
insinuate himself into the good graces of Donna Kimena; nor was
the opportunity deferred beyond the next morning. Our amphibious
Mendoza escorted him into the presence of Dame Ortiz, where such
a conversation passed between the trio as put fire and tow to the
combustible heart of Don Lewis. Kimena, a veteran performer, took
the cue of sympathy at every expression of tenderness, and
promised the enamoured youth that it should not be her fault if
his plea with her niece was urged in vain. Pacheco threw himself
at the feet of so good an aunt, and thanked her for all her
favours. In this stage of the business Don Felix asked if his
cousin was up. No, replied the Duenna, she is still in bed, and
is not likely to be down-stairs while you stay; but call again
after dinner, and you shall have a tкte-а-tкte with her to your
heart's content. It is easy to imagine that so coming on a
proposal from the dragon which was to guard this inaccessible
treasure, produced its full complement of joy in the heart of Don
Lewis. The remainder of the long morning had nothing to do but to
be sworn at! He went back to his own lodging with Mendoza, who
was not a little enraptured to observe, with the scrutinizing eye
of a mistress under the disguise of a friend, all the symptoms of
an incurable amorous infirmity.

Their tongues ran on no earthly subject but Aurora. When they had
done dinner, Don Felix said to Pacheco -- A thought has just
struck me. It would not be amiss for me to go to my aunt's a few
minutes before you; I will get to speak to my cousin in private,
and pry, if it be possible, into every fold and winding of her
heart, as far as your interests are concerned. Don Lewis just
chimed in with this idea, so that he suffered his friend to set
out first, and did not follow him till an hour afterwards. My
mistress availed herself so diligently of the interval, that she
was tricked out as a lady from heel to point before the arrival
of her lover. I beg pardon . . . . said the poor abused
inamorato, after having paid his compliments to Aurora and the
Duenna . . . . I took it for granted Don Felix would be here. You
will see him in a few seconds, answered Donna Kimena, he is
writing in my closet. Pacheco was easily put off with the excuse,
and found his time pass cheerfully in conversation with the
ladies. And yet, notwithstanding the presence of all his soul
held dear, it seemed very strange that hour after hour glided
away but no Mendoza stepped forth from the closet! He could not
help remarking, that the gentleman's correspondence must be
unusually voluminous, when Aurora's features all at once assumed
the broader contour of a laugh, with a delightfully provoking
question to Don Lewis -- Is it possible that love can be so
blind as not to detect the glaring imposition by which it has
been deluded? Has my real self made so faint an impression on
your senses, that a flaxen peruke and a pencilled eyebrow could
carry the farce to such a height as this? But the masquerade is
over now. Pacheco, continued she, resuming an air of gravity; you
are to learn that Don Felix de Mendoza and Aurora de Guzman are
but one and the same person.

It was not enough to discover to him all the springs and
contrivances by which he had been duped; she confessed the
motives of tender partiality that led her to the attempt, and
detailed the progress of the plot to the winding up of the
catastrophe. Don Lewis scarcely knew whether to be most
astonished or delighted at the recital; at my mistress's feet he
thus uttered the transports of his fond applause -- Ah! lovely
Aurora, can I believe myself indeed the happy mortal on whom your
favours have been so lavished? What can I do to make you amends
for them? My affection, were this life eternal, could scarcely
pay the price. These pretty speeches were followed by a thousand
others of the same quality and texture; after which the lovers
descended a little nearer to common sense, and began planning the
rational and human means of arriving at the accomplishment of
their wishes. It was resolved that we should set out without loss
of time for Madrid, where marriage was to drop the curtain on the
last act of our comedy. This purpose was executed in the spirit
of impatience which conceived it; so that Don Lewis was united to
my mistress in a fortnight, and the nuptial ceremonies were
graced with the usual accompaniments of music, feasting, balls,
and rejoicings, without either end or respite.


CH. VII -- Gil Blas leaves his place and goes into the service of
Don Gonzales Pacheco.

THREE weeks after marriage, my mistress bethought herself of
rewarding the services I had rendered her. She made me a present
of a hundred pistoles, telling me at the same time -- Gil Blas,
my good fellow, it is not that I mean to turn you away, for you
have my free leave to stay here as long as you please; but my
husband has an uncle, Don Gonzales Pacheco, who wants you very
much for a valet-de-chambre. I have given you so excellent a
character, that he would let me have no peace till I consented to
part with you. He is a very worthy old nobleman, so that you will
be quite in your element in his family.

I thanked Aurora for all her kindness; and, as my occupation was
over about her, I so much the more readily accepted the post that
offered, as it was merely a transfer from one branch of the
Pachecos to another. One morning, therefore, I called on the
illustrious Don Gonzales with a message from the bride. He ought
at least to have over-slept himself; for he was in bed at near
noon. When I went into his chamber, a page had just brought him a
basin of soup which he was taking. The dotard cherished his
whiskers, or rather tortured them with curling-papers; though his
eyes were sunk in their sockets, his complexion pale, and his
visage emaciated. This was one of those old codgers who have been
a little whimsical or so in their youth, and have made poor
amends for their freedoms by the discretion of their riper age.
His reception of me was affable enough, with an assurance that if
my attachment to him kept pace with my fidelity to his niece, my
condition should not be worse than that of my fellows. I promised
to place him in my late mistress's shoes, and became the working
partner in a new firm.

A new firm it undoubtedly was, and heaven knows we had a strange
head of the house. The resurrection of Lazarus was an ordinary
event compared to his getting up. Imagine to yourself a long bag
of dry bones, a mere skeleton, a dissection, an anatomy of a man;
a study in osteology! As for the legs, three or four pair of
stockings one over the other, had no room to make any figure upon
them. In addition to the foregoing, this mummy before death was
asthmatic, and therefore obliged to divide the little breath he
had between his cough and his loquacity. He breakfasted on
chocolate. On the strength of that refreshment, he ventured to
call for pen, ink, and paper, and to write a short note, which he
sealed and sent to its address by the page who had administered
the broth. But this henceforth will be your office, my good lad,
said he, as he turned his haggard eyes upon me; all my little
concerns will be in your hands, and especially those in which
Donna Euphrasia takes an interest. That lady is an enchanting
young creature, with whom I am distractedly in love, and by whom,
though I say it who should not say it, I am met with all the
mutual ardour of inextinguishable and unutterable passion.

Heaven defend us! thought I within myself: good now! if this old
antidote to rapture can fancy himself an object on which the fair
should waste their sweets, is it any wonder that among our young
folks each fancies himself the Adonis, for whom every Venus
pines? Gil Blas, pursued he with a chuckle, this very day will I
take you to this abode of pleasure; it is my house of call almost
every evening for a bit of supper. You will be quite petrified at
her modest appearance, and the rigid propriety of her behaviour.
Far from taking after those little wanton vagrants, who are hey-
go-mad after striplings, and give themselves up to the
fascinations of exterior appearance, she has a proper insight
into things, staid, ripe, and judicious: what she wants is the
bonв fide spirit and discretion of a man; a lover who has served
an apprenticeship to his trade, in preference to all the flashy
fellows of the modern school. This is but an epitome of the
panegyric, which the noble dupe Don Gonzales pronounced upon his
mistress. He burdened himself with the task of proving her a
compendium of all human perfection; but the lecture was little
calculated for the conviction of the hearer. I had attended an
experimental course among the actresses; and had always found
that the elderly candidates had been plucked in their amours.
Yet, as a matter of courtesy, it was impossible not to put on the
semblance of giving implicit credit to my master's veracity; I
even added chivalry to courtesy, and threw down my glove on
Euphrasia's penetration and the correctness of her taste. My
impudence went the length of asserting, that it was impossible
for her to have selected a better-provided crony. The grown-up
simpleton was not aware that I was fumigating his nostrils at the
expense of his addled brain; on the contrary, he bristled at my
praises; so true is it, that a flatterer may play what game he
likes against the pigeons of high life! They let you look over
their hand, and then wonder that you beat them.

The old crawler, having scribbled through his billet-doux,
restrained the luxuriance of a straggling hair or two with his
tweezers; then bathed his eyes in the nostrum of some perfumer to
give them a brilliancy which their natural gum would have
eclipsed. His ears were to be picked and washed, and his hands to
be cleansed from the effects of his other ablutions; and the
labours of the toilette were to be closed, by pencilling every
remaining hair in the disforested domain of his whiskers,
pericranium, and eyebrows. No old dowager, with a purse to buy a
second husband, ever took more pains to assure herself by the
cultivation of her charms, that the person and not the fortune
should be the object of attraction. The assassin stab of time was
parried by the quart and tierce of art. Just as he had done
making himself up, in came another old fogram of his
acquaintance, by name the Count of Asumar. This genius made no
secret of his grey locks; leant upon a stick, and seemed to plume
himself on his venerable age instead of wishing to appear in the
hey-day of his prime. Signor Pacheco, said he as he came in, I am
come to take pot-luck with you to-day. You are always welcome,
count, rejoined my master. No sooner said than done! they
embraced with a thousand grimaces, took their seats opposite to
one another, and began chatting till dinner was served.

Their conversation turned at first upon a bull-feast which had
taken place a few days before. They talked about the cavaliers,
and who among them had displayed most dexterity and vigour;
whereupon the old count, like another Nestor, whom present events
furnish with a topic of expatiating on the past, said with a
deep-drawn sigh: Alas! where will you meet with men now-a-days,
fit to hold a candle to my contemporaries? The public diversions
are a mere bauble, to what they were when I was a young man. I
could not help chuckling in my sleeve at my good lord of Asumar's
whim; for he did not stop at the handywork of human invention.
Would you believe it? At table, when the fruit was brought in, at
the sight of some very fine peaches, this ungrateful consumer of
the earth's produce exclaimed: In my time, the peaches were of a
much larger size than they are now; but nature sinks lower and
lower from day to day. If that is the case, said Don Gonzales
with a sneer, Adam's hot house fruit must have been of a most
unwieldy circumference.

The Count of Asumar staid till quite evening with my master, who
had no sooner got rid of him, than he sallied forth with me in
his train. We went to Euphrasia's, who lived within a stone's
throw of our house, and found her lodged in a style of the first
elegance. She was tastefully dressed, and for the youthfulness of
her air might have been taken to be in her teens, though thirty
bonny summers at least had poured their harvests in her lap. She
had often been reckoned pretty, and her wit was exquisite.
Neither was she one of your brazen-faced jilts, with nothing but
flimsy balderdash in their talk, and a libertine forwardness in
their manners: here was modesty of carriage as well as propriety
of discourse; and she threw out her little sallies in the most
exquisite manner, without seeming to aspire beyond natural good
sense. Oh heaven! said I, is it possible that a creature of so
virtuous a stamp by nature should have abandoned herself to
vicious courses for a livelihood? I had taken it for granted,
that all women of light character carried the mark of the beast
upon their foreheads. It was a surprise therefore to see such
apparent rectitude of conduct; neither did it occur to me that
these hacks for all customers could go at any pace, and assume
the polish of well-bred society, to impose upon their cullies of
the higher ranks. What if a lively petulance should be the order
of the day? they are lively and petulant. Should modesty take its
turn in the round of fashion, nothing can exceed their outward
show of prudent and delicate reserve. They play the comedy of
love in many masks; and are the prude, the coquette, or the
virago, as they fall in with the quiz, the coxcomb, or the bully.

Don Gonzales was a gentleman and a man of taste; he could not
stomach those beauties who call a spade a spade. Such were not
for his market; the rites of Venus must be consummated in the
temple of Vesta. Euphrasia had got up her part accordingly, and
proved by her performance that there is no comedy like that of
real life. I left my master, like another Numa with his Egeria,
and went down into a hall, where whom should fortune throw in my
way but an old abigail, whom I had formerly known as maid-of-all-
work to an actress? The recognition was mutual. So! well met once
more, Signor Gil Blas, said she. Then you have turned off
Arsenia, just as I have parted with Constance. Yes, truly,
answered I, it is a long while ago since I went away, and
exchanged her service for that of a very different lady. Neither
the theatre nor the people about it are to my taste. I gave
myself my own discharge, without condescending to the slightest
explanation with Arsenia. You were perfectly in the right,
replied the new-found abigail, called Beatrice. That was pretty
much my method of proceeding with Constance. One morning early, I
gave in my accounts with a very sulky air; she took them from me
in moody silence, and we parted in a sort of well-bred dudgeon.

I am quite delighted, said I, that we have met again, where we
need not be ashamed of our employers. Donna Euphrasia looks for
all the world like a woman of fashion, and I am much deceived if
she has not reputation too. You are too clear-sighted to be
deceived, answered the old appendage to sin. She is of a good
family; and as for her temper, I can assure you it is
unparalleled for evenness and sweetness. None of your termagant
mistresses, never to be pleased, but always grumbling and
scolding about everything, making the house ring with their
clack, and fretting poor servants to a thread, whose places, in
short, are a hell upon earth! I have not in all this time heard
her raise her voice on any occasion whatever. When things happen
not to be done exactly in her way, she sets them to rights
without any anger, nor does any of that bad language escape her
lips, of which some high-spirited ladies are so liberal. My
master, too, rejoined I, is very mild in his disposition; the
very milk of human kindness; and in this respect we are, between
ourselves, much better off than when we lived among the
actresses. A thousand times better, replied Beatrice; my life
used to be all bustle and distraction; but this place is an
actual hermitage. Not a creature darkens our doors but this
excellent Don Gonzales. You will be my only helpmate in my
solitude, and my lot is but too greatly blessed. For this long
time have I cherished an affection for you: and many a time and
oft have I begrudged that Laura the felicity of engrossing you
for her sweetheart; but in the end I hope to be even with her. If
I cannot boast of youth and beauty like hers, to balance the
account, I detest coquetry, and have all the constancy as well as
affection of a turtle-dove.

As honest Beatrice was one of those ladies who are obliged to
hawk their wares, and cheapen themselves for want of cheapeners
in the market, I was happily shielded from any temptation to
break the commandments. Nevertheless, it might not have been
prudent to let her see in what contempt her charms were held; for
which reason I forced my natural politeness so far, as to talk to
her in a style not to cut off all hope of my more serious
advances. I flattered myself then, that I had found favour in the
eyes of an old dresser to the stage: but pride was destined to
have a fall, even on so humble an occasion. The domestic
trickster did not sharpen her allurements, from any longing for
my pretty person; her design in subduing me to the little soft
god was to enlist me for the purposes of her mistress, to whom
she had sworn so passive an obedience, that she would have sold
her eternal self to the old chapman, who first set up the trade
of sin, rather than have disappointed her slightest wishes. My
vain conceit was sufficiently evident on the very next morning,
when I carried an Ovidian letter from my master to Euphrasia. The
lady gave me an affable
reception, and made a thousand pretty speeches, echoed from the
practised lips of her chambermaid. The expression of my
countenance was peculiarly interesting to the one: but that
within which passeth shew was the flattering theme of the other.
According to their account, the fortunate Don Gonzales had picked
up a treasure. In short, my praises ran so high, that I began to
think worse of myself than I had ever done in the whole course of
my life. Their motive was sufficiently obvious; but I was
determined to play at diamond cut diamond. The simper of a
simpleton is no bad countermine to the attack of a sharper. These
ladies under favour were of the latter description, and they soon
began to open their batteries.

Hark you, Gil Blas, said Euphrasia, fortune declares in your
favour if you do not balk her. Let us put our heads together, my
good friend. Don Gonzales is old, and a good deal shaken in
constitution; so that a very little fever, in the hands of a very
great doctor, would carry him to a better place. Let us take time
by the forelock, and ply our arts so busily as to secure to me
the largest slice of his effects. If I prosper, you shall not
starve, I promise you; and my bare word is a better security than
all the deeds and conveyances of all the lawyers in Madrid.
Madam, answered I, you have but to command me. Give me my
commission on your muster-roll, and you shall have no reason to
complain either of my cowardice or contumacy. So be it, then,
replied she. You must watch your master, and bring me an account
of all his comings and goings. When you are chatting together in
his more familiar moments, never fail to lead the conversation on
the subject of our sex; and then by an artful, but seemingly
natural transition, take occasion to say all the good you can
invent of me. Ring Euphrasia in his ears till all the house re-
echoes. I would counsel you besides to keep a wary eye on all
that passes in the Pacheco family. If you catch any relation of
Don Gonzales sneaking about him, with a design on the
inheritance, bring me word instantly: that is all you have to do,
and trust me for sinking, burning, and destroying him in less
than no time. I have ferreted out the weak side of all your
master's relations long ago; they are each of them to be made
ridiculous in some shape or other; so that the nephews and
cousins, after sitting to me for their portraits, are already
turned with their faces to the wall.

It was evident by these instructions, with many more to the same
time and tune, that Euphrasia was one of those ladies whose
partialities all lean to the side of elderly inamoratos, with
more money than wit. Not long before, Don Gonzales, who could
refuse nothing to the tender passion, had sold an estate; and she
pocketed the cash. Not a day passed, but she got some little
personal remembrance out of him; and besides all this, a corner
of his will was the ultimate object of her speculation. I
affected to engage hand over head in their infamous plot; and if
I must confess all without mental reservation, it was almost a
moot point, on my return home, on which side of the cause I
should take a brief. There was on either a profitable
alternative; whether to join in fleecing my master, or to merit
his gratitude by rescuing him from the plunderers. Con science,
however, seemed to have some little concern in the determination;
it was quite ridiculous to choose the by-path of villany when
there was a better toll to be taken on the highway of honesty.
Besides, Euphrasia had dealt too much in generals; an
arithmetical definition of so much for so much has more meaning
in it than "all the wealth of the Indies;" and to this shrewd
reflection, perhaps, was owing my uncorrupted probity. Thus did I
resolve to signalize my zeal in the service of Don Gonzales, in
the persuasion that if I was lucky enough to disgust the
worshipper by befouling his idol, it would turn to very good
account. On a statement of debtor and creditor between the right
and the wrong side of the action, the money balance was visibly
in favour of virtue, not to mention the delights of a fair and
irreproachable character.

If vice so often assumes the semblance of its contrary, why
should not hypocrisy now and then change sides for variety? I
held myself up to Euphrasia for a thorough swindler. She was dupe
enough to believe that I was incessantly talking of her to my
master; and thereupon I wove a tissue of frippery and falsehood,
which imposed on her for sterling truth. She had so completely
given herself up to my insinuations, as to believe me her
convert, her disciple, her confederate. The better still to carry
on this fraud upon fraud, I affected to languish for Beatrice;
and she, in ecstacy at her age to see a young fellow at her
skirts, did not much trouble herself about my sincerity, if I did
but play my part with vigour and address. When we were in the
presence of our princesses, my master in the parlour and myself
in the kitchen, the effect was that of two different pictures,
but of the same school. Don Gonzales, dry as touchwood, with all
its inflammability, and nothing but its smother, seemed a fitter
subject for extreme unction than for amorous parley; while my
little pet, in proportion to the violence of my flame, niggled,
nudged, toyed, and romped, like a school-girl in vacation; and no
wonder she knew her lesson so pat, for the old coquette had been
upwards of forty years in the form. She had finished her studies
under certain professors of gallantry, whose art of pleasing
becomes the more critical by practice; till they die under the
accumulated experience of two or three generations.

It was not enough for me to go every evening with my master to
Euphrasia's: it was sometimes my lounge even in day-time. But let
me pop my head in at what hour I would, that forbidden creature
man was never there, nor even a woman of any description, that
might not be just as easily expressed as understood. There was
not the least loop-hole for a paramour! a circumstance not a
little perplexing to one who could not readily believe, that so
pretty a bale of goods could submit to a strict monopoly, by such
a dealer as Don Gonzales. This opinion undoubtedly was formed on
a near acquaintance with female nature, as will be apparent in
the sequel; for the fair Euphrasia, while waiting for my master's
translation, fortified herself with patience in the arms of a
lover, with some little fellow-feeling for the frailties of her
age.

One morning I was carrying, according to custom, a note to this
peerless pattern of perfection. There certainly were, or I was
not standing in the room, the feet of a man ensconced behind the
tapestry. Out slunk I, just as if I had no eyes in my head; yet,
though such a discovery was nothing but what might have been
expected, neither was the piper to be paid out of my pocket, my
feelings were a good deal staggered at the breach of faith. Ah!
traitress, exclaimed I with virtuous indignation, abandoned
Euphrasia! Not satisfied to humbug a silly old gentleman with a
tale of love, you share his property in your person with another,
and add profligacy to dissimulation! But to be sure, on after-
thoughts, I was but a greenhorn, when I took on so for such a
trivial occurrence! It was rather a subject for mirth than for
moral reflection, and perfectly justified by the way of the
world; the languid, embargoed commerce of my master's amorous
moments had need be flipped by a trade in some more merchantable
wares. At all events it would have been better to have held my
tongue, than to have laid hold on such an opportunity of playing
the faithful servant. But instead of tempering my zeal with
discretion, nothing would serve the turn but taking up the wrongs
of Don Gonzales in the spirit of chivalry. On this high
principle, I made a circumstantial report of what I had seen,
with the addition of the attempt made by Euphrasia to seduce me
from my good faith. I gave it in her own words without the least
reserve, and put him in the way of knowing all that was to be
known of his mistress. He was struck all in a heap by my
intelligence, and a faint flash of indignation on his faded cheek
seemed to give security, that the lady's infidelity would not go
unpunished. Enough, Gil Blas, said he, I am infinitely obliged by
your attachment to my service, and your probity is very
acceptable to me. I will go to Euphrasia this very moment. I will
overwhelm her with reproaches, and break at once with the
ungrateful creature. With these words, he actually bent his way
to the subject of his anger; and dispensed with my attendance,
from the kind motive of sparing me the awkwardness which my
presence during their explanation would have occasioned to my
feelings.

I longed for my master's return with all the impatience of an
interested person. There could not be a doubt but that with his
strong grounds of complaint, he would return completely
disentangled from the snares of his nymph. In this thought I
extolled and magnified myself for my good deed. What could be
more flattering than the thanks of the kindred who were naturally
to inherit after Don Gonzales, when they should be informed that
their relative was no longer the puppet of a figure-dance so
hostile to their interests? It was not to be supposed but that
such a friend would be remembered, and that my merits would at
last be distinguished from those of other serving-men, who are
usually more disposed to encourage their masters in
licentiousness, than to draw them off to habits of decency. I was
always of an aspiring temper, and thought to have passed for the
Joseph or the Scipio of the servants' hall; but so fascinating an
idea was only to be indulged for an hour or two. The founder of
my fortunes came home. My friend, said he, I have had a very
sharp brush with Euphrasia. She insists on it that you have
trumped up a cock-and-bull story. If their word is to be taken,
you are no better than an impostor, a hireling in the pay of my
nephews, for whose sake you have set all your wits at work to
bring about a quarrel between her and me. I have seen the real
tears, made of water, run down in floods from her poor dear eyes.
She has vowed to me as solemnly as if I had been her confessor,
that she never made any overtures to you in her life, and that
she does not know what man is. Beatrice, who seems a simple,
innocent sort of girl, is exactly in the same story, so that I
could not but believe them and be pacified, whether I would or
no.

How then, sir? interrupted I, in accents of undissembled sorrow,
do you question my sincerity? Do you distrust . . . . No, my good
lad, interrupted he again in his turn, I will do you ample
justice. I do not suspect you of being in league with my nephews.
I am satisfied that all you have done has been for my good, and
own myself much obliged to you for it; but appearances are apt to
mislead, so that perhaps you did not see in reality what you took
it into your head that you saw; and in that case, only consider
yourself how offensive your charge must be to Euphrasia. Yet let
that be as it will, she is a creature whom I cannot help loving
in spite of my senses; so that the sacrifice she demands must be
made, and that sacrifice is no less than your dismission. I
lament it very much, my poor dear Gil Blas, and if that will be
any satisfaction to you, my consent was wrung from me most
unwillingly; but there was no saying nay. With one thing,
however, you may comfort yourself, you shall not be sent away
with empty pockets. Nay, more, I mean to turn you over to a lady
of my acquaintance, where you will live to your liking.

I was not a little mortified to find all my noble acts and
motives end in my own confusion. I gave a left-handed blessing to
Euphrasia, and wept over the weakness of Don Gonzales, to be so
foolishly infatuated by her. The kind hearted old gentleman felt
within himself that in turning me adrift at the peremptory demand
of his mistress, he was not performing the most manly action of
his life. For this reason, as a set-off against his hen-pecked
cowardice, and that I might the more easily swallow this bitter
dose, he gave me fifty ducats, and took me with him next morning
to the Marchioness of Chaves, telling that lady before my face,
that I was a young man of unexceptionably good character, and
very high in his good graces, but that as certain family reasons
prevented him from continuing me on his own establishment, he
should esteem it as a favour if she would take me on hers. After
such an introduction, I was retained at once as her appendage,
and found myself, I scarcely knew how, established in another
household.


CH. VIII. -- The Marchioness of Chaves: her character, and that
of her company.

THE Marchioness of Chaves was a widow of five-and-thirty, tall,
handsome, and well-proportioned. She enjoyed an income of ten
thousand ducats, without the incumbrance of a nursery. I never
met with a lady of fewer words, nor one of a more solemn aspect.
Yet this exterior did not prevent her from being set up as the
cleverest woman in all Madrid. Her great assemblies, attended by
people of the first quality, and by men of letters who made a
coffee house of her apartments, contributed perhaps more than
anything she said to give her the reputation she had acquired.
But this is a point on which it is not my province to decide. I
have only to relate, as her historian, that her name carried with
it the idea of superior genius, and that her house was called, to
distinguish it from the ordinary societies in town, The
Fashionable Institution for Literature, Taste, and Science.

In point of fact, not a day passed, but there were readings
there, sometimes of dramatic pieces, and sometimes in other
branches of poetry. But the subjects were always selected from
the graver muses; wit and humour were held in the most sovereign
contempt. Comedy, however spirited; a novel, however pointed in
its satire or ingenious in its fable, such light productions as
these were treated as weak efforts of the brain without the
slightest claim to patronage; whereas on the contrary the most
microscopical work in the serious style, whether ode, pastoral,
or sonnet, was trumpeted to the skies as the most illustrious
effort of a learned and poetical age. It not unfrequently fell
out, that the public reversed the decrees of this chancery for
genius: nay, they had sometimes the gross ill-breeding to hiss
the very pieces which had been sanctioned by this court of
criticism.

I was chief manager of the establishment, and my office consisted
in getting the drawing-room ready to receive the company, in
setting the chairs in order for the gentlemen, and the sofas for
the ladies: after which I took my station on the landing-place to
bawl out the names of the visitors as they came up stairs, and
usher them into the circle. The first day, an old piece of family
furniture, who was stationed by my side in the ante-chamber, gave
me their description with some humour, after I had shown them
into the room. His name was Andrew Molina. He had a good deal of
mother's wit, with a flowing vein of satire, much gravity of
sarcasm, and a happy knack at hitting off characters. The first
corner was a bishop. I roared out his lordship's name, and as
soon as he was gone in, my nomenclator told me -- That prelate
is a very curious gentleman. He has some little influence at
court; but wants to persuade the world that he has a great deal.
He presses his service on every soul he comes near, and then
leaves them completely in the lurch. One day he met with a
gentleman in the presence-chamber who bowed to him. He laid hold
of him, and squeezing his hand, assured him, with an inundation
of civilities, that he was altogether devoted to his lordship.
For goodness' sake, do not spare me; I shall not die in my bed
without having first found an opportunity of making you my
debtor. The gentleman returned his thanks with all becoming
expressions of gratitude, and when they were at some distance
from one another, the obsequious churchman said to one of his
attendants in waiting -- I ought to know that man; I have some
floating, indistinct idea of having seen him somewhere.

Next after the bishop, came the son of a grandee. When I had
introduced him into my lady's room -- This nobleman, said Molina,
is also an original in his way. You are to take notice that he
often pays a visit, for the express purpose of talking over some
urgent business with the friend on whom he calls, and goes away
again without once thinking on the topic he came solely to
discuss. But, added my showman on the sight of two ladies, here
are Donna Angela de Penafiel and Donna Margaretta de Montalvan.
This pair have not a feature of resemblance to each other. Donna
Margaretta prides herself on her philosophical acquirements; she
will hold her head as high as the most learned head among the
doctors of Salamanca, nor will the wisdom of her conceit ever
give up the point to the best reasons they can render. As for
Donna Angela, she does not affect the learned lady, though she
has taken no unsuccessful pains in the improvement of her mind.
Her manner of talking is rational and proper, her ideas are novel
and ingenious, expressed in polite, significant, and natural
terms. This latter portrait is delightful, said I to Molina; but
the other, in my opinion, is scarcely to be tolerated in the
softer sex. Not over bearable indeed! replied he with a sneer:
even in men it does but expose them to the lash of satire. The
good marchioness herself, our honoured lady, continued he, she
too has a sort of a philosophical looseness. There will be fine
chopping of logic there to-day! God grant the mysteries of
religion may not be invaded by these disputants.

As he was finishing this last sentence, in came a withered bit of
mortality, with a grave and crabbed look. My companion shewed him
no mercy. This fellow, said he, is one of those pompous,
unbending spirits who think to pass for men of profound genius,
under favour of a few common-places extracted out of Seneca; yet
they are but shallow coxcombs when one comes to examine them
narrowly. Then followed in the train a spruce figure, with
tolerable person and address, to say nothing of a troubled air
and manner, which always supposes a plentiful stock of self-
sufficiency. I inquired who this was. A dramatic poet! said
Molina. He has manufactured an hundred thousand verses in his
time, which never brought him in the value of a groat; but as a
set-off against his metrical failure, he has feathered his nest
very warmly by six lines of humble prose: you will wonder by what
magic touch a fortune could be made

And so I did; but a confounded noise upon the staircase put verse
and prose completely out of my head. Good again! exclaimed my
informer: here is the licentiate Campanario. He is his own
harbinger before ever he makes his appearance. He sets out from
the very street door in a continued volley of conversation, and
you hear how the alarm is kept up till he makes his retreat. In
good sooth, the vaulted roof re-echoed with the organ of the
thundering licentiate, who at length exhibited the case in which
the pipes were contained. He brought a bachelor of his
acquaintance by way of accompaniment, and there was not a sotto
voce passage during the whole visit. Signor Campanario, said I to
Molina, is to all appearance a man of very fine conversation.
Yes, replied my sage instructor, the gentleman has his lucky
hits, and a sort of quaintness that might pass for humour; he
does very well in a mixed company. But the worst of it is, that
incessant talking is one of his most pardonable errors. He is a
little too apt to borrow from himself; and as those who are
behind the scenes are not to be dazzled by the tinsel of the
property-man, so we know how to separate a certain volubility and
buffoonery of manner from sterling wit and sense. The greater
part of his good things would be thought very bad ones, if
submitted, without their concomitant grimaces, to the ordeal of a
jest book.

Other groups passed before us, and Molina touched them with his
wand. The marchioness too came in for a magic rap over the
knuckles. Our lady patroness, said he, is better than might be
expected for a female philosopher. She is not dainty in her
likings; and bating a whim or two, it is no hard matter to give
her satisfaction, Wits and women of quality seldom approach so
near the atmosphere of good sense; and for passion, she scarcely
knows what it is. Play and gallantry are equally in her black
books: dear conversation is her first and sole delight. To lead
such a life would be little better than penance to the common run
of ladies. Molina's character of my mistress established her at
once in my good graces. And yet, in the course of a few days, I
could not help suspecting that, though not dainty in her likings,
she knew what passion was, and that a foul copy of gallantry
delighted her more than the fairest conversation.

One morning, during the mysteries of the toilette, there
presented himself to my notice a little fellow of forty,
forbidding in his aspect, more filthy if possible than Pedro de
Moya the bookworm, and verging in no marketable measure towards
deformity. He told me he wanted to speak with my lady
marchioness. On whose business? quoth I. On my own, quoth he,
somewhat snappishly. Tell her I am the gentleman; . . . . she
will understand you; . . . . about whom she was talking yesterday
with Donna Anna de Velasco. I went before him into my lady's
apartment, and gave in his name. The marchioness all at once
shrieked out her satisfaction, and ordered me to show him in. It
was not courtesy enough to point to a chair, and bid him sit
down: but the attendants, forsooth, her own maids about her
person were to withdraw, so that the little hunchback, with
better luck than falls to the lot of many a taller man, had the
field entirely to himself, as lord paramount. As for the girls
and myself, we could not help tittering a little at this
uncouthly concerted duet, which lasted nearly an hour: when my
patroness dismissed his little lordship, with such a profusion of
farewells and God-be-with-you's, as sufficiently evinced her
thankfulness for the entertainment she had received.

The conversation had, in fact, been so edifying, that in the
afternoon she seized a private opportunity of whispering in my
ear -- Gil Blas, when the short gentleman comes again, you may
shew him up the back stairs; there is no need of parading him
along a line of staring servants. I did as I was ordered. When
this epitome of humanity knocked at the door, and that hour was
no further off than the next morning, we threaded all the bye
passages to the place of assignation. I played the same modest
part two or three times in the very innocence of my soul, without
the most distant guess that the material system could form any
part of their philosophy. But that hound-like snuff at an ill
construction, with which the devil has armed the noses of the
most charitable, put me on the scent of a very whimsical game,
and I concluded either that the marchioness had an odd taste, or
that crookback courted her as proxy to a better man.

Faith and troth, thought I, with all the impertinence of a hasty
opinion, if my mistress really likes a handsome fellow behind the
curtain, all is well; I forgive her her sins: but if she is stark
mad for such a monkey as this, to say the truth, there will be
little mercy for her on male or female tongues. But how foully
did I defame my honoured patroness! The genius of magic had
perched herself upon the little conjurer's protuberant shoulder;
and his skill having been puffed off to the marchioness, who was
just the right food for such jugglers and their tricks, she held
private conferences with him. Under his tuition she was to
command wealth and treasure, to build castles in the air, to
remove from place to place in an instant, to reveal future
events, to tell what is done in far countries, to call the dead
out of their graves, and terrify the world with many miracles.
Seriously, and to give him his deserts, the scoundrel lived on
the folly of the public; and it has been confidently asserted,
that ladies of fashion have not in all ages and countries been
exempt from the credulity of their inferiors.


CH. IX. -- An incident that parted Gil Blas and the Marchioness
of Chaves. The subsequent destination of the former.

FOR six months I lived with the Marchioness of Chaves, and, as it
must be admitted, on the fat of the land. But fate, who thrusts
footmen as well as heroes into the world, with herself tied about
their necks, gave me a jog to be gone, and swore that I should
stay no longer in that family or in Madrid. The adfsventure by
which this decree was announced shall be the subject of the
ensuing narrative.

In my mistress's female squad there was a nymph named Portia. To
say nothing of her youth and beauty, it was her meek demeanour
and good repute that captivated me, who had yet to learn that
none but the brave deserves the fair. The marchioness's
secretary, as proud as a prime minister, and as jealous as the
Grand Turk, was caught in the same trap as myself. No sooner did
he cast an unlucky squint at my advances, than, without waiting
to see how Portia might chance to fancy them, he determined pell-
mell to have a tilt with me. To forward this ghostly enterprise,
he gave me an appointment one morning in a place sadly impervious
to all seasonable interruption. Yet as he was a little go-by-the-
ground, scarcely up to my shoulders, and apparently of feeble
frame, he did not look like a very dangerous antagonist; so away
I went with some little courage to the appointed spot. Thinking
to come off with flying colours, I anticipated the effect of my
bravery on the heart of Portia; but as it turned out, I was
gathering my laurels before they had budded. The little
secretary, who had been practising for two or three years at the
fencing-school, disarmed me like a very baby, and holding the
point of his sword up to my throat, Prepare thyself, said he, to
balance thine accounts with this world, and open a correspondence
with the next, or give me thy rascally word to leave the
Marchioness of Chaves this very day, and never more to think of
my Portia. I gave him my rascally word, and was honest enough not
to think of breaking it. There was an awkwardness in shewing my
face before the servants of the family, after having been
worsted; and especially before the high and mighty princess who
had been the theme of our tournament. I only returned home to get
together my baggage and wages, and on that very day set off
towards Toledo, with a purse pretty well lined, and a knapsack at
my back with my wardrobe and moveables. Though my rascally word
was not given to abandon the purlieus of Madrid, I considered it
as a matter of delicacy to disappear, at least for a few seasons,
My resolution was to make the tour of Spain, and to halt first at
one town and then at another. My ready money, thought I, will
carry me a good way; I shall not call about me very prodigally.
When my stock is exhausted, I can but go into service again. A
lad of my versatility will find places in plenty, whenever it may
be convenient to look out for them.

It was particularly my wish to see Toledo: and I got thither
after three days' journey. My quarters were at a respectable
house of entertainment, where I was taken for a gentleman of some
figure, under favour of my best clothes, in which I did not fail
to bedizen myself. With the pick-tooth carelessness of a lounger,
the affectation of a puppy, and the pertness of a wit, it
remained with me to dictate the terms of an arrangement with some
very pretty women who infested that neighbourhood; but, as a hint
had been given me that the pocket was the high road to their good
graces, my amorous enthusiasm was a little flattered, and, as it
was no part of my plan to domesticate myself in any one place,
after having seen all the lions at Toledo, I started one morning
with the dawn, and took the road to Cuenзa, intending to go to
Arragon. On the second day I went into an inn which std open to
receive me by the road side. Just as I was beginning to recruit
the carnal department of my nature, in came a party belonging to
the Holy Brotherhood. These gentlemen called for wine, and set in
for a drinking bout. Over their cups they were conning the
description of a young man, whom they had orders to arrest. The
spark, said one of them, is not above three-and-twenty: be has
long black hair, is well grown, with an aquiline nose, and rides
a bay horse.

I heard their talk without seeming to be a listener; and, in
fact, did not trouble my head much about it. They remained in
their quarters, and I pursued my journey. Scarcely had I gone a
quarter of a mile, before I met a young gentleman on horseback,
as personable as need be, and mounted as described by the
officers. Faith and truth, thought I within myself, this is the
very identical man. Black hair and an aquiline nose! One cannot
help doing a good office when it comes in one's way. Sir, said I,
give me leave to ask you whether you have not some disagreeable
business on your hands? The young man, without returning any
answer, looked at me from head to foot, and seemed startled at my
question. I assured him it was not wanton curiosity that induced
me to address him. He was satisfied of that when I related all I
had heard at the inn. My unknown benefactor, said he, I will not
deny to you that I have reason to believe myself actually the
person of whom the officers are in quest: therefore I shall take
another road to avoid them. In my opinion, answered I, it would
be better to look out for a spot where you may be in safety, and
under shelter from a storm which is brewing, and will soon pour
down upon our heads. Without loss of time we discovered and made
for a row of trees, forming a natural avenue, which led us to the
foot of a mountain, where we found an hermitage.

There was a large and deep grotto which time had worn away into
the heart of the rock; and the hand of man had added a rude front
built of pebbles and shell-work, covered all over with turf: The
adjacent grounds were strewed with a thousand sorts of flowers,
which scattered their perfume; and one was pleased to see hard by
the grotto, a small fissure in the mountain, whence a spring
rippled with a tinkling noise, and poured its pellucid stream
along the meadow. At the entrance of this solitary abode stood a
venerable hermit, seemingly weighed down with years. He supported
himself with one hand upon a staff, and held a rosary of large
beads with the other, composed of at least twenty rows. His head
was almost lost in a brown woollen cap with long ears; and his
beard, whiter than snow, swept down in aged majesty to his waist.
We advanced towards him. Father, said I, is it your pleasure to
allow us shelter from the threatening storm? Come in, my sons,
replied the hermit, after examining me attentively; this
hermitage is at your service, to occupy it during pleasure. As
for your horse, added he, pointing to the court-yard of his
mansion, he will be very well off there. My companion disposed of
the animal accordingly, and we followed the old man into the
grotto.

No sooner had we got in than a heavy rain fell, with a terrific
storm of thunder and lightning. The hermit threw himself upon his
knees before a consecrated image, fastened to the wall, and we
followed the example of our host. Our devotions ceased with the
subsiding of the storm; but as the rain continued, though with
diminished violence, and night was not far distant, the old man
said to us -- My sons, you had better not pursue your journey in
such weather, unless your affairs are pressing. We answered with
one consent, that we had nothing to hinder us from staying there,
but the fear of incommoding him; but that if there was room for
us in the hermitage, we would thank him for a night's lodging.
You may have it without inconvenience, answered the hermit, at
least the inconvenience will be all your own. Your accommodation
will be rough, and your meal such as a recluse has to offer.

With this cordial welcome to a homely board, the holy personage
seated us at a little table, and set before us a few vegetables,
a crust of bread, and a pitcher of water. My sons, resumed he,
you behold my ordinary fare, but to day I will make a feast in
hospitality towards you. So saying, he fetched a little cheese
and some nuts, which he threw down upon the table. The young man,
whose appetite was not keen, felt but little tempted by his
entertainment. I perceive, said the hermit to him, that you are
accustomed to better tables than mine, or rather that sensuality
has vitiated your natural relish. I have been in the world like
you. The utmost ingenuity of the culinary art, whether to
stimulate or soothe the palate, was exerted by turns for my
gratification, But since I have lived in solitude, my taste has
recovered its simplicity. Now, vegetables, fruit, and milk, are
my greatest dainties; in a word, I keep an antediluvian table.

While he was haranguing after this fashion, the young man fell
into a deep musing. The hermit was aware of his inattention. My
son, said he, some thing weighs upon your spirits. May we not be
informed what disturbs you? Open your heart to me. Curiosity is
not my motive for questioning you, but charity, and a desire to
be of service. I am at a time of life to give advice, and you
perhaps are under circumstances to stand in need of it. Yes,
father, replied the gentleman with a sigh, I doubtless do stand
in need of it, and will follow yours, since you are so good as to
offer it; I cannot suppose there is any risk in unbosoming myself
to a man like you. No, my son, said the old man, you have nothing
to fear, it is under more stately roofs that confidences are
betrayed. On this assurance the cavalier began his story.


CH. X. -- The history of Don Alphonso and the fair Seraphina.

I WILL attempt no disguise from you, my venerable friend, nor
from this gentleman who completes my audience. After the
generosity of his conduct towards me, I should be in the wrong to
distrust him. You shall know my misfortunes from their beginning.
I am a native of Madrid, and came into the world mysteriously. An
officer of the German guard, Baron Steinbach by name, returning
home one evening, espied a bundle of fair linen at the foot of
his staircase. He took it up and carried it to his wife's
apartment, where it turned out to be a new-born infant, wrapped
up in very handsome swaddling-clothes, with a note containing an
assurance that it belonged to persons of condition, who would
come forward and own it at some future period; and the further
information that it had been baptized by the name of Alphonso. I
was that unfortunate stranger in the world, and this is all that
I know about myself. Whether honour or profligacy was the motive
of the exposure, the helpless child was equally the victim;
whether my unhappy mother wanted to get rid of me, to conceal an
habitual course of scandalous amours, or whether she had made a
single deviation from the path of virtue with a faithless lover,
and had been obliged to protect her fame at the expense of nature
and the maternal feelings.

However this might be, the Baron and his wife were touched by my
destitute condition, and resolved, as they had no children of
their own, to bring me up under the name of Don Alphonso. As I
grew in years and stature their attachment to me strengthened. My
manners, genteel before strangers and affectionate towards them,
were the theme of their fondest panegyric. In short, they loved
me as if I had been their own. Masters of every description were
provided for me. My education became their leading object; and
far from waiting impatiently till my parents should come forward,
they seemed, on the contrary, to wish that my birth might always
remain a mystery. As soon as the Baron thought me old enough to
bear arms, he sent me into the service. With my ensign's
commission, a genteel and suitable equipment was provided for me;
and, the more effectually to animate me in the career of glory,
my patron pointed out that the path of honour was open to every
adventurer, and that the renown of a warrior would be so much the
more creditable to me, as I should owe it to none but myself. At
the same time he laid open to me the circumstances of my birth,
which he had hitherto concealed. As I had passed for his son in
Madrid, and had actually thought myself so, it must be owned that
this communication gave me some uneasiness. I could not then, nor
can I even now, think of it without a sense of shame. In
proportion as the innate feelings of a gentleman bear testimony
to the birth of one, am I mortified at being rejected and
renounced by the unnatural authors of my being.

I went to serve in the Low Countries, but peace was concluded in
a short time; and Spain finding herself without assailants,
though not without assassins, I returned to Madrid, where I
received fresh marks of affection from the Baron and his wife.
Rather more than two months after my return, a little page came
into my room one morning, and presented me with a note couched
nearly in the following terms -- " I am neither ugly nor
crooked, and yet you often see me at my window without the
tribute of a glance. This conduct is little in unison with the
spirit of your physiognomy, and so far stings me to revenge that
I will make you love me if possible."

On the perusal of this epistle, there could be no doubt but it
came from a widow, by name Leonora, who lived opposite our house,
and had the character of a very great coquette. Hereupon I
examined my little messenger, who had a mind to be on the reserve
at first, but a ducat in hand opened the floodgates of his
intelligence. He even took charge of an answer to his mistress,
confessing my guilt, and intimating that its punishment was far
advanced.

I was not insensible to a conquest even of this kind. For the
rest of the day home and my window-seat were the grand
attraction; and the lady seemed to have fallen in love with her
window-seat too. I madesignals. She returned them; and on the
very next day sent me word by her little Mercury, that if I would
be in the street on the following night between eleven and
twelve, I might converse with her at a window on the ground-
floor. Though I did not feel myself very much captivated by so
coming on a kind of widow, it was impossible not to send such an
answer as if I was; and a sort of amorous curiosity made me as
impatient as if I had really been in love. In the dusk of the
evening, I went sauntering up and down the Prado till the hour of
assignation. Before I could get to my appointment, a man mounted
on. a fine horse alighted near me, and coming up with a
peremptory air -- Sir, said he, are not you the son of Baron
Steinbach? I answered in the affirmative. You are the person
then, resumed he, who were to meet Leonora at her window to-
night? I have seen her letters and your answers, her page has put
them into my hands, and I have followed you this evening from
your own house hither, to let you know you have a rival whose
pride is not a little wounded at a competition with yourself in
an affair of the heart. It would be unnecessary to say more. We
are in a retired place, let us therefore draw, unless, to avoid
the chastisement in store for you, you will give me your word to
break off all connection with Leonora. Sacrifice in my favour all
your hopes and interest, or your life must be the forfeit. It had
been better, said I, to have ensured my generosity by good
manners, than to extort my compliance by menaces. I might have
granted to your request what I must refuse to this insolent
demand.

Well, then, resumed he, tying up his horse and preparing for the
encounter, let us settle our dispute like men. Little could a
person of my condition have stomached the debasement of a
request, to a man of your quality. Nine out of ten in my rank
would, under such circumstances, have taken their revenge on
terms of less honour but more safety. I felt myself exasperated
at this last insinuation, so that, seeing he had already drawn
his sword, mine did not linger in the scabbard. We fell on one
another with so much fury, that the engagement did not last long.
Whether his attack was made with too much heat, or my skill in
fencing was superior, he soon received a mortal wound. He
staggered, and dropped dead upon the spot. In such a situation,
having no alternative but an immediate escape, I mounted the
horse of my antagonist, and went off in the direction of Toledo.
There was no venturing to return to Baron Steinbach's, since,
besides the danger of the attempt, the narrative of my adventure
from my own mouth would only afflict him the more, so that
nothing was so eligible as an immediate decampment from Madrid.

Chewing the cud of my own melancholy reflection, I travelled
onwards the remainder of the night and all the next morning. But
about noon it became necessary to stop, both for the sake of my
horse and to avoid the insupportable fierceness of the mid-day
heat. I staid in a village till sun-set, and then, intending to
reach Toledo without drawing bit, went on my way. I had already
got two leagues beyond Ilescas, when, about midnight, a storm
like that of to day overtook me as I was jogging along the road.
There was a garden wall at some little distance, and I rode up to
it. For want of any more commodious shelter, my horse's station
and. my own were arranged, as comfortably as circumstances would
admit, near the door of a summer-house at the end of the wall,
with a balcony over it. Leaning against the door, I discovered it
to be open, owing, as I thought, to the negligence of the
servants. Having dismounted, less from curiosity than for the
sake of a better standing, as the rain had been very troublesome
under the balcony, I went into the lower part of the summer-
house, leading my horse by the bridle.

My amusement during the storm was in reconnoitring my quarters;
and though I had nothing to form an opinion by, but the lurid
gleams of the lightning, it was very evident that such a house
must belong to some family above the common. I was waiting
anxiously till the rain abated, to set forward again on my
journey; but a great light at a distance made me change my
purpose. Leaving my horse in the summer-house, with the
precaution of fastening the door, I made for the light, in the
assurance that they were not all gone to bed in the house, and
with the intention of requesting a lodging for the night. After
crossing several walks, I came to a saloon, and here too the door
was left open. On my entrance, from the magnificence so
handsomely displayed by the light of a fine crystal lustre, it
was easy to conclude that this must be the residence of some
illustrious nobleman. The pavement was of marble, the wainscot
richly carved and gilt, the proportions of architecture
tastefully preserved, and the ceiling evidently adorned by the
masterpieces of the first artists in fresco. But what
particularly engaged my attention was a great number of busts,
and those of Spanish heroes, supported on jasper pedestals, and
ranged round the saloon. There was opportunity enough for
examining all this splendour, since there was not even a foot-
fall, nor the shadow of any one gliding along the passage, though
my ears and eyes were incessantly on the watch for some
inhabitant of this fairy desert.

On one side of the saloon there was a door a-jar; by pushing it a
little wider open, I discovered a range of apartments, with a
light only in the furthest. What is to be done now? thought I
within myself. Shall I go back, or take the liberty of marching
forward, even to that chamber? To be sure, it was obvious that
the most prudent step would be to make good my retreat; but
curiosity was not to be repelled, or rather, to speak more truly,
my star was in its ascendant. Advancing boldly from room to room,
at length I reached that where the light was. It was a wax taper
on a marble slab, in a magnificent candlestick. The first object
that caught my eye was the gay furniture of this summer abode;
but soon afterwards, casting a look towards a bed, of which the
curtains were half undrawn on account of the heat, an object
arrested my attention, which engrossed it with the deepest
interest. A young lady, in spite of the thunderclaps which had
been pealing round her, was sleeping there, motionless and
undisturbed. I approached her very gently, and by the light of
the taper I had seized, a complexion and features the most
dazzling were submitted to my gaze. My spirits were all afloat at
the discovery. A sensation of transport and delight came over me;
but however my feelings might harass my own heart, my conviction
of her high birth checked every presumptuous hope, and awe
obtained a complete victory over desire. While I was drinking in
floods of adoration at the shrine of her beauty, the goddess of
my homage awoke.

You may well suppose her consternation, at seeing a man, an utter
stranger, in her bedchamber, and at midnight. She was terrified
at this strange appearance, and uttered a loud shriek. I did my
best to restore her composure, and throwing myself on my knees in
the humblest posture, Madam, said I, fear nothing. My business
here is not to hurt you. I was going on, but her alarm was so
great that she was incapable of hearing my excuses. She called
her woman with a most vehement importunity, and as she could get
no answer, she threw over her a thin night-gown at the foot of
the bed, rushed rapidly out of the room, and darted into the
apartments I had crossed, still calling her female establishment
about her, as well as a younger sister whom she had under her
care. I looked for nothing less than a posse of strapping footmen
who were likely, without hearing my defence, to execute summary
justice on so audacious a culprit; but by good luck, at least for
me, her cries were to no purpose; they only roused an old
domestic, who would have been but a sorry knight had any ravisher
or magician invaded her repose. Nevertheless, assuming somewhat
of courage from his presence, she asked me haughtily who I was,
by what inlet and to what purpose I had presumptuously gained
admission into her house. I began then to enter on my
exculpation, and had no sooner declared that the open door of the
summer-house in the garden had invited my entrance, than she
exclaimed as if thunderstruck -- Just heaven! what an idea darts
across my mind!

As she uttered these words, she caught at the wax light on the
table; then ran through all the apartments one after another,
without finding either her attendants or her sister. She
remarked, too, that all their personals and wardrobe were carried
off. With such a comment on her hasty suspicions, she came up to
me and said, in the hurried accent of suspense and perturbation:
Traitor! add not hypocrisy to your other crimes. Chance has not
brought you hither. You are in the train of Don Ferdinand de
Leyva, and are an accomplice in his guilt. But hope not to
escape, there are still people enough about me to secure you.
Madam, said I, do not confound me with your enemies. Don
Ferdinand de Leyva is a stranger to me; I do not even know who
you are. You see before you an outcast, whom an affair of honour
has compelled to fly from Madrid; and I swear by whatever is most
sacred among men, that had not a storm overtaken me, I should
never have set my foot over your threshold. Entertain, then, a
more favourable opinion of me. So far from suspecting me for an
accomplice in any plot against you, believe me ready to enlist in
your defence, and to revenge your wrongs. These last words, and
still more the sincere tone in which they were delivered,
convinced the lady of my innocence, and she seemed no longer to
look on me as her enemy; but if her anger abated it was only that
her grief might sway more absolutely. She began weeping most
bitterly. Her tears called forth my sympathy, and my affliction
was scarcely less poignant than her own, though the cause of this
contagious sorrow was still to be ascertained. Yet it was not
enough to mingle my tears with hers; in my impatience to become
her defender and avenger, an impulse of terrific fury came over
me. Madam, exclaimed I, what outrage have you sustained? Let me
know it, and your injuries are mine. Would you have me hunt out
Don Ferdinand, and stab him to the heart? Only tell me on whom
your justice would fall, and they shall suffer. You have only to
give the word. Whatever dangers, whatever certain evils may be
attendant on the execution of your orders, the unknown, whom you
thought to be in league with your enemies, will brave them all in
your cause.

This enraptured devotion surprised the lady, and stopped the
flowing of her tears, Ah! sir, said she, forgive this suspicion,
and attribute it to the blindness of my cruel fate. A nobility of
sentiment like this speaks at once to the heart of Seraphina: and
while it undeceives, makes me the less repine at a stranger being
witness of an affront offered to my family. Yes, I own my error,
and revolt not, unknown as you are, from your proffered aid. But
the death of Don Ferdinand is not what I require. Well, then,
madam, resumed I, of what nature are the services you would
enjoin me? Sir, replied Seraphina, the ground of my complaint is
this: Don Ferdinand de Leyva is enamoured of my sister Julia,
whom he met with by accident at Toledo, where we for the most
part reside. Three months since, he asked her in marriage of the
Count de Polan, my father, who refused his consent on account of
an old grudge subsisting between the families. My sister is not
yet fifteen, she must have been indiscreet enough to follow the
evil counsels of my woman, whom Don Ferdinand has doubtless
bribed; and this daring ruffian, advertised of our being alone at
our country-house, has taken the opportunity of carrying off
Julia. At least I should like to know what hiding-place he has
chosen to deposit her in, that my father and my brother, who have
been these two months at Madrid, may take their measures
accordingly. For heaven's sake, added she, give yourself the
trouble of examining the neighbourhood of Toledo, an act so
heinous cannot escape detection, and my family will owe you a
debt of ever lasting gratitude.

The lady was little aware how unseasonable an employment she was
thrusting upon me. My escape from Castile could not be too soon
effected; and yet how should such a reflection ever enter into
her head, when it was completely superseded in mine by a more
powerful suggestion? Delighted at finding myself important to the
most lovely creature in the universe, I caught at the commission
with eagerness, and promised to acquit myself of it with equal
zeal and industry. In fact, I did not wait for daybreak, to go
about fulfilling my engagement. A hasty leave of Seraphina gave
me occasion to beg her pardon for the alarm I had caused her, and
to assure her that she should speedily hear some what of my
adventure. I went out as I came in, but so wrapped up in
admiration of the lady, that it was palpable I was completely
caught. My sense of this truth was the more confirmed, by the
eagerness with which I embarked in by the romantic, gaily-
coloured bubbles which my passion blew. It struck my fancy that
Seraphina, though engrossed by her affliction, had remarked the
hasty birth of my love, without being displeased at the
discovery. I even flattered myself that if I could furnish her
with any certain intelligence of her sister, and the business
should terminate in any degree to her satisfaction, my part in it
would be remembered to my advantage.

Don Alphonso broke the thread of his discourse at this passage,
and said to our aged host: I beg your pardon, father, if the
fullness of my passion should lead me to dilate too long upon
particulars, wearisome and uninteresting to a stranger. No, my
son, replied the hermit, such particulars are not wearisome: I am
interested to know the state and progress of your passion for the
young lady you are speaking of; my counsels will be influenced by
the minute detail you are giving me.

With my fancy heated by these seductive images, resumed the young
man, I was two days hunting after Julia's ravisher: but in vain
were all the inquiries that could be made; by no means I could
devise was the least trace of him to be discovered. Deeply
mortified at the unsuccessful issue of my search, I bent my steps
back to Seraphina, whom I pictured to myself as overwhelmed with
uneasiness. Yet she was in better spirits than might have been
expected. She informed me that her success had been better than
mine; for she had learned how her sister was disposed of. She had
received a letter from Don Ferdinand himself, importing that
after being privately married to Julia, he had placed her in a
convent at Toledo. I have sent his letter to my father, pursued
Seraphina. I hope the affair may be adjusted amicably, and that a
solemn marriage will soon extinguish the feuds which have so long
kept our respective families at variance.

When the lady had thus informed me of her sister's fate, she
began making an apology for the trouble she had given me, as well
as the danger into which she might imprudently have thrown me, by
engaging my services in pursuit of a ravisher, without
recollecting what I had told her, that an affair of honour had
been the occasion of my flight. Her excuses were couched in such
flattering terms, as to convert her very oversight into an
obligation. As rest was desirable for me after my journey, she
conducted me into the saloon, where we sat down together. She
wore an undress gown of white taffety with black stripes, and a
little hat of the same materials with black feathers; which gave
me reason to suppose that she might be a widow. But she looked so
young, that I scarcely knew what to think of it.

If I was all impatient to get at her history, she was not less so
to know who I was. She besought me to acquaint her with my name,
not doubting, as she kindly expressed it, by my noble air, and
still more by the generous pity which had made me enter so warmly
into her interests, that I belonged to some considerable family.
The question was not a little perplexing. My colour came and
went, my agitation was extreme: and I must own that, with less
repugnance to the meanness of a falsehood than to the
acknowledgment of a disgraceful truth, I answered that I was the
son of Baron Steinbach, an officer of the German guard. Tell me,
likewise, resumed the lady, why you left Madrid. Before you
answer my question, I will insure you all my father's credit, as
well as that of my brother Don Gaspard. It is the least mark of
gratitude I can bestow on a gentleman who, for my service, has
neglected the preservation even of his own life. Without further
hesitation, I acquainted her with all the circumstances of my
rencounter: she laid the whole blame on my deceased antagonist,
and engaged to interest all her family in my favour.

When I had satisfied her curiosity, it seemed not unreasonable to
plead in favour of my own. I inquired whether she was maid, wife,
or widow. It is three years, answered she, since my father made
me marry Don Diego de Lara; and I have been a widow these fifteen
months. Madam, said I, by what misfortune were your wedded joys
so soon interrupted? I am going to inform you, sir, resumed the
lady, in return for the confidence you have reposed in me.

Don Diego de Lara was a very elegant and accomplished gentleman:
but, though his affection for me was extreme, and every day was
witness to some attempt at giving me pleasure, such as the most
impassioned and most tender lover puts in practice to win the
smile of her he loves; though he had a thousand estimable
qualities, my heart was untouched by all his merit. Love is not
always the offspring either of assiduity or desert. Alas! we are
often captivated at first sight by we know not whom, nor why, nor
how. To love, then, was not in my power. More disconcerted than
gratified by his repeated offices of tenderness, which I received
with a forced courtesy, but without real plea ure, if I accused
myself in secret of ingratitude, I still thought myself an object
as much of pity as of censure. To his unhappiness and my own, his
delicacy more than kept pace with his affection. Not an action or
a speech of mine, but he unravelled all its hidden motives, and
fathomed all my thoughts, almost before they arose. The inmost
recesses of my heart were laid open to his penetration. He
complained without ceasing of my indifference; and esteemed
himself only so much the more unfortunate, in not being able to
please me, as he was well assured that no rival stood in his way;
for I was scarcely sixteen years old; and, before he paid his
addresses to me, he had tampered with my women, who had assured
him that no one had hitherto attracted my attention. Yes,
Seraphina, he would often say, I could have been contented that
you had preferred some other to myself; and that there were no
more fatal cause of your insensibility. My attentions and your
own principles would get the better of such a juvenile
prepossession; but I despair of triumphing over your coldness,
since your heart is impenetrable to all the love I have lavished
on you. Wearied with the repetition of the same strain, I told
him that instead of disturbing his repose and mine by this excess
of delicacy, he would do better in trusting to the effects of
time. In fact, at my age, I could not be expected to enter into
the refinements of so sentimental a passion; and Don Diego should
have waited, as I warned him, for a riper period and more staid
reflection. But, finding that a whole year had elapsed, and that
he was no forwarder in my favour than on the first day, he lost
all patience, or rather, his brain became distracted. Affecting
to have important business at court, he took his leave, and went
to serve as a volunteer in the Low Countries; where he soon found
in the chances of war what he went to seek, the terminations of
his sufferings and of his life.

After the lady had finished her recital, her husband's uncommon
character became the topic of our discourse. We were interrupted
by the arrival of a courier, charged with a letter for Seraphina
from the Count De Polan. She begged my permission to read it; and
as she went on, I observed her to grow pale, and to become
dreadfully agitated. When she had finished, she raised her eyes
upward, heaved a long sigh, and her face was in a moment bathed
with her tears. Her sorrow sat heavily on my feelings. My spirits
were greatly disturbed; and, as if it were a forewarning of the
blow impending over my head, a death-like shudder crept through
my frame, and my faculties were all benumbed. Madam, said I, in
accents half choked with apprehension, may I ask of what dire
events that letter brings the tidings? Take it, sir, answered
Seraphina most dolefully, while she held out the letter to me.
Read for yourself what my father has written. Alas! you are but
too deeply concerned in the contents.

At these words, which made my blood run cold, I took the letter
with a trembling hand, and found in it the following
intelligence: "Your brother, Don Gaspard, fought yesterday at the
Prado. He received a small sword wound, of which he died this
day: and declared, before he breathed his last, that his
antagonist was the son of Baron Steinbach, an officer of the
German guard. As misfortunes never come alone, the murderer has
eluded my vengeance by flight, but wherever he may have concealed
himself, no pains shall be spared to hunt him out. I am going to
write to the magistrates all round the country, who will not fail
to take him into custody, if he passes through any one of the
towns in their jurisdiction, and by the notices I am going to
circulate, I hope to cut off his retreat in the country or at the
sea-ports. -- THE COUNT DE POLAN."

Conceive into what a ferment this letter threw all my thoughts. I
remained for some moments motionless and without the power of
speech. In the midst of my confusion, I too plainly saw the
destructive bearing of Don Gaspard's death on the passion I had
imbibed. My despair was unbounded at the thought. I threw myself
at Seraphina's feet, and offering her my naked sword, Madam, said
I, spare the Count de Polan the necessity of seeking further for
a man who might possibly withdraw himself from his resentment. Be
yourself the avenger of your brother: offer up his murderer as
the victim of your own hand: now, strike the blow. Let this very
weapon which terminated his life, cut short the sad remnant of
his adversary's days. Sir, answered Seraphina, a little softened
by my behaviour, I loved Don Gaspard, so that though you killed
him in fair and manly hostility, and though he brought his death
upon himself; you may rest assured that I take up my father's
quarrel. Yes, Don Alphonso, I am your decided enemy, and will do
against you all that the ties of blood and friendship require at
my hands. But I will not take advantage of your evil star: in
vain has it delivered you into my grasp: if honour arms me
against you, the same sentiment forbids to pursue a cowardly
revenge. The rights of hospitality must be inviolable, and I will
not repay such service as you have rendered me with the treachery
of an assassin. Fly! make your escape, if you can, from our
pursuit and from the rigour of the laws, and save your forfeit
life from the dangers that beset it.

What, then! madam, returned I, when vengeance is in your own
hands, do you turn it over to the laws, which may, perhaps, be
too slow for your impatience? Nay! rather stab a wretch who is
not worthy of your forbearance. No, madam, maintain not so noble
and so generous a proceeding with one like me. Do you know who I
am? All Madrid takes me for Baron Steinbach's son -- yet am I
nothing better than a foundling, whom he brought up from charity.
I know not even who were guilty of my existence. No matter,
interrupted Seraphina, with precipitation, as if my last words
had given her new uneasiness, though you were the lowest of
mankind I would do what honour bids. Well, madam, said I, since a
brother's death is insufficient to excite your thirst after my
blood, I will exasperate your hatred still further by a new
offence, of which I trust you will never pardon the boldness. I
dote on you: I could not behold your charms without being dazzled
by them: and, in spite of the cloud in which my destiny was
enveloped, I had cherished the hope of being united to you. I was
so infatuated by my passion, or rather by my pride, as to flatter
myself that heaven, which perhaps conceals from me my birth in
mercy, might discover it one day, and enable me without a blush
to acquaint you with my real name. After this injurious avowal,
can you hesitate a moment about punishing me?

This rash declaration, replied the lady, would doubtless prove
offensive at any other season; but I forgive it in consideration
of the trouble which bewilders you. Besides, my own condition so
engrosses me, as to render me deaf to any strange ideas that may
escape you. Once more, Don Alphonso, added she, shedding tears,
begone far from a house which you have cast into mourning: every
moment of your longer stay adds pungency to my distress. I no
longer oppose your will, madam, returned I, preparing to take my
leave: absence from you must then be my portion: but do not
suppose that, anxious for the preservation of a life which is
become hateful to you, I go to seek an asylum where I may be
sheltered from your search. No, no, I bare my breast to your
resentment. I shall wait with impatience at Toledo for the fate
which you design me; and by surrendering at once to my pursuers,
shall myself forward the completion of my miseries.

At the conclusion of this speech I withdrew. My horse was
returned to me, and I went to Toledo, where I abode eight days,
and really with so little care to conceal myself that I know not
how or why I have escaped an arrest; for I cannot suppose that
the Count de Polan, whose whole soul is set on cutting off my
retreat, should not have been aware that I was likely to pass
through Toledo. Yesterday I left that town, where it should seem
as if I was tired of my liberty, and without betaking myself to
any fixed course of travelling, I came to this hermitage, like a
man who had no reason to be ashamed of shewing himself. Such,
father, was the cause of my absence and distraction. I beseech
you to assist me with your counsels.


CH. XI. -- The old hermit turns out an extraordinary genius, and
Gil Blas finds himself among his former acquaintance.

WHEN Don Alphonso had concluded the melancholy recital of his
misfortunes, the old hermit said to him -- My son, you have been
excessively rash in tarrying so long at Toledo. I consider in a
very different light from that you affect to place it in, what
you have told me of your story; and your love for Seraphina seems
to me to be sheer madness. Take my word for it, you will do well
to cancel that young lady from your remembrance; she never can be
of your communion. Retreat like a skilful general, when you
cannot act with effect on the offensive; and pursue your fortune
on another field, where success may smile on your endeavours. You
will be terribly out of luck to kill the brother of the next
young lady who may chance to succeed this only possible object of
your affection.

He was going to add many other inducements to resignation, in
such a case as Don Alphonso's, when we saw another hermit enter
our retreat, with a well-stuffed wallet slung across his
shoulders. He was on his return, with the charitable
contributions of all the good folks in the town of Cuenзa; and
the gathering did credit to the religion of the age. He looked
younger than his companion, in spite of his thick, foxy beard.
Welcome home, brother Anthony, said the elder of the two
recluses; what news do you bring us from town? Bad enough,
answered the carroty friar, putting into his hands a paper,
folded in the form of a letter; this little instrument will
inform you. The hoary sage opened it, and after reading on with
an increased attention, as the contents seemed to grow more
interesting, exclaimed: Heaven's will be done! Since the
combustion is anticipated, we have only to fall in with the
humour of our fate. Let us change our dialect, Signor Don
Alphonso! pursued he, addressing his discourse to my young
companion: you behold in me a man, like yourself; who has been a
broad mark for the wantonness of fortune to take aim at. Word is
sent me from Cuenзa, a town at the distance of a league hence,
that some backbiter has been blackening my fair fame in the
esteem of justice; who is coming with her hue and cry to disturb
the repose of these rural scenes, and to lay her paw upon my
person. But an old fox is too cunning to be caught in a trap.
This is not the first time that I have cut and run before the
bloodhounds of the law. But, thanks to myself for having my wits
about me, I have always ended the chase in a whole skin, and held
myself in readiness for another. It is now time to assume another
form; for, whether you like me best in my old skin or my new, I
cast my hermit's decrepit slough, to bask in the sunshine of
youth and vigour.

To suit the action to the word, he threw off the incumbrance of
his ecclesiastical petticoat, and stood forth to view in a
doublet of black serge with slashed sleeves. Then off went his
cap, and snap went a string, which supported the hoary honours of
a beard, and our anchorite was at once transformed to a brawny
ruffian of eight-and-twenty or thirty. Brother Anthony, following
a good example, discarded the outward show of religion, treated
his fiery beard as the snowy one had been handled just before,
and pulled out of an old worm-eaten trunk a sorry rag of a
cassock, with which he invested his person. But what words can
express my surprise, when Signor Don Raphael presented himself to
my view, like a phoenix from the ashes of the old bead-counter!
To complete the trick of the pantomime, brother Anthony was
turned into my faithful vassal and trusty squire, Ambrose de
Lamela. Here are miracles! exclaimed I in a quandary; as far as I
can perceive, we are all hail fellow well met! You never were
more lucky in your life, Signor Gil Blas, said Don Raphael, with
a brazen-faced good humour: you have fallen among old friends
when you least expected it. It must be owned you have a crow to
pluck with us; but let the past be buried in oblivion, and thank
heaven, here we are together again. Ambrose and I will serve
under your banner; and let me tell you, you will have subalterns
of no contemptible prowess. You may object to our morals; but
they are better in the main than many a hypocrite's pretensions.
We never assassinate, and rarely maltreat: and that in pure self-
defence. The only liberty we take with society is to live at free
quarters: and though robbery may be considered as containing some
little spice of injustice, the necessity we labour under of
committing it restores its equilibrium to the scale. Even join
your fortune with ours: you will lead a life of hazard, but of
variety. Our predatory peregrinations have every pastoral beauty
except innocence, and the want of that is more than counterpoised
by subtlety and stratagem. Not but, with all our forecast, a
certain mechanical concatenation of second causes sometimes
frustrates our best-concerted projects, and drags our philosophy
through the mire. But a ducking now and then only makes us swim
the better. The seasons must all be taken in their turns; the
blanks as well as the prizes must be drawn in the cheating
lottery of life.

Courteous stranger, pursued the pretended hermit, speaking to Don
Alphonso, we extend the proposal of partnership to you, and it
may be a question whether you will better yourself by rejecting
it, in the lamentable condition of your affairs; for, to say
nothing of the chance-medley for which you are at hide and seek,
your fortune is probably a little out at elbows. Most lamentably
so, said Don Alphonso; and hence, since the truth must out, are
my forebodings more dark than even my present evils. That is the
very thing! replied Don Raphael. You were sent by our better
genius to join the party. You will find no such good berth in the
honest part of the world. Your wants will all be supplied, and
you may laugh at the vigilance of your pursuers. There is not a
corner in all Spain which we have not ferreted out; those who are
always on the scamper see a great deal of the country. We are
perfect connoisseurs in landscape, and affect Salvator Rosa's
rugged scenery. There we graze in peace and freedom, secure from
the brutality of justice. Don Alphonso expressed himself very
much obliged to them for their kind invitation; and finding
neither money in his purse, nor contrivance to procure it in his
pericranium, made up his mind at once not to stand upon punctilio
with morality. I too was led into a looser course than agreed
with my rigid principles, by a growing friendship for this young
man, whom I could not find in my heart to abandon in so perilous
an enterprise.

We all four agreed to set off in a body, and never to part
company. The question was put whether we should sound a retreat
on the instant, or first give a peremptory summons to a flagon of
excellent wine, which brother Anthony had invested by regular
approaches at Cuenзa the day before; but Raphael, a more
experienced general than any of us, represented that the first
thing to be done was to render our own camp impregnable, for
which purpose he proposed that we should march all night, to gain
a very thick wood between Villardesa and Almodabar, where we
should halt, as in a friendly country, and recruit after the
fatigues of the campaign. These general orders were approved of
in council. Our lay hermits then went about packing up their
baggage and provisions, which were swung in two bundles across
the back of Don Alphonso's horse. We were not long in our
preparations, after which we sheered off from the hermitage,
leaving a rich booty to legal rapine in the saintly paraphernalia
of the two hermits; including a white beard and a red one, two
rickety bedsteads, a table without a leg, a chest without a
bottom, two chairs without any seats, and an unmutilated image of
St Pacomo.

Our march was continued the whole night, and we began to chafe
and feel other inconveniences, when at daybreak we hailed the
wood where our toils were to end. Sailors after a long voyage
work the ship with double alacrity at sight of their native land.
So it was with us, we pushed forward and got to our journey's end
by sunrise. Dashing into the thickest of the wood, we pitched
upon a retired and pleasant spot, where the turf was circled in
by tall and branching oaks, whose gigantic limbs, interwoven over
our heads, formed a natural vault, not to be penetrated even by
noon-day heat. We took the bridle off the horse to let him feed
after he was unloaded. Then down we sat, pulling out of brother
Anthony's wallet some large pieces of bread and good substantial
slices of roast meat, at which we began pegging with all possible
pertinacity. Nevertheless, let our appetites be as obstinate as
they might, we every now and then suspended the fray to spar a
little with the flagon, which returned our blows till it made us
reel again.

About the end of the conflict, Don Raphael said to Don Alphonso -
- My brave comrade, after the confidence you have reposed in me,
it is but fair that in my turn I should recount the history of my
life to you with the same sincerity. You will do me a great
favour, answered the young man; and an equal one to me, chimed in
I. My curiosity is all alive to know your adventures, for
doubtless they must afford much matter of useful speculation. You
may rest assured of that, replied Don Raphael; and I mean to
leave behind me a history of my own times. The composition shall
be the amusement of my old age, for I am as yet in the prime of
life, and mean to furnish in propriв personв many new hints for
my commonplace-book. But we are all weary, let us recruit with
some hours of sleep. While we three lie down, Ambrose shall keep
watch for fear of a surprise, and shall then take a nap in his
turn. For though, to all appearance, we are here in perfect
safety, it is always good to keep a sentry at the out-posts.
After this precaution he stretched himself along upon the grass.
Don Alphonso did the same. I followed their example, and Lamela
performed the office of a scout.

Don Alphonso, so far from getting any rest, was incessantly
brooding over his misfortunes, and I could not get a wink of
sleep. As for Don Raphael, he snored most sonorously. But he
awoke in little more than an hour, when, finding us in a
listening mood, he said to Lamela -- My friend Ambrose, you may
now yield to the gentle influence of Morpheus. No, no, answered
Lamela, my sleepy fit is over; and though I know all the passages
of your life by rote, they are so instructive to the
practitioners of our art and mystery, that I do not care how
often I hear the tale over again. Without further preface, Don
Raphael began the narrative of his adventures in these terms.






BOOK THE FIFTH.


CH. I. -- History of Don Raphael.

I MADE my entrance on the stage of life at Madrid, where my
mother was an actress, famous for dramatic, and infamous for her
intriguing talents. Her name was Lucinda. As for my father, every
man must have one; but my arithmetic is too scanty to determine
the number of mine. It might indeed be a matter of history, that
such or such a man of fashion was dangling after my mother at the
epoch of my arrival in this system; but then, that mere fact
would by no means warrant a deduction that any individual gallant
of the mother must therefore be the father of the child. A lady,
so eminent as she was in so notorious and wholesale a profession,
must have many strings to her bow; where her blandishments are
most publicly lavished, her favours are most sparingly bestowed:
there is a show article or two for public exhibition, but her
everyday wares are cheap, and hackneyed to the meanest purchaser.

There is nothing like taking scandal by the beard, and treating
the opinion of the world with heroic indifference. Lucinda,
instead of cooping me up in a garret at home, made no scruple
about owning her little bastard, but took me in her hand to the
theatre with a modest assurance, regardless how the tongue of
rumour might babble at her expense, or how the laugh of malice
might peal at my unlucky appearance. In short, I was her pet, and
came in for the caresses of all the men who frequented the house.
One would have sworn that nature pleaded in my favour, and
inspired each of them with a father's pride in the brat they had
clubbed for. The twelve first years of my life were suffered to
waste away in all kinds of frivolous amusements. Scarcely did
they teach me to read and write. Still less was it thought of any
consequence to initiate me in the principles of my religion. To
dance, to sing, to play on the guitar, was the sum total of my
early attainments. With these gifts and graces for my only
acquisitions, the Marquis of Leganez asked for me to be about his
only son, who was nearly of my own age. Lucinda gave her consent
without reluctance, and it was then that I began to mind a little
what I was about. Young Leganez could not reproach me with my
ignorance, his little lordship was not cast in a scientific
mould, for he scarcely knew a letter of his alphabet, though he
had been under private tuition for fifteen months. None of his
masters could make anything of him, patience was never formed to
engage in so unequal a match. To be sure, they were expressly
forbid to exercise any severity on his noble carcass, their
orders were to teach, not to torture him; and this tender
precaution, acting on a subject of insufferably untoward
dispositions, was the means of throwing to the dogs all the
mental physic they poured in; he would none of it.

But the verb-grinder engendered in his noddle a most ingenious
device, by which to keep this troublesome young lordling in awe,
without trenching on his foolish father's injunctions. This
scheme was no other than to flog me when ever that scape-grace
Leganez had incurred the penalty of the rod, and this vicarious
execution was inflicted with the utmost rigour. My consent to the
transfer had never been asked, and there was nothing in the act
itself to recommend it; so that my only chance was to run away,
and appeal to my mother against so arbitrary a discipline.
However her maternal feelings might inwardly revolt, no trace of
woman's weakness could be detected in her manner of receiving my
complaint. The Leganez connection was too important to be lost
for a few whippings; and away went she, dragging her culprit into
the presence of his tormentor, who by this act of hers became
master of broom field. Experience had convinced him that the
success of his invention corresponded with its felicity. He
therefore went on improving the mind and manners of the little
grandee at the expense of my skin. Remorse for his delinquencies
was to be excited only by sympathy; so that whenever it became
necessary to make a bloody example, my seat of vengeance was
firked most unmercifully. The running account between young
Leganez and me was all on one side, and scarcely a day passed but
he sinned on tick and suffered by attorney. By the nearest
calculation of whole numbers, there went somewhere about a
hundred cuts to teach him each single letter of the alphabet; so
that if you multiply 100 by 24 for stupidity, and add an 0 to the
amount for moral offences, you will have the sum total of the
belabouring that his education cost me.

This thick and threefold companionship with birch was not the
only rub; my path through this family was more beset with thorns
than sweetened by flowers. As my birth and connections were no
secret, the whole of the establishment, to the very refuse of the
household, the stable-boys and scullions, twitted me with my
shameful origin. This stuck so terribly in my throat that I made
my escape once more, but not without borrowing my tutor's ready
money, amounting to upwards of a hundred and fifty ducats, for an
indefinite period, and without interest. Thus was the account
settled between us, since he had made a property of my hide for a
scarecrow, it was but fair that I should have a finger in the
earnings of his arm. For a first attempt at thieving both the
plan and execution were hopeful. A hue and cry was raised for two
days, it was hot while it lasted, but I lay snug, and they missed
me. Madrid was no longer a fit hiding-place, so I took to cover
in Toledo, and the hounds were thrown out.

I was just then entering into my fifteenth year. What a happy
fellow, at such an early age, to shape my own conduct and be in a
condition of forming a set of morals for myself! I soon scraped
acquaintance with some pleasant youths, who rescued me from the
dominion of prejudice, and shared liberally with me in the sin of
spending what was not my own. By degrees I rose in society and
leagued myself with a set of professional sharpers, who found me
so fine a subject to work upon, that a short time, with plenty of
practice, put me in possession of all the most desperate jobs. At
the expiration of five years, an itch for travelling laid hold of
me. I therefore took leave of my comrades and got as far as
Alcantara, wishing to commence my peregrinations with the
province of Estremadura. In this my first excursion, an
opportunity of keeping in my hand occurred; and I was too
diligent a practitioner to let it escape. As I was on foot, and
loaded moreover with a pretty heavy knapsack, I halted from time
to time to avail myself of the shade, and recruit a little under
the trees which lined the highway. At one of these baits I picked
up two young gentlemen, who were chatting at their ease upon the
grass, and inhaling the freshness of the breeze. My mode of
accosting them was suited to the occasion; nor did its
familiarity seem to be taken in ill part. The eldest could not be
more than fifteen -- a couple of as practicable greenhorns as
ever fell into the hands of a man of genius. Courteous stranger,
said the youngest, we are the Sons of two rich citizens at
Placentia. Longing extremely to see the kingdom of Portugal, we
have each of us begged a hundred pistoles from our friends, and
are setting out to satisfy our curiosity. Travelling on foot as
we do, we shall be able to get a good way with that supply, shall
we not? What do you think of it? If I had as much, answered I,
they might take me who could catch me. I would scour over the
four known quarters of the globe, and then set out on new
discoveries. Fire and fury! Two hundred pistoles! Why it is an
entail for a dukedom! You ought to lay by out of the interest. If
it is agreeable to you, gentlemen, I will club with you as far as
Almeria, whither I am going to take possession of an estate left
me by an uncle who was settled there for twenty years or upwards.

My young cockneys testified at once the pleasure they should
derive from my company. Whereupon, when we were all three a
little refreshed, we trudged on towards Alcantara, where we
arrived early in the afternoon. No inn but the best was fit to
hold such guests. We asked for a room, and were shown into one
where there was a press with a good strong lock upon it. Supper
was ordered without delay; but as some time was required to get
it ready, I proposed to my travelling companions a gentle saunter
about the town. The party seemed perfectly agreeable. We locked
up our knapsacks in the press, the key of which one of the
citizens put in his pocket, and out sallied we from the inn. The
churches were the best lions we met with in our way; and while we
were gaping about the principal, I pretended to have recollected
on a sudden some very urgent business. Gentlemen, said I to my
companions, it has just come across me that a good man of Toledo
gave me a commission to say two words on his behalf to a merchant
who lives hard by this church. Have the goodness to wait for me
here, I will be back in a moment. With this excuse, I went off
like a shot, in the direction of our inn. The press was my point
of attack -- I forced the lock, ransacked the baggage of my young
citizens, and laid a sacrilegious hand on their pistoles. Poor
youths! How they were to pay their reckoning, it was not for me
to presume even to guess, for most assuredly I stripped them of
all the natural means. After this feat, I decamped as
expeditiously as my legs could carry me from the town, and took
the direction of Merida, without caring a curse what became of
the young brood I had plucked.

Such a windfall as this placed me in a condition of travelling
merrily. Though in the very blush of youth, a certain forecast
was not wanting to carry me discreetly through the world, and
keep my head above water. It must be admitted without question,
that I was a youth of forward parts for my age, and unfettered by
the prejudices of innocence. I determined to buy a mule, and
cheapened one at the first market town. My knapsack was
metamorphosed into a portmanteau, and by degrees I began to put
on the man of consequence. On the third day a man came across me
singing vespers with lungs like a pair of bellows on the highway.
By his air, he seemed to be a musician of the church
establishment, and I accosted him accordingly. Well done, my holy
howler of the hallelujahs! You sing your penitential ditties at a
good jovial pitch. To all appearance you sol-fa with your whole
heart and soul. Good sir, replied he, I belong, with your good
leave, to the musical department of the Catholic church: and it
is my common practice to keep my devotion and my wind in play by
the rehearsal of an anthem or two as I travel along the road.

With this disposition to be sociable, we soon got into
conversation. It was clear to me that I had fallen in with a
character not to be despised in point of shrewdness, nor
indisposed to society and merriment. He was four or five-and-
twenty. My companion being on foot, I slackened my pace, for the
pleasure of chatting with him. Among other things, we talked
about Toledo. I am perfectly well acquainted with that city, said
the brazen-lunged torturer of anthems. It was my residence for a
considerable time, and my connections there are not altogether
contemptible. And in what part of the town, interrupted I, did
you reside? In the New Street, was his answer. I was hand in
glove with Don Vincent de Buena Garra, Don Matthias de Cordello,
and two or three other gentlemen of very considerable fashion. We
lived together; took our meals at the same mess, and, in short,
were scarcely ever asunder. It was a charming society! This
avowal was no small surprise to me, for it is to be understood,
that the gentlemen whose names he cited with so pompous an air
were the very sharpers with whom I had been affiliated at Toledo.
Why, thou degenerate vicar choral! exclaimed I, these fine blades
of whom thou hast been boasting are among the number of my
acquaintance also, for I too have lived with them in the New
Street; we were hand in glove, took our meals at the same mess,
and, in short, were scarcely ever asunder. You are a wag! replied
he, with a knowing wink, that is to say, you got into the gang
three years ago, when I left it. My motive for quitting such a
worshipful fraternity, resumed I, was an itch for travelling. I
mean to make the tour of Spain. A little more knowledge of the
world will make me quite another thing. Doubtless, said he, there
is no possible way but travelling to rub off the rust, or bring
wit, talent, and address to perfection. It is for the self-same
reason that I too turned my back upon Toledo, though the time
glided away there very agreeably. But thanks to a kind
providence, which has yoked me with a labourer in my own
vineyard, when I least expected it. Let us join our forces, let
us travel the same road, let us make a joint-stock out of our
neighbours' purses, let us rob, let us cheat, let us avail
ourselves of every opportunity that may offer of exemplifying our
theory, and improving our practice, in the noble art on which our
skill is employed.

The proposal was made in so candid a spirit, so like a citizen of
the world, untainted with the selfishness of your honest men,
that I closed in with it at once. My confidence was surrendered
at the first summons to the frankness with which he volunteered
his own. We spoke our free hearts each to the other. I dilated
all my pilgrimage, and he spake of most disastrous chances, of
moving accidents through which he had passed even from his boyish
days to this very moment of his ripe and rampant roguery. It
appeared that he was on his way from Portalegre, whence he had
been obliged to decamp with the utmost expedition on account of a
little swindling transaction in which his luck happened not to
keep pace with his ingenuity. The habit he wore was
sacrilegiously adopted as a cloak to his person and real
character, since he thought it safest to be near the church,
however far from God. Thus did we two share all our counsel, and
pledge our brother's vows, till we grew together like a double
cherry, and determined, with two seeming bodies but one heart, to
incorporate our voices and minds in some master-stroke at Merida.
If it took, well and good; if not, we had only to cut and run.
From this moment, community of goods, that pure and simple
feature of patriarchal life, was enacted as a law between us.
Moralez, it is true, for that was my fellow-traveller's name, did
not find himself in the most splendid condition possible. His
funds were limited to five or six ducats, with a few little
articles in a bag. I therefore was the monied man of the firm;
but then there was brass in his forehead for an inexhaustible
coinage, and the seeming of a saint when he played the devil
most. So on we journeyed on the ride-and-tie principle, and
arrived in humble cavalcade at Merida.

We put up at an inn near the skirts of the town, where my comrade
changed his dress. When he had rigged himself in layman's attire,
we took a turn up and down, to reconnoitre the ground, and see if
we could pick out some opportunity of labouring in our vocation.
Had it been our good fortune to have lived before Homer, that old
apologist for sharping by wholesale would have dignified our
excursion with a simile.

Not half so keen, fierce vultures of the chase
Stoop from the mountains on the feathered race, &c.

To descend into plain prose, we were ruminating on the chapter of
accidents, and hammering out some theme for the employment of our
industry, when we espied a grey-headed old gentleman in the
street, sword in hand, defending himself against three men who
were thrusting at him with all their might and main. The
unfairness of the match was what stuck in my throat; so that
flying, with the spirit of a prize-fighter, to see fair play, I
made common cause with the old man. Moralez followed up my blows.
We proved ourselves match for the three assailants, and put them
completely to the rout.

Our rescued friend was profuse in his acknowledgments. We are in
rapture, said I, at our good luck in being here so seasonably for
your assistance: but let us at least know to whom we have been so
fortunate as to be serviceable; and what inducement those three
men could possibly have for their murderous attempt. Gentlemen
replied he, my obligations are too great to hesitate about
satisfying your curiosity; my name is Jerome de Moyadas, a
gentleman of this town, living on my means. One of these cut-
throat rascals, from whom you have rescued me, professes to be in
love with my daughter. He asked her of me in marriage within
these few days; and for want of gaining my consent in a quiet
way, has just attempted to force himself into my daughter's good
graces, by sending me into the other world. And may we take the
liberty, rejoined I, of inquiring farther, why you were so
obdurate to the proposals of this enamoured swain? I will explain
the whole to you at once, said he. I had a brother, a merchant in
this town; his name was Austin. Two months ago he happened to be
at Calatrava, and took up his abode with his correspondent, Juan
Velez de la Membrilla. They got to be as loving as turtles; and
my brother, to clench the connection, engaged my daughter
Florence to his good friend's son, not doubting but he had
influence enough with me to redeem his pledge when he returned to
Merida. Accordingly, he no sooner opened himself on the subject
than I consented out of pure fraternal affection. He sent
Florence's picture to Calatrava; but, alas! he did not live to
put the finishing hand to his own work. We laid him with his
forefathers three weeks ago! On his death-bed, he besought me not
to dispose of my girl but in favour of his correspondent's son. I
satisfied his mind on that point; and this is the reason why I
have refused Florence to the suitor by whom I was assaulted,
though the match would have been a very desirable one. But my
word is my idol; and we are in daily expectation of Juan Velez de
la Membrilla's heir, who is to be my son-in-law, though I know no
more of him, nor of his father neither, than if they were just
imported from an undiscovered island. But I beg pardon; this is
an old man's garrulity. Yet you yourselves led me into the
scrape.

This tale did I swallow with a greedy ear; and pouncing at once
upon a part to play, which my fruitful imagination suggested, I
put on an air of inordinate surprise, and ventured at all hazards
to lift my eyes upward to a purer region. Then turning to my
father-in-law, with an expression of feeling which nothing but
hypocrisy could personate: Ah! Signor de Moyadas, is it possible
that, on my arrival at Merida, I should enjoy the heartfelt
triumph of rescuing from foul assassination the honoured parent
of my peerless love? This exclamation produced all the
astonishment it was levelled to excite in the old citizen. Even
Moralez himself stared like an honest man, and shewed by his face
that there was a degree of impudence to which his conceptions had
not hitherto risen. What! do not my ears deceive me? exclaimed
the old gentleman. And are you really the son of my brother's
correspondent? Really and truly, Signor Jerome de Moyadas,
rejoined I with impregnable effrontery, and a hug round his neck
that had nearly sent him after his brother. Behold the selected
mortal of his species, to whose arms the adorable Florence is
devoted! But these nuptial anticipations, transporting as they
are, must yield to the anguish of my soul for the demise of their
founder. Poor Austin! He is gone, and we must all follow! I
should be ingratitude personified, if my heart was not lacerated
and rent by the death of a man to whom I owe all my hopes of
bliss. At the term of this period, I squeezed good Jerome's
wezand once more, and drew the back of my hand across my eyes, to
wipe away the tears it had not been convenient to shed. Moralez,
who by this time had conned over the pretty pickings to be made
out of this juggle, was not wanting to play his underpart. He
passed himself off for my servant, and improved upon his master
in lamentation for the untimely death of Signor Austin. My
honoured master Jerome, exclaimed he, what a loss have you
sustained, since your brother is no more! He was such an honest
man. Honest men are not to be met with every day. A superfine
sample of commerce! A dealer in friendship without a percentage!
A dealer in merchandise without an underhand advantage! A dealer
who dealt as dealers very seldom do deal!

We had our hands to play against a man who was a novice at the
game. Simple and cullible, so far from smelling out the rat, he
took his stink for a nosegay. And why, said he, did you not come
straight to my house? It was not friendly to put up at an inn. On
the footing we are likely to be upon, there should be none of
those punctilios. Sir, said Moralez, helping me out of the
scrape, my master is a little too much given to stand upon
ceremony. Though to be sure, in the present instance, he is in
some degree excusable for declining to appear before in this
uncouth trim. We have been robbed upon the road, and have lost
all our travelling equipage. My lad, interrupted I, has let the
cat out of the bag, Signor de Moyadas. This unlucky accident has
prevented me from paying my respects sooner. True love is
diffident; nor could I venture in this garb into the presence of
a mistress who was unacquainted with my person. I was therefore
waiting the return of a servant whom I have sent to Calatrava.
Such a trifle, rejoined the old man, must not deprive us of your
company; and I insist upon it, that you make my house your home
from this very moment.

With such sort of importunity, he forced me into his family: but
as we were on our way, the pretended robbery was a natural topic
of conversation; and I should have made light of my baggage,
though the loss was very considerable, had not Florence's picture
unluckily formed a part of the booty! The old codger chuckled at
that, and observed, that such a loss was easily repaired: the
original was worth five hundred per cent. more than the copy. To
make me amends, as soon as we got home, he called his daughter, a
girl of not more than sixteen, with a person to have reclaimed a
libertine, if beauty ever possessed that power except in romance.
You behold, said he, the bale of goods my late brother has
consigned to you. Oh! my good sir, exclaimed I in an impassioned
tone, words are not wanting to assure me that this must be the
lovely Florence: those bewitching features are engraven on my
memory, their impression is indelible on my heart. If the
portrait I have lost, the mere outline of these embodied charms,
could kindle passion by its cold and lifeless likeness, judge
what must be my agitation, my transport at this moment. Such
language is too flattering to be sincere, said Florence; nor am I
so weak and vain as to be persuaded that my merits warrant it.
That is right! interchange your fine speeches, my children! This
was a good-natured encouragement from the father, who at once
left me alone with his daughter, and taking Moralez aside, said
to him; My friend, those who made so free with your baggage,
doubtless did not stand upon any ceremony with your money. Very
true, sir, answered my colleague; an overpowering band of robbers
poured down upon us near Castil-Blazo, and left us not a rag but
what we carry on our backs: but we are in momentary expectation
of receiving bills of exchange, and then we shall appear once
more like ourselves.

While you are waiting for your bills of exchange, replied the old
man, taking a purse out of his pocket, here are a hundred
pistoles with which you may do as you please. Oh, sir! rejoined
Moralez, as if he were shocked, my master will never take them.
You do not know him. Heaven and earth! he is a man of the nicest
scruples in money matters. Not one of your shabby fellows, always
spunging upon his friends, and ready to take up money wherever he
can get it! Running in debt is ratsbane to him. If he is to beg
his bread or go into an hospital, why there is an end of it! but
as for borrowing, he will never be reduced to that. So much the
better! said the good burgess: I value him the more for his
independence. Running in debt is a mean thing; it ought to be
ratsbane to him and everybody else. Your people of quality, to be
sure, may plead prescription in their favour; there is a sort of
privileged swindling, not incompatible with high honour, in high
life. If tradesmen were to be paid, they would be too nearly on a
level with their employers. But as your master has such upright
principles, heaven forbid they should be violated in this house!
Since any offer of pecuniary assistance would hurt his feelings,
we must say no more about it. As the point seemed to be settled,
the purse was for steering its course back again into the pocket;
but my provident partner laid hold of Signor de Moyadas by the
arm, and delayed the convoy. Stay, sir, said he, whatever
aversion my master may have to borrowing on a general principle,
and considered as borrowing, yet there is a light in which, with
good management, he may be brought to look kindly on your hundred
pistoles. In fact, it is only in a mercantile point of view, as
an affair of debtor and creditor between strangers, that he holds
this formal doctrine; but he is free and easy enough where he is
on a family footing. Why, there is his own father! It is only ask
and have; and he does ask and have accordingly. Now you are going
to be a second father to him, and are fairly entitled to be put
on the same confidential footing. He is a young man of nice
discrimination, and will doubtless think you entitled to the
compliment.

By thus shifting his ground, Moralez got possession of the old
gentleman's purse. As for the girl and myself, we were engaged in
a little agreeable flirting; but were soon joined by our honoured
parent, who interrupted our tкte-а-tкte. He told Florence how
much he was obliged to me, and expressed his gratitude to myself,
in terms which left no doubt of our being a very happy family. I
made the most of so favourable a disposition, by telling the good
man, that if he would bestow on me an acknowledgment the nearest
to my heart, he must hasten my marriage with his daughter. My
eagerness was not taken amiss. He assured me, that in three days
at latest I should be a happy bridegroom, and that instead of six
thousands ducats, the fortune he had promised to give my wife, he
would make it up ten, as a substantial proof how deeply he felt
himself indebted to me for the service I had rendered him.

Here we were, therefore, quite at home with our good friend
Jerome de Moyadas, sumptuously entertained, and catching every
now and then a vista vision of ten thousand ducats, with which we
proposed to march off abruptly from Merida. Our transports,
however, were not without their alloy. It was by no means
improbable that within three days the bonв fide son of Juan Velez
de la Membrilla might come and interrupt our sport. This fear had
for its foundation more than the weakness of our nerves. On the
very next morning, a sort of clodpole, with a portmanteau across
his shoulders, knocked at the door of Florence's father. I was
not at home at the time, but my colleague had to bear the brunt
of it. Sir, said the rustic to our sagacious friend, I belong to
the young gentleman at Calatrava who is to be your son-in-law --
to Signor de la Membrilla. We have both just come off our
journey: he will be here in an instant, and sent me forward to
prepare you for his arrival. Hardly had these unaccountable
tidings been announced, when the master appeared in person; which
stretched the old fellow's blinkers into a stare, and put Moralez
a little to the blush.

Young Pedro was what we call a tall fellow of his inches. He
began at once paying his compliments to the master of the house;
but the good man did not give him time to finish his speech; and
turning towards my partner in iniquity, asked what was the
meaning of all this. Hereupon Moralez, whose power of face was
not to be exceeded by any human impudence, boldly asserted our
identity, and said to the old gentleman -- Sir, these two men
here before you belong to the gang which pillaged us on the
highway. I have a perfect recollection of their features; and in
particular could swear to him who has the effrontery to call
himself the son of Signor Juan Velez de la Membrilla. The old
citizen gulped down the lies of Moralez like nectar, and told the
intruders, on the supposition of their being the impostors --
Gentlemen, you are come the day after the fair; the trick was a
very good one, but it will not pass; the enemy has taken the
ground before you. Pedro de la Membrilla has been under this roof
since yesterday. Have all your wits about you, answered the young
man from Calatrava; you are nursing a viper in your bosom. Be
assured that Juan Velez de la Membrilla has neither chick nor
child but myself. And what relation is the hangman to you?
replied the old dupe: you are better known than liked in this
house. Can you look this young man in the face? or can you deny
that you robbed his master? If I were anywhere but under your
roof, rejoined Pedro in a rage, I would punish the insolence of
this scoundrel who fancies to pass me off for a highwayman. He is
indebted for his safety to your presence, which puts a curb upon
my choler. Good sir, pursued he, you are grossly imposed on. I am
the favoured youth to whom your brother Austin has promised your
daughter. Is it your pleasure for me to produce the whole
correspondence with my father on the subject of the impending
match? Will you be satisfied with Florence's picture sent me by
him as a present a little while before his death?

No, put in the old burgess crustily; the picture will work just
as strongly on my conviction as the letters. I am perfectly aware
by what chance they all fell into your hands; and if you will
take a stupid fellow's advice, Merida will soon be rid of such
rubbish. A quick march may save you a trouncing. This is beyond
all bearing, screamed out the young royster with an overwhelming
vehemence. My name shall never be stolen from me, and assumed by
a common cheat with impunity; neither shall my person be
confounded with that of a free-booter. There are those in this
town who can identify me: they are forth coming, and shall expose
the fallacy by which you are prejudiced against me. With this
assurance he withdrew, attended by his servant, and Moralez kept
possession of the field. The adventure had even the effect of
determining Jerome de Moyadas to fix the wedding for the very
time being. Accordingly he went his way, for the purpose of
giving the necessary orders for the celebration.

Though my colleague in knavery was well enough pleased to see
Florence's father in a humour so pat for our purposes, he was not
without certain scruples of conscience about our safety. It was
to be feared, lest the probable proceedings of Pedro might be
followed up by awkward consequences; so that he waited
impatiently for my arrival, to make me acquainted with what had
occur red. I found him over head and ears in a brown study. What
is the matter, my friend? said I, seemingly there is something
upon your mind. Indeed there is; and something that will be
minded, answered he. At the same time he let me into the affair.
Now you may judge, added he after a pause, whether we have not
some food for reflection. It is your ill star, rash contriver,
which has thrown us into this perplexity. The idea, it must he
confessed, was full of fire and ingenuity; had it answered in the
application, your renown would have been emblazoned in the
chronicles of our fraternity; but according to present
appearances, the run of luck is against us, and my counsels
incline to a prudent avoidance of all explanations, by quietly
sneaking off with the market-penny we have made of the silly old
fellow's credulity.

Master Moralez, replied I to this desponding speech, you give way
to difficulties with more haste than good speed. Such
pusillanimity does but little honour to Don Matthias de Cordel,
and the other gallant blades with whom you were affiliated at
Toledo. After serving a campaign under such experienced generals,
it is not soldierly to shrink from the perils of the field. For
my part, I am resolved to fight the battles of these heroes over
again, or, in more vulgar phrase, to prove myself a chip from the
old blocks. The precipice which makes your head turn giddy only
stiffens my sinews to surmount the toils of the way, and push
forward to the end of our career. If you arrive at your journey's
end in a whole skin, said my companion, I will myself be your
biographer, and set your fame far above all the parallels of
Plutarch.

Just as Moralez was finishing this learned allusion, Jerome de
Moyadas came in. You shall be my son-in-law this very evening,
said he. Your servant must have given you an account of what has
just passed. What say you to the impudence of the scoundrel who
wanted to make me believe that he was the son of my brother's
correspondent? Honoured sir, answered I, with a melancholy air,
and in a tone of voice the most insinuating that ever cajoled the
easy faith of a dotard, I feel within me that it is not in my
nature to carry on an imposition without betraying it in my
countenance. It now becomes necessary to make you a sincere
confession. I am not the son of Juan Velez de la Membrilla. What
is it you tell me? interrupted the old man, out of breath with
surprise, and out of his wits with apprehension. So then! you are
not the young man to whom my brother. . . . . For pity's sake,
sir, interrupted I in my turn, condescend to give me a hearing
patiently to the end of my story. For these eight days have I
doted to distraction on your daughter; and this dotage, this
distraction, has riveted me to Merida. Yesterday, after having
rescued you from your danger, I was making up my mind to ask her
of you in marriage; but you gave a check to my passion and put a
tie upon my tongue, by the intelligence that she was destined for
another. You told me that your brother, on his death-bed,
enjoined you to give her to Pedro de la Membrilla; that your word
was pledged, and that you were the sworn vassal and bondman of
your veracity. These circumstances, it must be owned, were
overwhelming in the extreme; and my romantic passion, at the last
gasp of its despair, gained breath by the stratagem with which
the god of love inspired me. I must at the same time declare that
a trick is at the best but a mean thing, and, however sanctified
by the motive, my conscience recoiled at the delusion. Yet I
could not but think that my pardon would be granted on the
discovery, when it should come out that I was an Italian prince
travelling through this country as a private gentle man. My
father reigns supreme over a nest of inaccessible valleys, lying
between Switzerland, the Milanese, and Savoy. It could not but
occur to me that you would be agreeably surprised when I should
unfold to you my birth, and having married Florence under my
fictitious character, should announce to her the rank she had
attained, with all the rapture of an enamoured husband, and all
the stage effect of a hero in tragedy or romance. But heaven,
pursued I, with an hypocritical softening down of my accents, has
visited my sins by cutting me off from such a perennial stream of
joy. Pedro de la Membrilla was introduced upon the scene; he must
have his name back again, whatever the restitution may cost me.
Your promise binds you hand and foot to fix upon him for your
son-in-law; it is your duty to give him the preference, without
taking my rank and station into the account; without mercy on the
forlorn condition to which you are going to reduce me. To be
sure, it might be said, but then I should say it who ought not to
say it, that your brother had only the authority of an uncle over
your daughter, that you are her father, and that there is more
right and reason in discharging an actual debt of gratitude
towards your preserver, than in being mealy-mouthed about a
verbal promise which would press but lightly on the conscience of
the most scrupulous casuist.

Yes, without doubt, that argument is indisputable, exclaimed
Jerome de Moyadas; and on that ground there can no longer be any
question between you and Pedro de la Membrilla. If my brother
Austin were still living, he would not think it bad morality to
give the preference to a man who has saved my life, nor a bad
speculation to close the bargain with a prince who has not
disdained to court our alliance. It were an absolute suicide on
the part of all my opening prospects; the frantic desperation of
an acknowledged incurable, not to dispose of my daughter so
illustriously, not to solicit your highness's acceptance of her
hand. And yet, sir, resumed I, these things are not to be
determined without due deliberation; look at your own interests
and safety with a microscopic eye, for though the illustrious
channel through which my blood has flowed for ages . . . . You
are scarcely serious, interrupted he, in supposing that I can
hesitate for a moment. No, may it please your highness; it is my
most humble and earnest request that you will deign, on this very
evening, to honour the happy Florence with your hand. Well, then!
said I, be it so; go yourself and be the bearer of the unlooked-
for tidings, announce to her the brilliant career of her exalted
destiny.

While the good citizen was putting his best foot foremost, to
instil into his daughter that she had made the conquest of a
prince, Moralez, who had taken in the whole conversation with
greedy ear, threw himself upon his knees before me, and did
homage in these bantering terms. Most potent, grave, and august
Italian prince, son of a sovereign, supreme over a nest of
inaccessible valleys, lying between Switzerland, the Milanese,
and Savoy, permit me to humble myself at your highness's feet, in
humble acknowledgment of the ecstasy into which you have thrown
me. By the honour of a swindler, you are one of the wonders of
our world. I always thought myself the first man in the line; but
in good truth I doff my bonnet before you, whose genius seems to
supersede the lessons of experience. Then you are no longer
uneasy about the result, said I to my colleague in iniquity. Oh!
as to that, not in the least, answered he. I no longer care a fig
for Master Pedro; let him come as soon as he pleases, we are a
match for him. Here we are, then, Moralez and myself, safe seated
on the saddle, and rising in our stirrups. We even went so far as
to begin settling the course we should pursue with the fortune,
on which we reckoned so securely, that if it had already been in
our pockets, we could not have chuckled more triumphantly over
the proverb of "a bird in the hand." Yet we were not in actual
possession, which is more than legal right: and the sequel of the
adventure proved to us, that manythings fall out between the cup
and the lip.

We very soon saw the young man of Calatrava returning. He was
accompanied by two citizens and by an alguazil, whose dignity was
as much supported by his whiskers, and by the lowering overcast
of his swarthy aspect, as by the weight of his official
character. Florence's father was of the party. Signor de Moyadas,
said Pedro to him, here are three honest people come to answer
for me; they are acquainted with my person, and can tell you who
I am. Yes, undoubtedly, exclaimed the alguazil, I can depose to
the fact. I certify to all those whom it may concern, that you
are known to me: your name is Pedro, and you are the only son of
Juan Valez de la Membrilla: whosoever dares to maintain the
contrary is an impostor. I believe you implicitly, master
alguazil, said the good creature Jerome de Moyadas, rather drily.
Your evidence is gospel to me, as well as that of these fair and
honest tradesmen you have brought with you. I am fully satisfied
that the young gentleman on whose behalf you come is the only son
of my brother's correspondent. But what is that to me? I am no
longer in the humour to give him my daughter, so there is an end
of that.

Oh! then it is quite another matter, said the alguazil. I only
come to your house for the purpose of assuring you that this
young man is no impostor. You have the authority of a parent over
your child, and no one has any right to dictate to you how you
are to marry her, and whether you will or no. Neither do I, on my
part, interrupted Pedro, pretend to lay any force on the
inclinations of Signor de Moyadas; but he will perhaps allow me
to ask him why he has so suddenly changed his resolution. Has he
any reason to be dissatisfied with me? Alas! let me at least
understand, that in losing the sweet hope of becoming his son-in-
law, my promised bliss has not been wrested from me by any
misconduct of my own. I have no complaint to make of you,
answered the old man; nay, I will even tell you more; it is with
sincere sorrow that I find myself under the necessity of breaking
my word with you, and I heartily beseech you to forgive me for
having done so. I am persuaded that you are too generous to bear
me any ill-will for having thrown the balance into the scale of a
rival, who has saved my life. You see him here, pursued he,
introducing my noble self, this is the illustrious personage who
threw round me the shield of his protection in my great peril:
and, the better still to apologize for my seemingly harsh
treatment of yourself, you are to know that he is an Italian
prince.

At these last words, Pedro was dumb-founded, and looked as if he
could not help it. The two tradesmen opened their eyes as wide as
they could stare, with surprise at finding themselves for the
first time in princely society. But the alguazil, in the habit of
looking at things with the cross eye of suspicion, divined most
perspicuously that this marvellous adventure must be a complete
humbug; and the verification of the prophecy was calculated to
put money into the pocket of the prophet. He therefore conned
over my countenance with a very inquisitive regard; but as my
features, which were new to justice, threw him out most cruelly
from hunting down the game he was in chase of, he had no
alternative but to try his luck on my companion. Unfortunately
for my highness of the inaccessible valleys, he knew again the
hang-dog features of Moralez; and recollecting to have seen him
within the purlieus of a gaol, Ay, ay! exclaimed he, this is one
of my established customers. This gentleman is a particular
acquaintance of mine, and you may take his character from me for
one of the rankest rascals within the kingdoms and principalities
of Spain. Softly, look before you leap, most adventurous
alguazil, said Jerome de Moyadas; this lad, of whom you draw so
unfavourable a picture, is in the travelling retinue of a prince.
So much the better, retorted the alguazil; a man would not desire
clearer evidence on which to bring in his verdict. If we can but
hang the servant, we shall soon send the master to the devil. The
case is as undeniable as a feed counsel's plea; these pleasant
sparks are a couple of fortune-hunters, who have laid their heads
together to take you in. I am an old hound upon this scent; so
that, by way of proof presumptive that these merry vagabonds are
within the contemplation of the law in that case provided, I
shall lodge them where they will be well taken care of. They will
have plenty of time for meditation under the chastising
philosophy of a turnkey; or should confinement fail to mend their
morals, we have a sort of tangible discipline, which insinuates
reformation by the inlet of a smarting hide. Stop there, and
bethink you in good time, master officer, rejoined the old
gentleman; we must not draw the cord tighter than it will bear.
You never make any bones, you hangers-on of the law, about
hurting the feelings of better men than yourselves. May not this
servant be a common cheat, without his master being a swindler?
Princes are persons of honour as a matter of course; yet the
retainers to a court are inordinate rascals; it requires no
conjurer to find that out. Are you playing into the hands of your
deluders, with your princes? interrupted the alguazil. This new
manufacturer of false pretences is a proficient, take my word for
it; but I shall quench his zeal in the service, and gravel the
ingenuity of his partner, with a whereas and a commitment in due
form. The scouts of justice are all round the door, who will
worry their game every inch of the chase, if they do not suffer
themselves to be taken quietly on their form. So come along, may
it please your serene highness, let us proceed to our
destination.

This upshot of the business was a death-blow to me, as well as to
Moralez; and our confusion did but infuse doubts into the mind of
Jerome de Moyadas, or rather burned, sunk, and destroyed us in
his esteem. He began rather to think, not without reason, that we
had some little design to impose on his credulity. Nevertheless
he acted on this occasion in the spirit of a man of honour and a
gentleman. My good friend and protector, said he to the alguazil,
your conjectures may be without foundation; on the other hand,
they may turn out to have too much truth in them. Whichever of
these alternatives may be the fact, let us not look too curiously
into their characters. They are both young, and have time enough
for amendment if they want it; let them go their ways, and
withdraw whithersoever it may best please them. Make no
opposition, I beseech you, to their safe egress; it is a favour
which you may consider as done to me, and my motive for asking it
is to acquit myself of my debt to them. If my heart was not too
soft for my profession, answered the alguazil, I should lodge
these pretty gentlemen in limbo, in defiance of all your
pleadings in their favour; but your eloquence and my
susceptibility have relaxed the stern demeanour of justice for
this evening. Let them, however, leave town on the spur of the
occasion: for if I come across them to-morrow, and there is any
faith in an alguazil, they shall see such sport as will be no
sport to them.

When it was signified to Moralez and me, culprits as we were,
that we were to be let off scot free, we polished up the brass
upon our foreheads a little. It was time now to bounce and
swagger, and to maintain that we were men of undeniable
respectability; but the alguazil looked askew at us, and muttered
that least said was soonest mended. I do not know how, but those
gentry have a strange knack of curbing our genius; they are
complete lords of the ascendant. Florence and her dowry therefore
were lost to Pedro de la Membrilla by a turn of the dice, and we
may conclude that he was received as the son-in-law of Jerome de
Moyadas. I took to my heels with my companion. We blundered on
the road to Truxillo, with the consolation at our hearts of
having at least pocketed a hundred pistoles by our frolic. An
hour before night-fall we passed through a little village with
the intention of putting up for the evening at the next stage. An
inn of very tolerable appearance for the place attracted our
notice. The landlord and landlady were sitting at the door, on a
long bench such as usually graces a pot-house porch. Our host, a
tall man, withered, and with one foot in the grave, was tinkling
on a cracked guitar to the unbounded emolument of his wife, whose
faculties seemed to hang in rapture on the performance.
Gentlemen, cried out the intrepid tavern-keeper, when he found
that we were not upon the halt, you will do well to stop here;
you may fare worse further off. There is a devil of a three
leagues to the nearest village, and you will find nothing to make
you amends for what you leave behind; you may assure yourselves
of that. Take a word of advice, know when you are well used; I
will treat you with the fat of the land, and charge you at the
lowest rate. There was no resisting such a plea. We came up to
our courteous entertainers, paid them the compliments of course,
and sitting down by their side, the conversation was supported by
all four on the indifferent topics of the day. Our host announced
himself as an officer of the Holy Brotherhood, and his rib was a
fat laughing squab of a woman, withoutward good-nature, but with
an eye to make the most of her commodities.

Our discourse was broken in upon by the arrival of from twelve to
fifteen riders, some mounted on mules, others on horseback,
followed by about thirty sumpter-mules laden with packages. Ah!
what a princely retinue! exclaimed the landlord at the sight of
so much company: where can I put them all? In an instant the
village was crammed full of men and beasts. As luck would have
it, there was near the inn an immense barn, where the sumpter
mules and their packages were secured; the saddle-mules and
horses were taken care of in other places. As for their masters,
they thought less about bespeaking beds than about calling for
the bill of fare, and ordering a good supper. The host and
hostess, with a servant girl whom they kept, were all upon the
alert to make things agreeable. They laid a heavy hand upon all
the fowls in the poultry-yard. These precious roasts, with some
undisguised rabbits, cats in the masquerade of a fricassee, and a
deluging tureen of soup, stinking of cabbage and greasy with
mutton fat, were enough to have given a sickener to the
inveterate stomachs of a regiment.

As for Moralez and myself, we cast a scrutinizing eye on these
troopers, nor were they behindhand in passing their secret
judgments upon us. At last we came together in conversation, and
it was proposed on our part, if they had no objection, that we
should all sup together. They assured us that they should be
extremely happy in our company. Here we are, then, all seated
round the table. There was one among them who seemed to take the
lead; and for whom the rest, though in the main they were on the
most intimate terms with him, thought it necessary on some
occasions to testify their deference. In case of a dispute, this
high gentleman assumed the umpire, he talked in a tone above the
common pitch, going so far sometimes as to contradict in no very
courtly phrase the sentiments of others, who, far from giving him
back his own, were ready to swear to his assertions and crouch
under his rebuke. By accident the discourse turned on Andalusia.
Moralez happening to launch out into the praise of Seville, the
man about whom I have been talking said to him -- My good fellow-
traveller, you are ringing the chimes on the city which gave
birth to me; at least I am a native of the neighbourhood, since
the little town of Mayrena is answerable for my appearance in the
world. I have the same story to tell you, answered my companion.
I am also of Mayrena; and it is scarcely possible but that our
families should be acquainted. Whose son are you? An honest
notary's, replied the stranger, by name Martin Moralez. As fate
will have it, exclaimed my comrade with emotion, the adventure is
very remarkable! You are then my eldest brother, Manuel Moralez?
Exactly so, said the other, and if my senses do not deceive me,
you your very self are my little brother Lewis, whom I left in
the cradle when I turned my back upon my father's house? You are
right in your conjectures, answered my honest colleague. At this
discovery they both got up from table, and almost hugged the
breath out of each other's bodies. At last Signor Manuel said to
the company -- Gentlemen, this circumstance is altogether
marvellous. By mere chance, I have met with a brother and have
been challenged by him, whom I have not seen for more than twenty
years: allow me to introduce him. At once all the travellers, who
had risen from their seats out of curiosity and good manners,
paid their compliments to the younger Moralez, and made him run
the gauntlet through their salutations. When these were over, the
party returned to the table, nor did they think any more of an
adjournment. Bed-time never entered. into their heads. The two
brothers sat next to one another, and talked in a whisper about
their family affairs; the other guests plied the bottle, and made
merry in a louder key.

Lewis had a long conference with Manuel; and afterwards, taking
me aside, said to me: All these troopers belong to the household
of the Count de Montanos, whom the king has very lately appointed
to the vice-regal government of Majorca. They are convoying the
equipage of the viceroy to Alicant, where they are to embark. My
brother, who has risen to be steward to that noble man, proposes
to take me along with him; and on the difficulty I started about
leaving you, he told me that if you would be of the party, he
would procure you a good berth. My dear friend, pursued he, I
advise you not to stand out against this proposal. Let us take
flight together for the island of Majorca. If we find our
quarters pleasant, we will fix there; and if they are otherwise,
we have nothing to do but to return into Spain.

I accepted the proposal with the best grace possible. What a
reinforcement, in the person of young Moralez and myself, to the
household of the count! We took our departure in a body from the
inn, before daybreak. We got to the city of Alicant by long
stages, and there I bought a guitar, and arranged my dress in a
manner suited to my new destination, before we embarked. Nothing
ran in my head but the island of Majorca; and Lewis Moralez was a
new man as well as myself. It should seem as though we had bid
farewell to the rogueries of this wicked world. Yet, not to play
the liar in the ear of so rigorous a confessor as my own
conscience, we had a mind not to pass for villains incarnate, now
that we had got into company that had some pretensions to
decency: and that was the sum total of our honesty. The natural
bent of our genius remained much the same; we were still men of
business, but just now keeping a vacation. In short, we went on
board gallantly and gaily in this lucid interval of innocence,
and had no idea but of landing at Majorca under the especial care
of Neptune and AEolus. Hardly, however, had we cleared the gulf
of Alicant, when a sudden and violent storm arose, enough to have
frightened better men. Now is my opportunity, or never, to speak
of moving accidents by flood; to set the atmosphere on fire, and
give a louder explosion to the thunder-cloud; to compare the
whistling of the winds to the factions of a populace, and the
rolling of the waves to the shock of conflicting hosts; with
other such old-fashioned phraseologies as have been heirlooms of
Parnassus from time immemorial. But it is useless to be poetical
without invention. Suffice it therefore to say, in slang
metaphor, that the storm was a devil of a storm, and obliged us
to stand in for the point of Cabrera. This is a desert island,
with a small fort, at that time garrisoned by an officer and five
or six soldiers. Our reception was hospitable and cordial.

As it was necessary for us to stay there some days, for the
purpose of refitting our sails and rigging, we devised various
kinds of amusements to keep off the foul fiend, melancholy. Every
one did as seemed good in his own eyes: some played at cards,
others diverted themselves in other ways; but as for me, I went
about exploring the island, with such of our gentry as had either
a curiosity or a taste for the picturesque. We were frequently
obliged to clamber from rock to rock; for the face of the country
is rugged, and the soil scanty, presenting a scene difficult of
access, but interesting from its wildness. One day, while we were
speculating on these dry and barren prospects, and extracting a
moral from the vagaries of nature, who can swell into the
fruitful mother and the copious nurse, or shrink into the lean
and loathsome skeleton as she pleases, our sense was all at once
regaled with a most delicious fragrance. We turned as with a
common impulse towards the east, whence the scented gale seemed
to come. To our utter astonishment, we discovered among the rocks
a green plat of considerable dimensions, gay with honeysuckles
more luxuriant and more odorous than even those which thrive so
greatly in the climate of Andalusia. We were not sorry to
approach nearer these delicious shrubs, which were wasting their
sweetness in such unchecked profusion, when it turned out that
they lined the entrance of a very deep cavern. The opening was
wide, and the recess in consequence partially illuminated. We
were determined to explore; and descended by some stone steps
overgrown with flowers on each side, so that it was difficult to
say whether the approach was formed by art or nature. When we had
got down, we saw several little streams winding over a sand, the
yellow lustre of which outrivalled gold. These drew their sources
from the continual distillations of the rock within, and lost
themselves again in the hollows of the ground. The water looked
so clear, that we were tempted to drink of it; and such was its
freshness, that we made a party to return the next day, with some
bottles of generous wine, which we were persuaded would acquire
new zest from the retreat where they were to be quaffed.

It was not without regret that we left so agreeable a place: nor
did we omit, on our return to the fort, boasting among our
comrades of so interesting a discovery. The commander of the
fortress, however, with the warmest professions of friendship,
warned us against going any more to the cavern, with which we
were so much delighted. And why so? said I, is there anything to
be afraid of? Most undoubtedly, answered he. The corsairs of
Algiers and Tripoli sometimes land upon this island, for the
purpose of watering at that spring. One day they surprised two
soldiers of my garrison there, whom they carried into slavery. It
was in vain that the officer assumed a tone of kind dissuasion;
nothing could prevent us from going. We fancied that he meant to
play upon our fears; and the day following I returned to the
cavern with three adventurous blades of our establishment. We
were even fool-hardy enough to leave our fire-arms behind as a
sort of bravado. Young Moralez declined being of the party: the
fort and the gaming-table had more charms for him, as well as for
his brother.

We went down to the bottom of the cave, as on the preceding day,
and set some bottles of the wine we had brought with us to cool
in the rivulets. While we were enjoying them in all the luxury of
elegant conviviality, our wits set in motion by the novelty of
the scene, and the echo reverberating to the music of our
guitars, we espied at the mouth of the cavern several abominable
faces overgrown with whiskers; neither did their turbans and
Turkish dresses render them a whit more amiable in our conceits.
We nevertheless took it into our heads that it was a frolic of
our own party, set on by the commanding officer of the fort, and
that they had disguised themselves for the purpose of playing us
a trick. With this impression on our minds, we set up a horse-
laugh, and allowed a quiet entrance to about ten, without
thinking of making any resistance. In a few moments our eyes were
opened to that fatal error, and we were convinced, in sober
sadness, that it was a corsair at the head of his crew, come to
carry us away. Surrender, you Christian dogs, cried he in most
outlandish Castilian, or prepare for instant death. At the same
time the men who accompanied him levelled their pieces at us, and
our ribs would have been well lined with the contents, if we had
resisted in the least. Slavery seemed the better alternative than
death, so that we delivered our swords to the pirate. He ordered
us to be handcuffed and carried on board his vessel, which was
moored not far off; then, setting sail, he steered with a fair
wind towards Algiers.

Thus were we punished for having neglected the warning given us
by the officer of the garrison. The first thing the corsair did
was to put his hand into our pockets and make free with our
money. No bad windfall for him! The two hundred pistoles from the
greenhorns at Placentia; the hundred which Moralez had received
from Jerome de Moyadas, and which, as ill luck would have it,
were in my custody; all this was swept away without a single
qualm of conscience. My companions too had their purses well
lined; and it was all fish that came to the net. The pirate
seemed to chuckle at so successful a drag; and the scoundrel, not
contented with chousing us of our cash, insulted us with his
infernal Moorish witticisms: but the edge of his satire was not
half so keen as the dire necessity which made us the subject of
it. After a thousand clumsy sarcasms, he called for the bottles
which we had set to cool in the fountain; those irreligious
Mahometans not having scrupled to load their consciences with the
conveyance of the unholy fermentation. The master and his man
pledged one another in many a Christian bumper, and drank to our
better acquaintance with a most provoking mockery.

While this farce was acting, my comrades wore a hanging look,
which testified how pleasantly their thoughts were employed. They
were so much the more out of conceit with their captivity, as
they thought they had drawn a prize in the lottery of human life.
The island of Majorca, with all its luxuries and delights, was a
melancholy contrast with their present situation. For my part, I
had the good sense to take things as I found them. Less put out
of my way by my misfortune than the rest, I joined in
conversation with this transmarine joker, and shewed him that wit
was the common language of Africa and of Europe. He was pleased
with my accommodating spirit. Young man, said he, instead of
groaning and sighing, you do well to arm yourself with patience,
and to fall in with the current of your destiny. Play us a little
air, continued he, observing that I had a guitar by my side; let
us have a specimen of your skill. I complied with his command, as
soon as my arms were loosened from their confinement, and began
to thrum away in a style that drew down the applauses of my
discerning audience. It is true that I had been taught by the
best master in Madrid, and that I played very tolerably for an
amateur upon that instrument. A song was then called for, and my
voice gave equal satisfaction. All the Turks on board testified
by gestures of admiration the delight with which my performance
inspired them; from which circumstance it was but modest to
conclude, that vocal music had made no very extraordinary
progress in their part of the world. The pirate whispered in my
ear, that my slavery should be no disadvantage to me; and that
with my talents I might reckon upon an employment, by which my
lot would be rendered not only supportable, but happy.

I felt somewhat encouraged by these assurances; but flattering as
they were, I was not without my uneasiness as to the employment,
which the corsair held out as a nameless, but invaluable boon.
When we arrived in the port of Algiers, a great number of persons
were collected to receive us; and we had not yet disembarked,
when they uttered a thousand shouts of joy. Add to this, that the
air re-echoed with a confused sound of trumpets, of Moorish
flutes, and of other instruments, the fashion of that country,
forming a symphony of deafening clangour, but very doubtful
harmony. The occasion of these rejoicings proceeded from a false
report, which had been current about the town. It had been the
general talk that the renegado Mahomet, meaning our amiable
pirate, had lost his life in the attack of a large Genoese
vessel; so that all his friends, informed of his return, were
eager to hail him with these thundering demonstrations of
attachment.

We had no sooner set foot on shore, than my companions and myself
were conducted to the palace of the bashaw Soliman, where a
Christian secretary, questioning us individually one after
another, inquired into our names, our ages, our country, our
religion, and our qualifications. Then Mahomet, presenting me to
the bashaw, paid my voice more compliments than it deserved, and
told him that I played on the guitar with a most ravishing
expression. This was enough to influence Soliman in his choice of
me for his own immediate service. I took up my abode therefore in
his seraglio. The other captives were led into the public market,
and sold there at the usual rate of Christian cattle. What
Mahomet had foretold to me on ship-board was completely verified;
my condition was exactly to my mind. I was not consigned to the
stronghold of a prison, nor kept to any works of oppressive
labour. My indulgent master stationed me in a particular quarter,
with five or six slaves of superior rank, who were in momentary
expectation of being ransomed, and were therefore favoured in the
distribution of our tasks. The care of watering the orange-trees
and flowers in the gardens was allotted as my portion. There
could not be a more agreeable or less fatiguing employment.

Soliman was a man about forty years of age, well made as to
figure, tolerably accomplished as to his mind, and as much of a
lady's man as could be expected from a Turk. His favourite was a
Cashmirian, whose wit and beauty had acquired an absolute
dominion over his affections. He loved her even to idolatry. Not
a day but he paid his court to her by some elegant entertainment;
at one time a concert of vocal and instrumental music, at
another, a dramatic performance after the fashion of the Turks,
which fashion implies a loose sort of comedy, where moral and
modesty enter about as much into the contemplation of the
contriver, as do Aristotle and his unities. The favourite, whose
name was Farrukhnaz, was passionately enamoured of these
exhibitions; she sometimes even got up among her own women some
Arabian melodramas to be performed before her admirer. She took
some of the parts herself; and charmed the spectators by the
abundant grace and vivacity of her action. One day when I was
among the musicians at one of these representations, Soliman
ordered me to play on the guitar, and to sing a solo between the
acts of the piece. I had the good fortune to give satisfaction,
and was received with applause. The favourite herself, if my
vanity did not mislead me, cast glances towards me of no
unfavourable interpretation.

On the next day, as I was watering the orange-trees in the
gardens, there passed close by me an eunuch, who, without
stopping or saying a word, threw down a note at my feet. I picked
it up with an emotion, strangely compounded of pleasure and
alarm. I crouched upon the ground, for fear of being observed
from the windows of the seraglio; and, concealing myself behind
the boxes in which the orange-trees were planted, opened this
unexpected enclosure. There I found a diamond of very
considerable value, and these words, in genuine Castilian: "Young
Christian, return thanks to heaven for your captivity. Love and
fortune will render it the harbinger of your bliss: love, if you
are alive to the attractions of a fine person, and fortune, if
you have the hardihood to confront danger in every direction."

I could not for a moment doubt that the letter was written by the
favourite sultana; the style and the diamond were more than
presumptive evidence against her. Besides that nature did not
cast me in the mould of a coward, the vanity of keeping up a good
understanding with the mistress of a scoundrelly Mahometan in
office, and, more than all the temptations of vanity or
inclination, the hope of cajoling her out of four times as much
as the curmudgeon her master would demand for my ransom, put me
into conceit with. the intention of trying my luck at a venture,
whatever risk might be incurred in the experiment. I went on with
my gardening, but always harping on the means of getting into the
apartment of Farrukhnaz, or rather waiting till she opened a door
of communication; for I was clearly of opinion that she would not
stop upon the threshold, but meet me half way in the career of
love and danger. My conjecture was not altogether without
foundation. The same eunuch who had led me into this amorous
reverie passed the same way an hour afterwards, and said to me:
Christian, have you communed with your own determinations, and
will you win a fair lady, by abjuring a faint heart? I answered
in the affirmative. Well, then, rejoined he, heaven sprinkle its
dew upon your resolutions! You shall see me betimes to-morrow
morning. With this comfortable assurance, he withdrew. The
following day, I actually saw him make his appearance about eight
o'clock in the morning. He made a signal for me to go along with
him: I obeyed the summons; and he conducted me into a hall where
was a large wrapper of canvas which he and another eunuch had
just brought thither, with the design of carrying it to the
sultana's apartment, for the purpose of furnishing a scene for an
Arabian pantomime, in preparation for the amusement of the
bashaw.

The two eunuchs unrolled the cloth, and laid me at my length on
the proscenium; then, at the risk of turning the farce into a
tragedy by stifling me, they rolled it up again, with its
palpitating contents. In the next place, taking hold of it at
each end, they conveyed me with impunity by this device into the
chamber devoted to the repose of the beautiful Cashmirian. She
was alone with an old slave devoted to her wishes. They helped
each other to unroll their precious bale of goods; and
Farrukhnaz, at the sight of her consignment, set up such an alarm
of delight, as exhibited the woman of the East, without for
getting her prurient propensities. With all my natural bias
towards adventure, I could not recognize myself as at once
transported into the private apartment of the women, without
something like an inauspicious damp upon my joy. The lady was
aware of my feelings, and anxious to dissipate the unpleasant
part of them, Young man, said she, you have nothing to fear.
Soliman is just gone to his country-house: he is safely lodged
for the day; so that we shall be able to entertain one another
here at our ease.

Hints like these rallied my scattered spirits, and gave a cast to
my countenance which confirmed the speculation of the favourite.
You have won my heart, pursued she, and it is in my contemplation
to soften the severity of your bondage. You seem to be worthy of
the sentiments which I have conceived for you. Though disguised
under the garb of a slave, your air is noble, and your
physiognomy of a character to recommend you to the good graces of
a lady. Such an exterior must belong to one above the common.
Unbosom yourself to me in confidence; tell me who you are. I know
that captives of superior condition and family disguise their
real circumstances, to be redeemed at a lower rate; but you have
no inducement to practise such a deception on me; and it would
even be a precaution revolting to my designs in your favour,
since I here pledge myself for your liberty. Deal with sincerity,
therefore, and own to me at once that you are a youth of
illustrious rank. In good earnest then, madam, answered I, it
would ill become me to repay your generous partiality with
dissimulation. You are absolutely bent upon it, that I should
entrust you with the secret of my quality, and commands like
yours are not to be questioned or resisted. I am the son of a
Spanish grandee. And so it might actually have been, for anything
that I know to the contrary; at all events, the sultana gave me
credit for it, so that with considerable self-congratulation, at
having fixed her regard on a gentleman of some little figure in
the world, she assured me that it only depended on herself,
whether or no we should meet pretty often in private. In fact, we
were no niggards of our mutual good-will at the very first
approaches. I never met with a woman who was more what a man
wishes her to be. She was besides an expert linguist, above all
in Castilian, which she spoke with fluency and purity. When she
conceived it to be time for us to part, I got by her order into a
large osier basket, with an embroidered silk covering of her own
manufacture; then the two slaves who had brought me in were
called, to carry me out as a present from the favourite to her
deluded lord; for under this pretence it is easy to screen any
amorous exports from the inspection of the officers entrusted
with the superintendence of the women.

As for Farrukhnaz and myself, we were not slack in other devices
to bring us together; and that lovely captive inspired me by
degrees with as much love as she herself entertained for me. Our
good understanding was kept a profound secret for full two
months, notwithstanding the extreme difficulty in a seraglio of
veiling the mysteries of love for any length of time from those
uninitiated, whose eyes are jaundiced by their own
disqualification. Neither was the discovery made at last by the
means of envious spies. An unlucky chance disconcerted all our
little arrangements, and the features of my fortune were at once
aggravated into a frown. One day when I had been introduced into
the presence of the sultana, in the body of an artificial dragon,
invented as a machine for a spectacle, while we were parleying
most amicably together, Soliman, to whom we had given credit for
having gone out of town, made his unwelcome appearance. He
entered so abruptly into his favourite's apartment, as scarcely
to leave time for the old slave to give us notice of his
approach. Still less was there any opportunity to conceal me.
Thus therefore, with all my enormities on my head, was I the
first object which presented itself to the astonished eyes of the
bashaw.

He seemed considerably startled at the sight; and his countenance
flashed with indignation on the instant. I considered myself as a
wretch just hovering on the brink of the grave; and death seemed
arrayed in all the paraphernalia of torture. As for Farrukhnaz,
it was very evident, in good truth, that she was miserably
frightened; but instead of owning her crime and imploring pardon,
she said to Soliman: My lord, before you pronounce my sentence,
be pleased to hear my defence. Appearances, doubtless, condemn
me; and it must strike you that I have committed an act of
treason, worthy the most dreadful punishments. It is true, I have
brought this young captive hither; it is true that I have
introduced him into my apartment, with just such artifices as I
should have used if I had entertained a violent passion for him.
And yet, I call our great prophet to witness, in spite of these
seeming irregularities, I am not faithless to you. It was my wish
to converse with this Christian slave, for the purpose of
disengaging him from his own sect, and proselytising him to that
of the true believers. But I have found in him a principle of
resistance for which I was not well prepared. I have, however,
conquered his prejudices; and he came to give me an assurance
that he would embrace Mahometanism.

I do not mean to deny that it was an act of duty to have
contradicted the favourite flatly, without paying the least
attention to the dangerous predicament in which I stood: but my
spirits were taken by surprise; the beloved partner of my
imprudence was hovering on the brink of perdition; and my own
fate was involved with hers. How could I do otherwise than give a
silent and perturbed assent to her impious fiction? My tongue,
indeed, refused to ratify it; but the bashaw, persuaded by my
acquiescence that his mistress had told him the whole truth and
nothing but the truth, suffered his angry spirit to be
tranquillized. Madam, answered he, I am willing to believe that
you have committed no infidelity towards me; and that the desire
of doing a thing agreeable to the prophet has been the means of
leading you on to risk so hazardous and delicate a proceeding. I
forgive, therefore, your imprudence, on condition that this
captive assumes the turban on the spot. He sent immediately for a
priest to initiate me. [These wandering priests are at present
known in Africa by the name of Marabut. The first gymnosophists
of Ethiopia most probably were nothing more. -- TRANSLATOR.] My
dress was changed with all due ceremony into the Turkish. They
did just what they pleased with me; nor had I the courage to
object: or, to do myself more justice, I knew not what was
becoming of me, in so dreadful a disorder of all my faculties and
feelings. There are other good Christians in the world, who have
been guilty of apostatizing on less imminent emergencies!

After the ceremony, I took my leave of the seraglio, to go and
possess myself, under the name of Sidy Hali, of an inferior
office which Soliman had given me. I never saw the sultana more;
but an eunuch of hers came one day to look after me. He brought
with him, as a present from his mistress, jewels to a very
considerable amount, accompanied with a letter, in which the lady
assured me she should never forget my generous compliance, in
turning Mahometan to save her life. In point of fact, besides
these rich gifts, lavished upon me by Farrukhnaz, I obtained
through her interest a more considerable employment than my
first, and in the course of six or seven years became one of the
richest renegadoes in the town of Algiers.

You must be perfectly aware, that if I assisted at the prayers
put up by the Mussulmen in their mosques, or fulfilled the other
observances of their religion, it was all a mere copy of my
countenance. My inclination was always uniform and determined, as
to returning before my death into the bosom of our holy church;
and with this view I looked forward to withdrawing some time or
other into Spain or Italy with the riches I should have
accumulated. But there seemed no reason whatever against enjoying
life in the interval. I was established in a magnificent mansion,
with gardens of extent and beauty, a numerous train of slaves,
and a well-appointed equipage of pretty girls in my seraglio.
Though the Mahometans are forbidden the use of wine in that
country, they are not backward for the most part in their stolen
libations. As for me, my orgies were without either a mask or a
blush, after the manner of my brother renegadoes. I remember in
particular two of my bottle companions, with whom I often drank
down the night before we rose from table. One was a Jew, and the
other an Arabian. I took them to be good sort of people; and,
with that impression, lived in unconstrained familiarity with
them. One evening I invited them to sup at my house. On that very
day a dog of mine died -- it was a pet; we performed our pious
ablutions on his lifeless clay, and buried him with all the
solemn obsequies attendant on a Mahometan funeral. This act of
ours was not designed to turn the religion we outwardly professed
into ridicule; it was only to furnish ourselves with amusement,
and give loose to a ludicrous whim which struck us in the moment
of jollity, that of paying the last offices of humanity to my
dog.

This action was, however, very near laying me by the heels. On
the following day there came a fellow to my house, saying, Master
Sidy Hali, it is no laughing matter that induces me to pay you
this visit. My employer, the cadi, wants to have a word in your
ear; be so good, if you please, as just to step to his office,
without loss of time. An Arabian merchant, who supped with you
last night, has laid an information respecting a certain act of
irreverence perpetrated by you, on occasion of a dog which you
buried. It is on that charge that I summon you to appear this day
before the judge; and in case of failure, you are hereby warned
that you will be the subject of a criminal prosecution. Away went
he, leaving me to digest his discourse; but the citation stuck in
my throat, and took away my appetite. The Arabian had no reason
whatever to set his face against me; and I could not comprehend
the meaning of the dog's trick the scoundrel had played me. The
circumstance at all events demanded my prompt attention. I knew
the cadi's character: a saint on the outside, but a sinner in his
heart. Away went I therefore to wait on this judge, but not with
empty pockets. He sent for me into his private room, and began
upon me in all the vehemence of pious indignation: You are a
fellow rejected out of paradise! a blasphemer of our holy law! a
man loathsome and abominable to look upon! You have performed the
funeral service of a Mussulman over a dog. What an act of
sacrilege! Is it thus, then, that you reverence our most holy
ceremonies? Have you only turned Mahometan to laugh at our
devotions and our rites? My honoured master, answered I, the
Arabian who has told you such a cock-and-bull story is a wolf in
sheep's clothing; and more than that, he is even an accomplice in
my crime, if it is one, to grant such rest as to peace-parted
souls to a faithful household servant, to an animal with more
good qualities than half the two-legged Mahometans out of
Christendom. His attachment besides to people of merit and
consideration in the world was at once moral and sensible; and at
his death he left several little tokens of remembrance to his
friends. By his last will and testament, he bequeathed his
effects in the manner therein mentioned, and did me the honour to
name me for his executor. This old crony came in for twenty
crowns, that for thirty, and another for a cool hundred; but your
worship is interested deeply in this instrument, pursued I,
drawing out my purse; he has left you residuary legatee, and here
is the amount of the bequest. The cadi's gravity could not but
relax, after the posthumous kindness of his deceased friend; and
he laughed outright in the face of the mock executor. As we were
alone, there was no occasion to make wry mouths at the purse, and
my acquittal was pronounced in these words: Go, Master Sidy Hali;
it was a very pious act of yours, to enlarge the obsequies of a
dog, who had so manly a fellow-feeling for honest folks.

By this device I got out of the scrape; and if the hint did not
increase my religion, it doubled my circumspection. I was
determined no longer to open either my cellar or my soul in
presence of Arabian or Jew. My bottle companion henceforward was
a young gentleman from Leghorn, who had the happiness of being my
slave. His name was Azarini. I was of another kidney from
renegadoes in general, who impose greater hardships on their
Christian slaves than do the Turks themselves. All my captives
waited for the period of their ransom, without any impatient
hankering after home. My behaviour to them was, in truth, so
gentle and fatherly, that many of them assured me they were more
afraid of changing their master than anxious after their liberty;
whatever magic that word may have to the ears of those who have
felt what it is to be deprived of it.

One day the bashaw's corsairs came into port with considerable
prizes. Their cargo amounted to more than a hundred slaves of
either sex, carried off from the Spanish coast. Soliman retained
but a very small number, and all the rest were sold. I happened
to go to market, and bought a Spanish girl, ten or twelve years
old. She cried as if her heart would break, and looked the
picture of despair. It seemed strange, that at her age slavery
should make such an impression on her. I told her, in Castilian,
to combat with her terrors: and assured her that she was fallen
into the hands of a master who had not put off humanity when he
took up the turban. The little mourner, not initiated in the
trade of grief, pursued the subject of her lamentations without
listening to me. Her whole soul seemed to be breathed in her
sighs; she descanted on her wretched fate, and exclaimed from
time to time in softened accents: O my mother, why were we ever
parted? I could bear my lot with patience, might we share it
together. With these lamentations on her lips, she turned round
towards a woman of from five-and-forty to fifty, standing at the
distance of several paces, and waiting with her eyes fixed to the
ground, in a determined, sullen silence, till she met with a
purchaser. I asked my young bargain if the lady she was looking
at was her mother. Alas! she is, indeed, sir, replied the girl;
for the love of God, do not let me be parted from her. Well,
then, my distressed little damsel, said I, if it will give you
any pleasure, there is no more to do than to settle you both in
the same quarters, and then you will give over your murmuring. On
the very moment I went up to the mother, with the intention of
cheapening her; but no sooner did I cast my eyes on her face,
than I knew again, with what emotion you may guess! the very form
and pressure of Lucinda. Just heaven! said I within myself; this
is my mother! Nature whispers it in my ear, and can I doubt her
evidence? On her part, whether a keen resentment of her woes
pointed out an enemy in every object on which she glanced, or
else it might be my dress that disfigured me; . . . . or else I
might have grown a little older in about a dozen years since she
had seen me . . . . but however historians may account for it,
she did not know me. But I knew her, and bought her: the pair
were sent home to my house.

When they were safely lodged, I wished to surprise them with the
pleasure of ascertaining who I was. Madam, said I to Lucinda, is
it possible that my features should not strike you? 'Tis true, I
wear whiskers and a turban: but is Raphael less your son for
that? My mother thrilled through all her frame at these words,
looked at me with an eager gaze, my whole self rushed into her
recollection, and into each other's arms we affectionately flew.
I then caressed, in moderated ecstasies, her daughter, who
perhaps knew as much about having a brother as I did about having
a sister. Tell the truth, said I to my mother; in all your
theatrical discoveries, did you ever meet with one so truly
natural and dramatic as this? My dear son, answered she, in an
accent of sorrow, the first sight of you after so long a
separation overwhelmed me with joy, but the revulsion was only
the more deeply distressing. In what condition, alas! do I again
behold you? My own slavery is a thousand times less revolting to
my feelings than the disgraceful habiliments . . . . Heyday! By
all the powers, madam, interrupted I with a hearty laugh, I am
quite delighted with your newly-acquired morality: this is
excellent in an actress. Well! well! as heaven is my judge, my
honoured mamma, you are mightily improved in your principles, if
my transformation astounds your religious eyesight. So far from
quarrelling with your turban, consider me rather as an actor,
playing a Turkish character on the stage of the world. Though a
conformist, I am just as much a Mussulman as when I was in Spain;
nay, in the bottom of my heart, I never was a more firm believer
in our Christian creed than at the present moment. When you shall
become acquainted with all my hair-breadth escapes, since I have
been domesticated in this country, you will not be rigorous in
your censure. Love has been the cause of my apostasy, and he who
worships at that shrine may be absolved from all other
infidelities. I have a little of my mother in me, take my word
for it. Another reason besides ought to moderate your disgust at
seeing me under my present circumstances. You were expecting to
experience a harsh captivity in Algiers, but you find in your
protector a son, with all the tenderness and reverence befitting
his relation to you, and rich enough to maintain you here in
plenty and comfort, till a favourable opportunity offers of
returning with safety into Spain. Admit, therefore, the force of
the proverb, which says that evil itself is good for something.

My dear son, said Lucinda, since you fully intend one day to go
back into your own country, and to throw off the mantle of
Mahomet, my scruples are all satisfied. Thanks to heaven,
continued she, I shall be able to carry back your sister Beatrice
safe and sound into Castile. Yes, madam, exclaimed I, so you may.
We will all three, as soon as the season may serve, go and throw
ourselves into the bosom of our family: for I make no matter of
doubt but you have still in Spain other indisputable evidences of
your prolific powers. No, said my mother, I have only you two,
the offspring of my body; and you are to know that Beatrice is
the fruit of a marriage, manufactured in as workmanlike a manner
as any within the pale of the church. And pray, for what reason,
replied I, might not my little sister have been just as
contraband as myself? How did you ever work yourself up to the
formidable resolution of marrying? I have heard you say a hundred
times, in my childhood, that there was no benefit of clergy for a
pretty woman who could commit such an offence as to take up with
a husband. Times and seasons ebb and flow, my son, rejoined she.
Men of the most resolute character may be shaken in their
purposes: and do you require that a woman should be inflexible in
hers? But I will now relate to you the story of my life since
your departure from Madrid. She then began the following recital,
which will never be obliterated from my memory. I will not
withhold from you so curious a narrative.

It is nearly thirteen years, if you recollect, said my mother,
since you left young Leganez. Just at that time, the Duke of
Medina Coeli told me that he had a mind to sup with me one
evening in private. The day was fixed. I made preparations for
his reception: he came, and I pleased him. He required from me
the sacrifice of all his rivals, past, present, and to come. I
came into his terms, in the hope of being well paid for my
complaisance. There was no deficiency on that score. On the very
next morning, I received presents from him, which were followed
up by a long train of kindred attentions. I was afraid of not
being able to hold in my chains a man of his exalted rank: and
this apprehension was the better founded, because it was a matter
of notoriety, that he had escaped from the clutches of several
celebrated beauties, whose chains he had worn, only for the
purpose of breaking. But for all that, so far from surfeiting on
the relish of my kindness, his appetite grew by what it fed on.
In short, I found out the secret of entertaining him, and
impounding his heart, naturally roving, so that it should not go
astray according to its usual volatility.

He had now been my admirer for three months, and I had every
reason to flatter myself that the arrangement would be lasting,
when a lady of my acquaintance and myself happened to go to an
assembly, where the duchess his wife was of the party. We were
invited to a concert of vocal and instrumental music. We
accidentally seated ourselves too near the duchess, who took it
into her head to be affronted, that I should exhibit my person in
a place where she was. She sent me word by one of her women, that
she should take it as a favour if I would quit the room
immediately. I sent back an answer, just as saucy as the message.
The duchess, irritated to fury, laid her wrongs before her
husband, who came to me in person, and said: Retire, Lucinda.
Though noblemen of the first rank attach themselves to pretty
playthings like yourself, it is highly unbecoming in you to
forget your proper distance. If we love you better than our
wives, we honour our wives more than you: whenever, therefore,
your insolence shall go so far as to set yourselves up for their
rivals under their very noses, you will always be mortified, and
made to know your places.

Fortunately the duke held his cruel language to me in so low a
tone of voice as not to have been overheard by the people about
us. I withdrew in deep confusion, and cried with vexation at
having incurred such an affront. At once, to crown my shame and
aggravate my chastisement, the actors and actresses got hold of
the story on the very same evening. To do them justice, these
gentry must contrive to entertain a familiar spirit, whose
business is to fly about, and whisper in the ear of one whatever
falls out amiss to the other. Suppose, for instance, that an
actor gets drunk and makes a fool of himself; or an actress gets
hold of a rich cully and makes a fool of him! The green-room is
sure to ring with all the particulars, and a few more than are
true. All my kindred of the sock and buskin were informed at once
of what had happened at the concert, and a blessed life they led
me with their quips and quiddities. Never was there charity like
theirs. Without beginning at home, heaven only knows where it
ends! But I held myself too high to be affected by their jibes
and jeers: nor did even the loss of the Duke de Medina Coeli hang
heavy on my spirits; for true it was, I never saw him more at my
toilette, but learned, a very short time after, that he had got
into the trammels of a little warbler.

When a theatrical lady has the good luck to be in fashion, she
may change her lover as often as her petticoat: and one noble
fool, should he even recover his wits at the end of three days,
serves excellently well for a decoy to his successor. No sooner
was it buzzed about Madrid, that the duke had raised the siege,
than a new host of would-be conquerors appeared before the
trenches. The very rivals whom I had sacrificed to his wishes,
looking at my charms through the magnifying medium of delay and
disappointment, came back again in crowds to encounter new
caprices; to say nothing of a thousand fresh hearts, ready to
bargain on the mere report of my being to let. I had never been
so exclusively the mode. Of all the men who put in for being
cajoled by me, a portly German, belonging to the Duke of Ossuna's
household, seemed to bid highest. Not that his personal
attractions were by any means the most catching; but then there
were a thousand amiable pistoles on the list of candidates,
scraped together by perquisites in his master's service, and
turned adrift with the prodigality of a prince, in the hope of
becoming my favoured lover. This fat pigeon to be plucked was by
name Brutandorf. As long as his pockets were lined, his reception
was warm: empty purses meet.with fastened doors. The principles
on which my friendship rested were not altogether to his taste.
He came to the play to look after me during the performance. I
was behind the scenes. It was his humour to load me with
reproaches; it was mine to laugh in his face. This provoked his
boorish wrath, and he gave me a box on the ear, like a clumsy-
fisted German as he was. I set up a loud scream: the business of
the stage was suspended. I came forward to the front, and,
addressing the Duke of Ossuna, who was at the play on that
occasion with his lady duchess, begged his protection from the
German gallantry of his establishment. The duke gave orders for
our proceeding with the piece, and intimated that he would hear
the parties after the curtain had dropped. At the conclusion of
the play I presented myself in all the dreary pomp of tragedy
before the duke, and laid open my griefs in all the majesty of
woe. As for my German pugilist, his defence was on a level with
his provocation; so far from being sorry for what he had done,
his fingers itched to give me another dressing. The cause being
heard pro and con, the Duke of Ossuna said to his Scandinavian
savage: Brutandorf I dismiss you from my service, and beg never
to see anything more of you, not because you have given a box on
the ear to an actress, but for your failure in respect to your
master and mistress, in having presumed to interrupt the progress
of the play in their presence.

This decision was a bitter pill for me to swallow. It was high
treason against my histrionic majesty, that the German was not
turned off on the ground of having insulted me. It seemed
difficult to conceive the possibility of a greater crime than
that of insulting a principal actress: and where crimes are
parallel, punishments should tally. The retribution in this case
would have been exemplary; and I expected no less. This
unpleasant occurrence undeceived me, and proved, to my
mortification, that the public distinguished between the actors
and the personages they may chance to enact. On this conviction,
my pride revolted at the theatre: I resolved to give up my
engagements to go and live at a distance from Madrid. I fixed on
the city of Valencia for the place of my retreat, and went
thither under a feigned character, with a property of twenty
thousand ducats in money and jewels: a sum in my mind more than
sufficient to maintain me for the remainder of my days, since it
was my purpose to lead a retired life. I rented a small house at
Valencia, and limited my establishment to a female servant and a
page, who were as ignorant of my birth, parentage, and education,
as the rest of the town. I gave myself out for the widow of an
officer belonging to the king's household, and intimated that I
had made choice of Valencia for my residence, on the report that
it was one of the most agreeable neighbourhoods in Spain. I saw
very little company, and maintained so reserved a deportment,
that there never was the slightest suspicion of my having been an
actress. Yet, not withstanding all the pains I took to hide
myself from the garish eye of day, I had worse success against
the piercing ken of a gentleman, who had a country seat near
Paterna. He was of an ancient family, in person genteel and
manly, from five-and-thirty to forty years of age, nobly
connected, but scandalously in debt; a contradiction in the
vocabulary of honour, neither more unaccountable nor uncommon in
the kingdom of Valencia, than what takes place every day in other
parts of the civilized world.

This gentleman of a generation or two before the present, finding
my person to his liking, was desirous of knowing if in other
respects I was a commodity for his market. He set every engine at
work to inquire into the most minute particulars, and had the
pleasure to learn from general report, that I was a warm widow
with a comfortable jointure, and a person little, if anything,
the worse for wear. It struck him that this was just the match;
so that in a very short time an old lady came to my house,
telling me, from him, that with equal admiration of my virtues
and my charms, he laid himself and his fortune at my feet, and
was ready to lead me to the altar, if I could condescend so far
as to become his wife. I required three days to make up my mind
on the subject. In this interval, I made inquiries about the
gentleman; and hearing a good character of him, notwithstanding
the deranged state of his finances, it was my determination to
marry him without more ado, so that the preliminaries were soon
ratified by a definitive treaty.

Don Manuel de Xerica, for that was my husband's name, took me
immediately after the ceremony to his castle, which had an air of
antiquity highly flattering to his family pride. He told a story
about one of his ancestors who built it in days of yore, and
because it was not founded the day before yesterday, jumped to a
conclusion that there was not a more ancient house in Spain than
that of Xerica. But nobility, like perishable merchandise, will
run to decay; the castle, shored up on this side and on that, was
in the very agony of tumbling to pieces: what a buttress for Don
Manuel and for his old walls was his marriage with me! More than
half my savings were laid out on repairs; and the residue was
wanted to set us going in a genteel style among our country
neighbours. Behold me, then, you who can believe it, landed on a
new planet, transformed into the presiding genius of a castle,
the Lady Bountiful of my parish: our stage machinery could never
have furnished such a change! I was too good an actress not to
have supported my new rank and dignity with appropriate grace. I
assumed high airs, theatrical grandeurs, a most dignified strut
and demeanour; all which made the bumpkins conceive a wonderful
idea of my exalted origin. How would they not have tickled their
fancies at my expense, had they known the real truth of the case!
The gentry of the neighbourhood would have scoffed at me most
unmercifully, and the country people would have been much more
chary of the respect they shewed me.

It was now near six years that I had lived very happily with Don
Manuel, when he ended ways, means, and life together. My legacy
consisted of a broken fortune to splice, and your sister
Beatrice, then more than four years old, to maintain. The castle,
which was our only tangible resource, was unfortunately mortgaged
to several creditors, the principal of whom was one Bernard
Astuto. Cunning by name, and cunning by nature! He practised as
an attorney at Valencia, and bore his faculties in all the infamy
of pettifogging; law and equity conspired in his person to push
the trade of cozening and swindling to the utmost extremity. To
think of falling into the clutches of such a creditor! A
gentleman's property under the gripe of such a claw as this
attorney's affords much the same sport as a lamb to a wolf or a
dove to a kite. Nearly after the fashion of these beasts and
birds of prey, did Signor Astuto, when informed of my husband's
death, hover over his victim, concealing his fell purpose under
the ambush of the law. The whole estate would have been swallowed
up in pleadings, affidavits, demurrers, and rejoinders, but for
the light thrown upon the proceedings by my lucky star; under
whose influence the plaintiff was turned at once into defendant,
and was left without a reply to the arguments of these all-
powerful eyes. I got to the blind side of him in an interview,
which I contrived during the progress of our litigation. Nothing
was wanting on my part, I own it frankly, to fill him brimful of
the tender passion; an ardent longing to save my goods, chattels,
and domain, made me practise upon him, to my own disgust, that
system of coquettish tactics and flirtation which had drawn so
many former fools into an ambuscade. Yet, with all the resources
of a veteran, I was very near letting the attorney escape. He was
so barricaded by mouldy parchments, so immured in actions and
informations, as scarcely to seem susceptible of any love but the
love of law. The truth, however, was, that this moping
pettifogger, this porer over ponderous abridgments, this scrawler
of acts and deeds, had more young blood in him than I was aware
of, and a trick of looking at me out of the corner of his eye. He
professed to be a novice in the art of courtship. My whole heart
and soul, madam, said he, have been wedded to my profession; and
the consequence has been, that the uses and customs of gallantry
have seemed weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable to me. But
though not a man of outward show, I am well furnished with the
stock in trade of love. To come to the point at once, if you can
resolve in your mind to marry me, we will make a grand bonfire of
the whole lawsuit; and I will give the go-by to those rascally
creditors, who have joined issue with me in our attack upon your
estate. You shall have the life interest, and your daughter the
reversion. So good a bargain for Beatrice and myself would not
allow of any wavering: I closed without delay on the conditions.
The attorney kept his word most miraculously: he turned short
round upon the other creditors, defeated them with the very
weapons himself had furnished with their joint campaign, and
secured me in the possession of my house and lands. It was
probably the first time in his life that he had taken up the
cause of the widow and the orphan.

Thus did I become the honoured wife of an attorney, without
losing my rank as the lady of the manor. But this incongruous
marriage ruined me in the esteem of the gentry about Valencia.
The women of quality looked upon me as a person who had lowered
herself, and refused any longer to visit me. This inevitably
threw me on the acquaintance of the tradespeople; a circumstance
which could not do otherwise than hurt my feelings a little at
first, because I had been accustomed, for the last six years, to
associate only with ladies of the higher classes. But it was in
vain to fret about it; and I soon found my level. I got most
intimately acquainted with the wives of my husband's brethren of
the quill and brief. Their characters were not a little
entertaining. There was an absurdity in their manners, which
tickled me to the very soul. These trumpery fine ladies held
themselves up for something far above the common run. Well-a-day!
said I to myself, every now and then, when they forgot the blue-
bag: this is the way of the world! Every one fancies himself to
be something vastly superior to his neighbour. I thought we
actresses only did not know our places; women at the lower end of
private life, as far as I see, are just as absurd in their
pretensions. I should like, by way of check upon their
presumption, to propose a law, that family pictures and pedigrees
should be hung up in every house. Were the situation left to the
choice of the owner, the deuce is in it if these legal gentry
would not cram their scrivening ancestors either into the cellar
or the garret.

After four years passed in the holy state of wedlock, Signor
Bernardo d'Astuto fell sick, and went the way of all flesh. We
had no family. Between my settlement and what I was worth before,
I found myself a well-endowed widow. I had too the reputation of
being so; and on this report, a Sicilian gentleman, by name
Colifichini, determined to stick in my skirts, and either ruin or
marry me. The alternative was kindly left to my own choice. He
was come from Palermo to see Spain, and, after having satisfied
his curiosity, was waiting, as he said, at Valencia for an
opportunity of taking his passage back to Sicily. The spark was
not quite five-and-twenty; of an elegant, though diminutive
person; . . . . in short, his figure absolutely haunted me. He
found the means of getting to the speech of me in private; and, I
will own it to you frankly, I fell distractedly in love with him
from the moment of our very first interview. On his part, the
little knave flounced over head and ears in admiration of my
charms. I do really think, God forgive me for it, that we should
have been married out of hand, if the death of the attorney,
whose funeral baked meats were scarcely cold enough to have
furnished forth the marriage tables, would have allowed me to
contract a new engagement at so short a warning. But since I had
got into the matrimonial line, it was necessary that where the
church makes the feast, the devil should not send cooks; I
therefore took care always to season my nuptials to the palate of
the world at large.

Thus did we agree to delay our coming together for a time, out of
a tender regard to appearances. Colifichini, in the mean time,
devoted all his attentions to me: his passion, far from
languishing, seemed to become more a part of himself from day to
day. The poor lad was not too flush of ready money. This struck
my observation; and he was no longer at a loss for his little
pocket expenses. Besides being very nearly twice his age, I
recollected having laid the men under contribution in my younger
days; so that I looked upon what I was then lavishing as a sort
of restitution, which balanced my debtor and creditor account,
and made me quits with my conscience. We waited, as patiently as
our frailty would allow, for the period when widows may in
decency so far surmount their grief as to try their luck again.
When the happy morning rose, we presented ourselves before the
altar, where we plighted our faith to each other by oaths the
most solemn and binding. We then retired to my castle, where I
may truly say that we lived for two years, less as husband and
wife than as tender and unfettered lovers. But alas l such an
union, so happy and sentimental, was not long to be the lot of
humanity: a pleurisy carried off my dear Colifichini.

At this passage in her history, I interrupted my mother. Heyday l
madam, your third husband dispatched already? You must he a most
deadly taking. What do you mean? answered she: is it for me to
dispute the will of heaven, and lengthen the days parcelled out
to every son of earth? If I have lost three husbands, it was none
of my fault. Two of them cost me many a salt tear. If I buried
any with dry eyes, it was the attorney. As that was merely a
match of interest, I was easily reconciled to the loss of him.
But to return to Colifichini, I was going to tell you, that some
months after his death, I had a mind to go and take possession of
a country house near Palermo, which he had settled on me as a
jointure, by our marriage contract. I took my passage for Sicily
with my daughter; but we were taken on the voyage by Algerine
corsairs. This city was our destination. Happily for us, you
happened to he at the market where we were put up for sale. Had
it been otherwise, we must have fallen into the hands of some
barbarian purchaser, who would have used us ill; and we probably
might have passed our whole life in slavery, nor would you ever
have heard of us.

Such was my mother's story. To return to my own, gentlemen, I
gave her the best apartment in my house, with the liberty of
living after her own fashion; which was a circumstance very
agreeable to her taste. She had a confirmed habit of loving,
brought to such a system by so many repeated experiments, that it
was impossible for her to do without either a gallant or a
husband. At first she looked with favour on some of my slaves;
but Hali Pegelin, a Greek renegado, who sometimes came and called
upon us, soon drew all her glances on himself. She conceived a
stronger passion for him than she had ever done for Colifichini:
and such was her aptitude for pleasing the men, that she found
the way to wind herself about the heart of this man also. I
seemed as if unconscious of their good understanding; being then
intent only on my return into Spain. The bashaw had already given
me leave to fit out a vessel, for the purpose of sweeping the sea
and committing acts of piracy. This armament was my sole object.
Just a week before it was completed, I said to Lucinda: Madam, we
shall take our leave of Algiers almost immediately; so that you
will bid a long farewell to an abode which you cannot but detest.

My mother turned pale at these words, and stood silent and
motionless. My surprise was extreme. What do I see? said I to
her: whence comes it that you present such an image of terror and
despair? My design was to fill you with transport; but the effect
of my intelligence seems only to overwhelm you with affliction. I
thought to have been thanked for my welcome news; and hastened
with eagerness to tell you that all is ready for our departure.
Are you no longer in the mind to go back into Spain? No, my son;
Spain no longer has any charms for me, answered my mother. It has
been the scene of all my sorrows, and I have turned my back on it
for ever. What do I hear? exclaimed I in an agony: Ah! tell me
rather, that it is a fatal passion which alienates you from your
native country. Just heavens! what a change! When you landed
here, every object that met your eyes was hateful to them, but
Hali Pegelin has given another colour to your fancy. I do not
deny it, replied Lucinda: I love that renegado, and mean to take
him for my fourth husband. What an idea! interrupted I with
horror: you, to marry a Mussulman! You forget yourself to be a
Christian, or rather have hitherto been one only in name and not
in heart. Ah! my dear mother, what a futurity do you present to
my imagination! You are running headlong to your eternal ruin.
You are going to do voluntarily, and from impure motives, what I
have only done under the pressure of necessity.

I urged many other arguments in the same strain, to turn her
aside from her purpose: but all my eloquence was wasted; she had
made up her mind to her future destiny. Not satisfied with
following the bent of her base inclinations, and leaving her son
to go and live with this renegado, she had even formed a design
to settle Beatrice in her own family. This I opposed with all my
might and main. Ah! wretched Lucinda, said I, if nothing is
capable of keeping you within the limits of your duty, at least
rush on perdition alone; confine with in yourself the fury which
possesses you; cast not a young innocent headlong over a
precipice, though you yourself may venture on the leap. Lucinda
quitted my presence in moody silence. It struck me that a remnant
of reason still enlightened her, and that she would not
obstinately persevere in requiring her daughter to be given up to
her. How little did I know of my mother! One of my slaves said to
me two days afterwards: Sir, take care of yourself. A captive
belonging to Pegelin has just let me into a secret, of which you
cannot too soon avail yourself. Your mother has changed her
religion; and as a punishment upon you for having refused
Beatrice to her wishes, it is her purpose to acquaint the bashaw
with your flight. I could not for a moment doubt but what Lucinda
was the woman to do just what my slave had said she would. The
lady had given me manifold opportunities of studying her
character; and it was sufficiently evident that by dint of
playing bloody parts in tragedy, she had familiarized herself
with the guilty scenes of real life. It would not in the least
have gone against her nature to have got me burned alive; nor
probably would she have been more affected by my exit after that
fashion, than by the winding up of a dramatic tale.

The warning of my slave, therefore, was not to be neglected. My
embarkation was hastened on. I took some Turks on board,
according to the practice of the Algerine corsairs when going on
a piratical expedition: but I engaged no more than was necessary
to blind the eyes of jealousy, and weighed anchor from the port
as soon as possible, with all my slaves and my sister Beatrice.
You will do right to suppose, that I did not forget, in that
moment of anxiety, to pack up my whole stock of money and jewels,
amounting probably to the worth of six thousand ducats. When we
were fairly out at sea, we began by securing the Turks. They were
easily mastered, as my slaves outnumbered them. We had so
favourable a wind, that we made the coast of Italy in a very
short time. Without let or hindrance, we got into the harbour of
Leghorn, where I thought the whole city must have come out to see
us land. The father of my slave Azarini, either accidentally or
from curiosity, happened to be among the gazers. He looked with
all his eyes at my captives, as they came ashore; but though his
object was to discover his lost son among the number, it was with
little hope of so fortunate a result. But how powerful is the
plea of nature! What transports, expressed by mutual embraces,
followed the recognition of a tie so close, but so painfully
interrupted for a time!

As soon as Azarini had acquainted his father who I was, and what
brought me to Leghorn, the old man obliged me, as well as
Beatrice, to accept of an apartment in his house. I shall pass
over in silence the description of a thousand ceremonies,
necessary to be gone through, in order to my return into the
bosom of the church; suffice it to say, that I forswore
Mahometanism with much more sincerity than I had pledged myself
to it. After having entirely purged myself from my Algerine
leaven, I sold my ship, and set all my slaves at liberty. As for
the Turks, they were committed to prison at Leghorn, to be
exchanged against Christians. I received kind attention in
abundance from the Azarini family: indeed, the young man married
my sister Beatrice, who, to speak the truth, was no bad match for
him, being a gentleman's daughter, and inheriting the castle of
Xerica, which my mother had taken care to let out to a rich
tanner of Paterna, when she resolved upon her voyage to Sicily.

From Leghorn, after having staid there some time, I departed for
Florence, a town I had a strong desire to see. I did not go
thither without letters of recommendation. Azarini the father had
connections at the grand duke's court, and introduced me to them
as a Spanish gentleman related to his family. I tacked don to my
name, in honest rivalry of impudence with other low Spaniards,
who take up that travelling title of honour without compunction,
when far enough from home to set detection at defiance. Boldly
then did I dub myself Don Raphael; and appeared at court with
suitable splendour, on the strength of what I had brought from
Algiers, to keep my nobility from starving. The high personages,
to whom old Azarini had written in my favour, gave out in their
circle that I was a person of quality; so that with this
testimony, and a natural knack I had of giving myself airs, the
deuce must have been in it if I could not have passed muster for
a man of some consequence. I soon got to be hand in glove with
the principal nobility; and they presented me to the grand duke.
I had the good fortune to make myself agreeable. It then became
an object with me to pay court to that prince, and to study his
humour. I sucked in with greedy ear all that his most experienced
courtiers said about him, and by their conversation fathomed all
his peculiarities. Among other things, he encouraged a play of
wit; was fond of good stories and lively repartees. On this hint
I formed myself. Every morning I wrote down in my pocket-book
such anecdotes as I meant to rack off in the course of the day.
My stock was considerably extensive; so that I was a walking
budget of balderdash. Yet even my estate in nonsense required
economy; and I began to get out at elbows, so as to be reduced to
borrow from myself, and mortgage my resources twenty times over:
but when the shallow current of wit and wisdom was nearly at its
summer drought, a torrent of matter-of-fact lies gave new force
to the exhausted stream of quibble. Intrigues which never had
been intrigued, and practical jokes which had never been played
off were the tools I worked with, and exactly to the level of the
grand duke: nay, what often happens to dull dealers in
inextinguishable vivacity, the mornings were spent in finaciering
those hinds of conversation, which were to be drawn upon after
dinner, as if from a perennial spring of preternatural wealth.

I had even the impudence to set up for a poet, and made my
broken-winded muse trot to the praises of the prince. I allow
candidly that the verses were execrable; but then they were quite
good enough for their readers; and it remains a doubt whether, if
they had been better, the grand duke would not have thrown them
into the fire. They seemed to be just what he would have written
upon himself. In short, it was impossible to miss the proper
style on such a subject But whatever might be my merit as a poet,
the prince, by little and little, took such a liking to my
person, as gave occasion of jealousy to his courtiers. They tried
to find out who I was. This, however, was beyond their compass.
All they could learn was, that I had been a renegado. This was
whispered forthwith in the prince's ear, in the hopes of hurting
me. Not that it succeeded: on the contrary, the grand duke one
day commanded me to give him a faithful account of my adventures
at Algiers. I obeyed; and the recital, without reserve on my
part, contributed more than any other of my stories to his
entertainment

Don Raphael, said he, after I had ended my narrative, I have a
real regard for you, and mean to give you a proof of it, which
will place my sincerity beyond a doubt Henceforth you are
admitted into my most private confidence, as the first fruits of
which, you are to know that one of my ministers has a wife, with
whom I am in love. She is the most enchanting creature at court;
but at the same time the most impregnable. Shut up in her own
household, exclusively attached to a husband who idolizes her,
she seems to be ignorant of the combustion her charms have
kindled in Florence. You will easily conceive the difficulty of
such a conquest And yet this epitome of loveliness, so deaf to
all the whispers of common seduction, has sometimes listened to
my sighs. I have found the means of speaking to her without
witnesses. She is not unacquainted with my sentiments. I do not
flatter myself with having warmed her into love; she has given me
no reason to form so sweet a conjecture. Yet I will not despair
of pleasing her by my constancy, and by the cautious conduct,
even to mystery, which I take care to observe.

My passion for this lady, continued he, is known only to herself.
Instead of pursuing my game wantonly, and overleaping the rights
of my subjects like a true sovereign, I conceal from all the
world the knowledge of my love. This delicacy seems due to
Mascarini, the husband of my beloved mistress. His zeal and
attachment to me, his services and honesty, oblige me to act in
this business with the closest secrecy and circumspection. I will
not plunge a dagger into the bosom of this ill-starred husband,
by declaring myself a suitor to his wife. Would he might for ever
be insensible, were it within possibility, to the secret flame
which devours me: for I am persuaded that he would die of grief,
were he to know the circumstances I have just now confided to
you. I therefore veil my pursuit in impenetrable darkness; and
have determined to make use of you, for the purpose of conveying
to Lucretia the merit of the sacrifices my delicacy imposes on my
feelings. Of these you shall be the interpreter. I doubt not but
you will acquit yourself to a marvel of your commission. Contrive
to be intimate with Mascarini; make a point of worming yourself
into his friendship. Then an introduction to his family will be
easy; and you will secure to yourself the liberty of conversing
freely with his wife. This is what I require from you, and what I
feel assured that you will execute with all the dexterity and
discretion necessary to so delicate an undertaking.

I promised the grand duke to do my utmost, in furtherance of his
good opinion, and in aid of his success with the object of his
desires. I kept my word without loss of time. No pains were
spared to get into Mascarini's good graces; and the design was
not difficult to accomplish. Delighted to find his friendship
sought by a man possessing the affections of the prince, he
advanced half way to meet my overtures. His house was always open
to me, my intercourse with his lady was unrestrained; and I have
no hesitation in affirming my measures to have been taken so
well, as to have precluded the slightest suspicion of the embassy
intrusted to my management. It is true, he had but a small share
of the Italian jealousy, relying as he did on the virtue of his
Lucretia; so that he often shut himself up in his closet, and
left me alone with her. I entered at once into the pith and
marrow of my subject. The grand duke's passion was my topic with
the lady; and I told her that the motive of my visits was only to
plead for that prince. She did not seem to be over head and ears
in love with him; and yet, methought, vanity forbade her to frown
decisively on his addresses. She took a pleasure in listening to
his sighs, without sighing in concert. A certain propriety of
heart she had; but then she was a woman; and it was obvious that
her rigour was giving way insensibly to the triumphant image of a
sovereign, bound in the fetters of her resistless charms. In
short, the prince had good reason to flatter himself that he
might dispense with the ill-breeding of a Tarquin, and yet bend
Lucretia to a compliance with his longings. An incident, however,
the most unexpected in the annals of romance, blasted his
flattering prospects; in what manner you shall hear.

I am naturally free and easy with the women. This constitutional
assurance, whether a blessing or a curse, was ripened into
inveterate habit among the Turks. Lucretia was a pretty woman. I
forgot that I was courting by proxy, and assumed the tone of a
principal. Nothing could exceed the warmth and gallantry with
which I offered my services to the lady. Far from appearing
offended at my boldness, or silencing me by a resentful answer,
she only said with a sarcastic smile: Own the truth, Don Raphael;
the grand duke has pitched upon a very faithful and zealous
agent. You serve him with an integrity not sufficiently to be
commended. Madam, said I in the same strain, let us not examine
things with too much nicety. A truce, I beseech you, with moral
discussions; they are not of my element: good honest passion
tallies better with our natures. I do not believe myself, after
all, the first prince's confidant who has ousted his master in an
affair of gallantry; your great lords have often dangerous
rivals, in more humble messengers than myself. That may be,
replied Lucretia: but a haughty temper stands with me in the
place of virtue, and no one under the degree of a prince shall
ever sully these charms. Regulate your behaviour accordingly,
added she in a tone of serious severity, and let us change the
subject. I willingly bury your presumption in oblivion, provided
you never hold similar discourse to me again: if you do, you may
repent of it.

Though this was a comment of some importance on my text, and
ought to have been heedfully conned over, it was no bar to my
still entertaining Mascarini's wife with my passion. I even
pressed her with more importunity than heretofore, for a kind
consent to my tender entreaties; and was rash enough to feel my
ground, by some little personal freedoms. The lady then, offended
at my words, and still more at my Mahometan quips and cranks,
gave a complete set down to my assurance. She threatened to
acquaint the grand duke with my impertinence; and declared she
would make a point of his punishing me as I deserved. These
menaces bristled up my spirit in return. My love turned at once
into hatred, and determined me to revenge myself for the contempt
with which Lucretia had treated me. I went in quest of her
husband; and after having bound him by oath not to betray me, I
informed him of his wile's correspondence with the prince, and
failed not to represent her as distractedly enamoured of him, by
way of heightening the interest of the scene. The minister, lest
the plot should become too intricately entangled, shut his wife
up, without any law but his own will, in a secret apartment,
whore he placed her under the strict guard of confidential
persons. While she was thus kept at bay by the watch-dogs of
jealousy, who prevented her from acquainting the grand duke with
her situation, I announced to that prince, with a melancholy air,
that he must think no longer of Lucretia. I told him that
Mascarini had doubtless discovered all, since he had taken it
into his head to keep a guard over his wife: that I could not
conceive what had induced him to suspect me, as I flattered
myself with having always behaved according to the most approved
rules of discretion in such cases. The lady might, I suggested,
have been beforehand, and owned all to her husband; and had
perhaps, in concert with him, suffered herself to be immured, in
order to lie hid from a pursuit so dangerous to her virtue. The
prince appeared deeply afflicted at my relation. I was not
unmoved by his distress, and repented more than once of what I
had done; but it was too late to retract. Besides, I must
acknowledge, a spiteful joy tingled in my veins, when I meditated
on the distressed condition of the disdainful fair, who had
spurned my vows.

I was feeding with impunity on the pleasure of revenge, so
palatable to all the world, but most of all to Spaniards, when
one day the grand duke, chatting with five or six nobles of his
court and myself, said to us: In what manner would you judge it
fitting for a man to be punished, who should have abused the
confidence of his prince, and designed to step in between him and
his mistress? The best way, said one of the courtiers, would be
to have him torn to pieces by four horses. Another gave it as his
verdict, that he should be soundly beaten, till he died under the
blows of the executioner. The most tender-hearted and merciful of
these Italians, with comparative lenity towards the culprit,
wished only just to admonish him of his fault, by throwing him
from the top of a tower to the bottom. And Don Raphael, resumed
the grand duke after a pause, what is his opinion? The Spaniards,
in all likelihood, would improve upon our Italian severity, is a
case of such aggravated treachery.

I fully understood, as you may well suppose, that Mascarini had
not kept his oath, or that his wife had devised the means of
acquainting the prince with what had passed between her and me.
My countenance sufficiently betokened my inward agitation. But
for all that, suppressing as well as I could my rising emotion
and alarm, I replied to the grand duke in a steady tone of voice
-- My lord, the Spaniards are more generous; under such
circumstances, they would pardon the unworthy betrayer of his
trust, and by that act of unmerited goodness would kindle in his
soul an everlasting abhorrence of his own villany. Yes, truly,
said the prince, and I fed in my own breast a similar spirit of
forbearance. Let the traitor then be pardoned; since I have
myself only to blame for having given my confidence to a man of
whom I had no knowledge, but, on the contrary, much ground of
suspicion, according to the current of common report. Don
Raphael, added he, my revenge shall be confined to this single
interdict. Quit my dominions immediately, and never appear again
in my presence. I withdrew in all haste, less hurt at my
disgrace, than delighted to have got off so cheaply. The very
next day I embarked in a Barcelona ship, just setting sail from
the port of Leghorn on its return.

At this period of his history I interrupted Don Raphael to the
following effect. For a man of shrewdness, methinks you were not
a little off your guard, in trusting yourself at Florence for
even so short a time, after having discovered the prince's love
of Lucretia to Mascarini. You might well have foreboded that the
grand duke would not be long in getting to the knowledge of your
duplicity. Your observation is very just, answered the well-
matched son of so eccentric a mother as Lucinda: and for that
reason, not trusting to the minister's promise of screening me
from his master's indignation, it had been my intention to
disappear without taking leave.

I got safe to Barcelona, continued he, with the remnant of the
wealth I had brought from Algiers; but the greater part had been
squandered at Florence in enacting the Spanish gentleman. I did
not stay long in Catalonia. Madrid was the dear place of my
nativity, and I had a longing desire to see it again, which I
satisfied as soon as possible; for mine was not a temper to stand
parleying with its own inclinations. On my arrival in town, I
chanced to take up my abode in a ready-furnished lodging, where
dwelt a lady, by name Camilla. Though at some distance from her
teens, she was a very spirit-stirring creature, as Signor Gil
Blas will hear me out in saying; for he fell in with her at
Valladolid nearly about the same time. Her parts were still more
extraordinary than her beauty; and never had a lady with a
character to let a happier talent of inveigling fools to their
ruin. But she was not like those selfish jilts, who put out the
cullibility of their lovers to usury. The pillage of the plodding
merchant, or the grave family man, was squandered upon the first
gambler or prize-fighter who happened to find his way into her
frolicsome fancy.

We loved one another from the first moment, and the conformity of
our tempers bound us so closely together, that we soon lived on
the footing of joint property. The amount, in sober sadness, was
little better than a cypher, and a few good dinners more reduced
it to that ignoble negative of number. We were each of us
thinking, as the deuce would have it, of our mutual pleasures,
without profiting in the least by those happy dispositions of
ours for living at the expense of other folks. Want at last gave
a keener edge to our wits, which indulgence had blunted. My dear
Raphael, said Camilla, let us carry the war into the enemy's
quarters, if you love me; for while we are as faithful as
turtles, we are as foolish; and fall into our own snare, instead
of laying it for the unwary. You may get into the head and heart
of a rich widow; I may conjure myself into the good graces of
some old nobleman: but as for this ridiculous fidelity, it brings
no grist to the mill. Excellent Camilla, answered I, you are
beforehand with me. I was going to make the very same proposal.
It exactly meets my ideas, thou paragon of morality. Yes; the
better to maintain our mutual fire, let us forage for substantial
fuel. As good may always be extracted out of evil, those
infidelities which are the bane of other loves, shall be the
triumph of ours.

On the basis of this treaty we took the field. At first, there
was much cry but little wool; for we had no luck at finding
cullies. Camilla met with no thing but pretty fellows, with
vanity in their hearts, tinsel on their backs, and not a maravedi
in their pockets; my ladies were all of a kidney to levy, rather
than to pay contributions. As love left us in the lurch, we paid
our devotions at the shrine of knavery. With the zeal of martyrs
to a new religion, did we encounter the frowns of the civil
power, whose myrmidons, as like the devil in their nature as
their office, were ordered on the look-out after us; but the
alguazil, with all the good qualities of which the corregidor
inherited the contraries, gave us time to make our escape out of
Madrid, for the good of the trade and a small sum of money. We
took the road to Valladolid, meaning to set up in that town. I
rented a house for myself and Camilla, who passed for my sister,
to avoid evil tongues. At first we kept a tight rein over our
speculative talents, and began by reconnoitring the ground before
we determined on our plan of operations.

One day a man accosted me in the street, with a very civil
salutation, to this effect -- Signor Don Raphael, do you
recollect my face? I answered in the negative. Then I have the
advantage of you, replied he, for yours is perfectly familiar to
me. I have seen you at the court of Tuscany, where I was then in
the grand duke's guards. It is some months since I quitted that
prince's service. I came into Spain with an Italian, who will not
discredit the politics of his country: we have been at Valladolid
these three weeks. Our residence is with a Castilian and a
Galician, who are, without dispute, two of the best creatures in
the world. We live together by the sweat of our brows, and the
labour of our hands, Our fare is not abstemious, nor have we made
any vow against the temptations of a life about the court If you
will make one of our party, my brethren will be glad of your
company; for you always seemed to me a man of spirit, above all
vulgar prejudices, in short, a monk of our order.

Such frankness from this arch-scoundrel was met half-way by mine.
Since you talk to me with so winning a candour, said I, you
deserve that I should be equally explicit with you. In good truth
I am no novice in your ritual; and if my modesty would allow me
to be the hero of my own tale, you would be convinced that your
compliments were not lavished on an unworthy subject. But enough
of my own commendations; proceed we to the point in question.
With all possible desire to become a member of your body, I shall
neglect no opportunity of proving my title to that distinction. I
had no sooner told this sharper at all points, that I would agree
to swell the number of his gang, than he conducted me to their
place of meeting, and introduced me in proper form. It was on
this occasion that I first saw the renowned Ambrose de Lamela.
These gentlemen catechised me in the religion of coveting my
neighbour's goods, and doing as I would not be done by. They
wanted to discern whether I played the villain on principle, or
had only some little practical dexterity; but I shewed them
tricks which they did not know to be on the cards, and yet
acknowledged to be better than their own. They were still deeper
lost in admiration, when in cool disdain of manual artifice, as
an every-day effort of ingenuity, I maintained my prowess in such
combinations of roguery as require an inventive brain and a solid
judgment to support them. In proof of these pretensions, I
related the adventure of Jerome de Moyadas; and on this single
specimen of my parts, they conceived my genius of so high an
order, as to elect me by common con sent for their leader. Their
choice was fully justified by a host of slippery devices, of
which I was the master-wheel, the corner-stone, or according to
whatever other metaphor in mechanics you may best express the
soul of a conspiracy. When we had occasion for a female performer
to heighten the interest, Camilla was sent upon the stage, and
played up to admiration in the parts she had to perform.

Just at that period, our friend and brother Ambrose was seized
with a longing to see his native country once more. He went for
Galicia with an assurance that we might reckon on his return. The
visit cured his patriotic sickness. As he was on the road back,
having halted at Burgos to strike some stroke of business, an
innkeeper of his acquaintance introduced him into the service of
Signor Gil Blas de Santillane, not forgetting to instruct him
thoroughly in the state of that gentleman's affairs. Signor Gil
Blas, pursued Don Raphael, addressing his discourse to me, you
know in what manner we eased you of your moveables in a ready-
furnished lodging at Valladolid; and you must doubtless have
suspected Ambrose to have been the principal contriver of that
exploit, and not without reason. On his coming into town, he ran
himself out of breath to find us, and laid open every particular
of your situation, so that the associated swindlers had nothing
to do but to build on his foundation. But you are unacquainted
with the consequences of that adventure; you shall therefore have
them on my authority. Your portmanteau was made free with by
Ambrose and myself. We also took the liberty of riding your mules
in the direction of Madrid, not dropping the least hint to
Camilla nor to our partners in iniquity, who must have partaken
in some measure of your feelings in the morning, at finding their
glory shorn of two such beams.

On the second day we changed our purpose. Instead of going to
Madrid, whence I had not sallied forth without an urgent motive,
we passed by Zebreros, and continued our journey as far as
Toledo. Our first care, in that town, was to dress ourselves in
the genteelest style; then assuming the character of two brothers
from Galicia on our travels of mere curiosity, we soon got
acquainted in the most respectable circles. I was so much in the
habit of acting the man of fashion, as not easily to be detected;
and as the generality of people are blinded by a free
expenditure, we threw dust into the eyes of all the world, by the
elegant entertainments to which we invited the ladies. Among the
women who frequented our parties, there was one not indifferent
to me. She appeared more beautiful than Camilla, and certainly
much younger. I inquired who she was; and learned that her name
was Violante, and that she was married to an ungrateful spark,
who soon grew weary of her chaste caresses, and was running after
those of a prostitute, with whom he was in love. There was no
need to say any more, to determine me on enthroning Violante the
sovereign lady and mistress of my thoughts and affections.

She was not long in coming to the knowledge of her conquest. I
began by following her about from place to place, and playing a
hundred monkey tricks to instil into her comprehension, that
nothing would please me better than the office of making her
amends for the ill usage of her husband. The pretty creature
ruminated on my proffered kindness, and to such purpose as to let
me know in the end that my labour was not wasted on an ungrateful
soil. I received a note from her in answer to several I had
transmitted by one of those convenient old dowagers, in such high
request throughout Spain and Italy. The lady sent me word that
her husband supped with his mistress every evening, and did not
return home till very late. It was impossible to mistake the
meaning of this. On that very night I planted myself under
Violante's windows, and engaged her in a most tender
conversation. At the moment of parting, it was settled between us
that every evening, at the same hour, we should meet and converse
on the same everlasting topic, without gainsaying any such other
acts of gallantry as might safely be submitted to the peering eye
of day.

Hitherto Don Balthazar, as Violante's husband was called, had no
reason to complain of his forehead; but I was a natural
philosopher, and little satisfied with metaphysical endearments.
One evening, therefore, I repaired under my lady's windows, with
the design of telling her that there was an end of life and
everything, if we could not come together on more accommodating
terms than from the balcony to the street; for I had never yet
been able to get into the house. Just as I got thither, a man
came within sight, apparently with the view of dogging me. In
fact, it was the husband returning earlier than usual from his
precious bit of amusement; but observing a male nuisance near his
nunnery, instead of coming straight home, he walked backwards and
forwards in the street. It was almost a moot point with me what I
ought to do. At last, I resolved on accosting Don Balthazar,
though neither of us had the slightest knowledge of each other.
Noble gentleman, said I, you would do me a most particular favour
by leaving the street vacant to me for this one night; I would do
as much for you another time. Sir, answered he, I was just going
to make the same request to you. I am on the look-out after a
girl, over whom a confounded fellow of a brother keeps watch and
ward like a gaoler; and she lives not twenty yards from this
place. I could wish to carry on my project without a witness. We
have the means, replied I, of attaining both our ends without
clashing; for the lady of my desires lives there, added I,
pointing to his own house. We had better even help one another,
in case of being attacked. With all my heart, resumed he; I will
go to my appointment, and we will make common cause if need be.
Under this pretence he went away, but only to observe me the more
narrowly; and the darkness of the night favoured his doing so
without detection.

As for me, I made up to Violante's balcony in the simplicity of
my heart. She soon heard my signal, and we began our usual
parley. I was not remiss in pressing the idol of my worship to
grant me a private interview in some safe and practicable place.
She was rather coy to my entreaties, as favours hardly earned are
the higher valued: at length she took a letter out of her pocket,
and flung it down to me. There, said she, you will find in that
scrap of paper the promise of what you have teased me so long
about. She then withdrew, as the hour approached when her husband
usually came home. I put the note up carefully, and went towards
the place where Don Balthazar had told me that his business lay.
But that staunch husband, with the sagacity of an old sportsman
where his own wife was the game, came more than half-way to meet
me, with this question: Well, good sir, are you satisfied with
your happy fortunes? I have reason to be so, answered I. And as
for yourself, what have you done? has the blind god befriended
you? Alas! quite the contrary, replied he; that impertinent
brother, who takes such liberties with my beauty, thought fit to
come back from his country house, whence we hugged ourselves as
sure that he would not return till to-morrow. This infernal
chance has put all my soft and soothing pleasures out of tune.

Nothing could exceed the mutual pledges of lasting friendship
which were exchanged between Don Balthazar and me. To draw the
cords the closer, we made an appointment for the next morning in
the great square. This plotting gentleman, after we had parted,
betook himself to his own house, without giving Violante at all
to understand that he knew more about her than she wished him. On
the following day he was punctual in the great square, and I was
not five minutes after him. We exchanged greetings with all the
warmth of old friendship; but it was a vapour to mislead on his
part, though a spark of heavenly flame on mine. In the course of
conversation, this hypocritical Don Balthazar palmed upon me a
fictitious confidence, respecting his intrigue with the lady
about whom he had been speaking the night before. He put together
a long story he had been manufacturing on that subject, and all
this to hook me in to tell him, in return, by what means I had
got acquainted with Violante. The snare was too subtle for me to
escape; I owned all with the innocence of a new-born babe. I did
not even stick at shewing the note I had received from her, and
read the contents, to the following purport: "I am going to-
morrow to dine with Donna Inez. You know where she lives. It is
in the house of that confidential friend that I mean to pass some
happy moments along with you. It is impossible longer to refuse a
boon your patience has so well merited."

Here indeed, said Don Balthazar, is an epistle which promises to
crown all your wishes at once. I congratulate you beforehand on
your approaching happiness. He could not help fidgeting and
wriggling a little, while he talked in these terms of his own
household; but all his hitches and wry faces passed off, and my
eyes were as fast sealed as ever. I was so full of anticipating
titillations, as not to think of noticing my new friend, who was
obliged to get off as fast as be could, for fear of betraying his
agitation in my presence. He ran to acquaint his brother-in-law
with this strange occurrence. I know not what might pass between
them: it is only certain that Don Balthazar happened to knock at
Donna Inca's door, just when I was at that lady's house with
Violante. We were warned who it was, and I escaped by a back door
exactly as he went in at the front As soon as I had got safe off,
the women, whom the unexpected visit of this troublesome husband
had disconcerted a little, recovered their presence of mind, and
with it so large a stock of assurance, as to stand the brunt of
his attack, and put him to a nonplus in ascertaining whether they
had hid me or smuggled me out. I cannot exactly tell you what he
said to Donna Inca and his wife; nor do I believe that history
will ever furnish any authentic particulars of the squabble.

In the mean time, without suspecting yet how completely I was
gulled by Don Balthazar, I sallied forth with curses in my mouth,
and returned to the great square, where I had appointed Lamela to
meet me. But no Lamela was there. He also had his little snug
parties, and the scoundrel fared better than his comrade. As I
was waiting for him, I caught a glimpse of my treacherous
associate, with a knowing smile upon his countenance. He made up
to me, and inquired, with a hearty laugh, what news of my
assignation with my nymph, under the convenient roof of Donna
Inca. I cannot conceive, said I, what evil spirit, jealous of my
joys, takes delight to nip them in their blossom: but after we
had embraced, kissed, protested, and, as it were, spoke the
prologue of our comedy, comes the peaking cornuto of a husband
(the furies fly away with him), and knocks at the door in the
instant of our encounter. There was nothing to be done but to
secure my retreat as fast as possible. So I got out at a back
door, sending to all the inhabitants of hell and its suburbs the
jealous knave, who was so uncivil as to search another lady's
house for his own horns. I am sorry you sped so ill-favouredly,
exclaimed Don Balthazar, who was chuckling with in ward
satisfaction at my disappointment. What a mechanical rogue of a
husband! I would advise you to shew no mercy to the wittol. Oh!
you need not teach me how to predominate over such a peasant,
replied I. Take my word for it, a new quarter shall be added to
his coat of arms this very night. His wife, when I went away,
told me not to be faint-hearted for such a trifle; but to place
myself without fail under her windows at an earlier hour than
usual, for she was resolved to let me into the house; and as a
precaution against all accidents, she begged me to bring two or
three friends in my train, for fear of a surprise. What a
discreet and inventive lady! said he. I should have no objection
to being of your party. Ah! my dear friend, exclaimed I, out of
wits with joy, and throwing my arms about Don Balthazar's neck,
how infinitely you will oblige me! I will do more, resumed he; I
know a young man, armed like another Caesar, for either field of
love or war; he shall be of our number, and you may then rely
boldly on the sufficiency of your escort.

I knew not in what words to thank this seeming friend, so that my
gratitude might be equivalent to his zeal. To make short of the
matter, I accepted his proffered aid. Our meeting was fixed under
Violante's balcony early in the evening, and we parted. He went
in quest of his brother-in-law, who was the hero in question. As
for me, I walked about all day with Lamela, who had no more
misgivings than myself, though somewhat astonished at the warmth
with which Don Balthazar engaged in my interests. We slipt our
own necks completely into the noose. I own this was mere
infatuation on our parts, whose natural instinct ought to have
warned us of a halter. When I thought it proper time to present
myself under Violante's windows, Ambrose and I took care to be
armed with small swords. There we found the husband of my fair
dame and another man, waiting for us with a very determined air.
Don Balthazar accosted me, and introducing his brother-in-law,
said: Sir, this is the brave officer whose prowess I have
extolled so highly to you. Make the best of your way into your
mistress's house, and let no fear of the consequences be any bar
to the enjoyment of the most rapturous human bliss.

After a mutual interchange of compliments, I knocked at
Violante's door. It was opened by a kind of duenna. In I went,
and without looking back after what was passing behind me, made
the best of my way to the lady's room. While I was paying her my
preliminary civilities, the two cut-throats, who had followed me
into the house, and had banged the door after them so violently
that Ambrose was left in the street, made their appearance. You
may well suppose that then was the appeal to arms. They both fell
upon me at the same time, but I shewed them some play. I kept
them engaged on either side so fiercely, that they were sorry
perhaps not to have taken a safer road to their revenge. The
husband was run through the body. His brother-in-law, seeing him
on his travels to the shades below, made the best of his way to
the door, which the duenna and Violante had opened, to make their
escape while we were fighting. I ran after him into the street,
where I met with Lamela once more, who by dint of not being able
to get a word out of the women, running as they did for their
very lives, did not know exactly what he was to divine from the
infernal noise he had just heard. We got back to our inn. After
packing up what was best worth taking with us, we mounted our
mules, and got out of town, without waiting for daybreak or fear
of robbers.

It was sufficiently clear that this business was not likely to be
without its consequences, and that a hue and cry would be set up
in Toledo, which we should act like wise men to anticipate by a
retreat. We stayed the night at Vilarubia. At the inn where we
put up, some time after our arrival, there alighted a tradesman
of Toledo on his way to Segorba. We clubbed our suppers. He
related to us the tragical catastrophe of Violante's husband; and
so far was he from suspecting us of being parties concerned, that
we inquired into particulars with the curious indifference of
common newsmongers. Gentlemen, said he, just as I was setting out
this morning, the report of this melancholy event was handed
about. Every one was on the hunt after Violante; and they say
that the corregidor, a relation of Don Balthazar, is determined
on sparing no pains to discover the perpetrators of this murder.
So much for my knowledge of the business.

The corregidor of Toledo and his police gave me very little
uneasiness. But for fear of the worst, I determined to
precipitate my retreat from New Castile. It occurred to me that
Violante, when hunted out of her hiding-place, would turn
informer, and in that case she might give such a description of
my person to the clerks in office as might enable them to put
their scouts upon a right scent. For this reason, on the
following day we struck out of the high road, as a measure of
safety. Fortunately Lamela was acquainted with three-fourths of
Spain, and knew by what cross paths we could get securely into
Arragon. Instead of going straight to Cuenзa, we threaded the
defiles of the mountains overhanging that town, and arrived, by
ways with which my guide was well acquainted, at a grotto looking
very much like a hermitage. In fact, it was the very place
whither you came yesterday evening to petition me for an asylum.

While I was reconnoitring the neighbourhood, which presented a
most delicious landscape to my view, my companion said to me, It
is six years since I travelled this way. At that time the grotto
before us afforded a retreat to an old hermit who entertained me
charitably. He made me fare as he did. I remember that he was a
holy man, and talked in such a strain as almost to wean me from
the vices and follies of this nether world. He may possibly be
still living; I will ascertain whether it be so or not. With
these words in his mouth, Ambrose, under the influence of natural
curiosity, alighted from his mule, and went into the hermitage.
He remained there some minutes, and then returned, calling after
me, and saying, Come hither, Don Raphael, come and bear witness
to a most affecting event. I dismounted immediately. We tied our
mules to a tree, and I followed Lamela into the grotto, where I
descried an old anchoret stretched at his length upon a couch,
pale and at the point of death. A white beard, very thick, hung
down to his middle, and he held a large rosary, most piously
ornamented, in his clasped hands. At the noise which we made in
coming near him, he opened his eyes, upon which death had already
begun to lay his leaden hand; and after having looked at us for a
moment, said, "Whosoever you are, my brethren, profit by the
spectacle which presents itself to your observation. I have seen
out forty years in the world, and sixty in this solitude. But
mark! At this eternal crisis, the time I have devoted to my
pleasures seems an age, and that on the contrary which has been
sacred to repentance, but a minute! Alas! I fear lest the
austerities of brother Juan should be found light in the balance
with the sins of the licentiate Don Juan de Solis."

No sooner were these words out of his mouth than he breathed his
last. We were struck by the solemn scene. Objects of this kind
always make some impression even on the greatest libertines; but
our serious thoughts were of no long duration. We soon forgot
what he had been saying to us, and begun making an inventory of
what the hermitage contained; an employment which was not
oppressively laborious, since the household furniture extended no
further than what you remarked in the grotto. Brother Juan was
not only in ill-furnished lodgings; his kitchen, too, was in a
very rustic plight All the store laid in consisted of some small
nuts and some pieces of crusty barley bread as hard as flint,
which had all the appearance of having been impregnable to the
gums of the venerable man. I specify his gums, because we looked
for his teeth, and found they had all dropped out. The whole
arrangement of this solitary abode, every object that met our
eyes, made us look upon this good anchoret as a pattern of
sanctity. One thing only staggered us in our opinion. We opened a
paper folded in the form of a letter, and lying upon the table,
wherein he besought the person who should read the contents, to
carry his rosary and sandals to the bishop of Cuenзa. We could
not make out in what spirit this modern recluse of the desert
could aim at making such a present to his bishop. It seemed to us
to tread somewhat on the heels of his humility, and to savour of
one who was a candidate for a niche in the calendar. Though
indeed it might be, that there was nothing in it but a simple
supposition, that the bishop was such another as himself; but
whether his ignorance was really so extreme, I shall not pretend
to decide.

In talking over this subject, a very pleasant idea occurred to
Lamela. Let us take up our abode, said he, in this holy retreat.
The disguise of hermits will become us. Brother Juan must be laid
quietly in the earth. You shall personate him; and for myself, in
the character of brother Anthony, I will go and see what is to be
done in the neighbouring towns and villages. Besides that we
shall be too cunningly ensconced for the prying curiosity of the
corregidor, since it is not to be supposed that he will think of
coming hither to look for us, I have some good connections at
Cuenзa, which may be of essential service to us. I fell in with
this odd whim, not so much for the reasons given me by Ambrose,
as in compliance with the humour of the thing, and as it were to
play a part in a dramatic piece. We made an excavation in the
ground at about thirty or forty yards from the grotto, and buried
the old anchoret there without any pompous rites, after having
stripped him of his wardrobe, which consisted of a single gown
tied round the middle with a leathern girdle. We likewise
despoiled him of his beard to make me an artificial one: and
finally, after his interment, we took possession of the
hermitage.

The first day our table was but meanly served; the provisions of
the deceased were all we had to feed on; but on the following
morning, before sunrise, Lamela set off to sell the two mules at
Toralva, and returned in the evening, laden with provisions and
other articles which he had purchased. He brought everything
necessary to metamorphose us completely. For himself he had
provided a gown of coarse dark cloth, and a little red horse-hair
beard, so ingeniously appended to his ears, that one would have
sworn it had been natural. There is not a cleverer fellow in the
universe for a frolic. Brother Juan's beard was also new-
modelled, and adapted to the plumpness of my face. My brown
woollen cap completed the masquerade. In fact, nothing was
wanting to make us pass for what we were not. Our equipage was so
ludicrously out of character, that we could not look at one
another without laughing, under a garb so diametrically at
variance with our general complexion. With brother Juan's mantle,
I caught and kept his rosary and sandals; taking the liberty of
borrowing them for the time being from the bishop of Cuenзa.

We had already been three days in the hermitage, without having
been interrupted by a living soul; but on the fourth, two
countrymen came into the grotto. They brought bread, cheese, and
onions, for the deceased, whom they supposed to be still living.
I threw myself on our miserable couch as soon as they made their
appearance; and it was not difficult to impose on them. Besides
that it was too dark to distinguish my features accurately, I
imitated the voice of brother Juan, whose last words I had heard,
to the best of my ability. They had no suspicion of the trick,
though a good deal surprised at finding another hermit there.
Lamela, taking advantage of their stupid wonder, said in a
canting tone: My brethren, be not astonished at seeing me in this
solitude. I have quitted a hermitage of my own in Arragon, to
come hither and be a companion to the venerable and edifying
brother Juan, who, at his advanced age, wants a yoke-fellow to
administer to his necessities. The rustics lavished their clumsy
panegyrics on the charity of Ambrose, and congratulated
themselves that they might triumph over their neighbours, and
boast of two holy personages residing in their country.

Lamela, laden with a large wallet which he had not forgotten
among the number of his purchases, went for the first time to
reconnoitre the town of Cuenзa, which is but a very short
distance from the hermitage. With a mortified exterior, by which
nature had dubbed him for a cheat, and the art of making that
natural deception go as far as possible, by a most hypocritical
and factitious array of features, he could not fail to play upon
the feelings of the charitable and humane, and those whom heaven
has blessed with affluence. His knapsack bore testimony to the
extravagance of their pious liberalities. Master Ambrose, said. I
on his return, I congratulate you on your happy knack at
softening the souls of all good Christians. As we hope to be
saved! one would suppose that you had been a mendicant friar
among the Capuchins. I have done something else besides bringing
in food for the convent, answered he. You must know that I have
ferreted out a certain lass called Barbara, with whom I used to
flirt formerly. She is as much altered as any of us: for she also
has addicted herself to a godly life. She forms a coterie with
two or three other sanctified dames, who are an example to the
faithful in public, and flounce over head and ears in every sort
of private vice. She did not know me again at first. What then,
mistress Barbara, said I, is it possible that you should have
discharged one of your oldest friends from your remembrance, your
servant Ambrose? As I am a true Christian, Signor de Lamela,
exclaimed she, I never thought to have turned you up in such a
garb as that. By what transformation are you become a hermit?
This is more than I can tell you just now, rejoined I. The
particulars are rather long; but I will come to morrow evening
and satisfy your curiosity. Nay, more; I will bring brother Juan,
my companion, along with me. Brother Juan, interrupted she, the
venerable hermit who has taken up his saintly residence near this
town? You do not know what you are saying; he is supposed to be
more than a hundred years old. It is very true, said I, that he
was of that age some little while ago; but time; in deference to
his sanctity, has gone backward with him; and he is grown
considerably younger within these few days. He is at present just
about my turn of life. Say you so! Then let us have him too,
replied Barbara. I perceive there is something more in this
mystery than the church will be able to explain.

We did not miss our appointment with these whited sepulchres on
the following night To make our reception the more agreeable,
they had laid out a sumptuous entertainment. Off went our beards
and cowls, and vestments of mortification; and without any
squeamishness we confessed our birth, education, and real
character, to these sisters in hypocrisy. On their part, for fear
of being behindhand with us in freedom from prejudice, they
fairly let us see of what pretended religionists are capable,
when they drop the veil of the sanctuary, and exhibit their
unmanufactured faces. We spent almost the whole night at table,
and got back to our grotto but a moment before daybreak. We were
not long in repeating our visit; or, if the truth must be told,
it was nightly for three months; till we had ate up more than
two-thirds of our ways and means in the company of these delicate
creatures. But an unsuccessful candidate for their favour got
wind of our proceedings, and prated of our whereabout in the ear
of justice, which was to have been in motion towards the
hermitage this very day, to lay hold of our persons. Yesterday
Ambrose, while picking up eleemosynary at Cuenзa, stumbled upon
one of our whining sisterhood, who gave him a note, with this
caution: A female friend of mine has written me this letter,
which I was going to send to you by a man on purpose. Shew it to
brother Juan, and regulate your proceedings accordingly. It was
this very note, gentlemen, that Lamela gave me in your presence,
which occasioned us to take so abrupt a leave of our solitary
dwelling.



 

CH. II -- Don Raphael's consultation with his company, and their
adventures as they were preparing to leave the wood.


WHEN Don Raphael had finished the narrative of his adventurous
life, which, with all the other qualities of a romance, had the
tediousness, Don Alphonso, according to the laws of good
breeding, swore himself black in the face that he had been
prodigiously entertained. After the usual exchange of
compliments, Signor Ambrose put in his oar, with an admonitory
hint to the partner of his exploits and peregrinations. Consider,
Don Raphael, that the sun is setting. It would not be amiss,
methinks, to take counsel on what we are to do. You are in the
right, answered his comrade, we must determine on the place of
our destination. For my own part, replied Lamela, I am of opinion
that we should get upon the road again without loss of time,
reach Requena to-night, and enter upon the territory of Valencia
to-morrow, where we will go to work full tilt at our old trade. I
have some prognosticating twitches, which tell me that we shall
strike some good strokes in that quarter. His colleague, from
ample experience of his infallibility in such prophecies, voted
on his side of the question. As for Don Alphonso and myself,
having nothing to do but to follow the lead of these two worthy
gentlemen, we waited, in silent acquiescence, the issue of this
momentous debate.

Thus it was determined that we should take the direction of
Requena; and all hands were piped to make the necessary
arrangements. We made our meal after the same fashion as in the
morning, and the horse was laden with the bottle, and with the
remnant of our provisions. After a time, the approach of night
seemed to promise us that darkness so friendly, and even so
necessary, to the safety of our retreat; and we were beginning
our march through the wood: but before we had gone a hundred
paces, a light among the trees gave us a subject of anxious
speculation. What can be the meaning of that? said Don Raphael;
these surely must be blood-hounds of the police from Cuenзa,
uncoupled and eager for the sport, with a fresh scent of us in
this forest, and in full cry after their game. I am of a very
different opinion, said Ambrose; they are more likely to be
benighted travellers taking shelter in the thicket till daybreak.
But there is no trusting to conjecture: I will examine into the
real truth. Stay you here all three of you; I will be back again
instantly. No sooner said than done; he stole, just as if he had
been used to it, towards the light, which was not far off; no
brute or human thief of forest or city could have done it better.
With a gentle removal of the leaves and branches which obstructed
his passage, the whole scene was laid open to his silent
contemplation; and it afforded sufficient food. On the grass,
round about a lighted candle with a clod for its candlestick,
were seated four men, just finishing a meat pie, and hugging a
pretty large bottle, which was at its last gasp, after having
sustained their alternate embraces for successive rounds. At some
paces from these gentry, he espied a lady and gentleman tied to
the trees, and a little further off, a carriage with two mules
richly caparisoned. He determined at once in his own mind that
the fellows carousing on the ground were banditti; and the tenor
of their talk assured him that he had not belied their trade by
his conjecture. The four cut-throats all avowed a like desire of
possessing the female who had fallen into their hands; and they
were proposing to draw lots for her. Lamela, having made himself
master of the business, came back to us, and gave an exact
account of all he had seen and heard.

My friends, said Don Alphonso on his recital, that lady and
gentleman whom the robbers have tied to trees, are probably
persons of the first condition. Shall we suffer scoundrels like
these to triumph over their honour and take away their lives? Put
yourselves under my direction: let us assail the desperate
outlaws, and they will perish under our attack. With all my
heart, said Don Raphael. It is all one to me, I had just as soon
engage on the right side as on the wrong. Ambrose, for his part,
protested that he wished for nothing better than to lend a hand
in so moral an enterprise, as it promised to combine much profit
with some share of honour. And indeed, if a man may speak a good
word for himself, danger stood better recommended than usual to
my comprehension; all the boiling courage of knighthood, pledged
up to the knuckles of the chin on the behalf of female innocence,
was oozing out at every pore of this chivalrous person. But, if
we are to state facts in the spirit of history rather than of
romance, the danger was more in imagination than in reality.
Lamela having brought us word that the arms of the robbers were
all piled up at the distance of ten or twelve paces out of their
reach, there was no difficulty in securing the mastery of the
field. We tied our horses to a tree, and drew near, as softly as
possible, to the spot where the robbers were seated. They were
debating with some impetuosity, and their vociferous argument was
all in favour of our covert attack. We got possession of their
arms before they had any suspicion of us. But the enemy was
nearer than they imagined: too near to miss aim, and they were
all stretched lifeless on the ground.

During the conflict the candle went out, so that we proceeded in
our business by guess-work. We were not remiss, however, in
unbinding the prisoners, of whom fear had got such complete
possession, that they had not their wits enough about them to
thank us for what we had done for them. It must be allowed that
they could not at first distinguish whether they were to consider
us as their deliverers, or as a fresh gang who had taken them out
of one furnace to cast them hissing into another. But we
recovered their spirits by the assurance, that we should lodge
them safely in a public-house which Ambrose mentioned as not
being more than half a mile off, whence they might take all
necessary measures to pursue their journey in whatever direction
they thought proper. After these words of comfort, which seemed
to sink deep, we placed them in their carriage, and conducted
them out of the wood, holding their mules by the bridle. Our
clerical friends instituted a ghostly visitation to the pockets
of the vanquished banditti. Our next step was to recover Don
Alphonso's horse. We also took to ourselves the steeds of the
robbers, waiting as they were to be released from the trees to
which they were tied near the field of battle. With this
extensive cavalcade we followed brother Anthony, mounted on one
of the mules, and conducting the carriage to the inn, whither we
did not arrive in less than two hours, though he had pledged his
credit that the distance from the wood was very short.

We knocked roughly at the door. Every living creature was
napping, except the fleas. The landlord and landlady got on their
clothes in a hurry, and were not at all annoyed at finding their
rest disturbed by the arrival of an equipage, which promised to
do more for the good of the house than it eventually did. The
whole inn was lighted up in an instant. Don Alphonso and the
stage-bred son of Lucinda lent their assistance to the gentleman
and lady in alighting from the carriage, and acted as their
ushers in leading the way to the room prepared for them by the
landlord. Compliments flew backwards and forwards like
shuttlecocks; but we were not a little astonished at discovering
the Count de Polan himself and his daughter Seraphina, in the
persons we had just rescued. It would be difficult to represent
by words the surprise of that lady, as well as of Don Alphonso,
when they recognized each other's features. The count took no
notice of it, his attention being engrossed by other matters. He
set about relating to us in what manner the robbers had attacked
him, and how they secured his daughter and himself, after having
killed his postilion, a page, and a valet-de-chambre. He ended
with declaring how deeply he felt his obligation; and that if we
would call upon him at Toledo, where he should be in a month, we
should judge for ourselves whether he felt as a grateful heart
ought to feel.

His lordship's daughter was not backward in her acknowledgments
for her timely rescue; and as we were of opinion, that is,
Raphael and myself, that we should do a good turn to Don Alphonso
by giving him an opportunity of a minute's private parley with
the young widow, we contrived to keep the Count de Polan in play.
Lovely Seraphina, said Don Alphonso to the lady in a low voice, I
no longer lament over the lot which obliges me to live like a man
banished from civil society, since I have been so fortunate as to
assist in the important service just rendered you. What then!
answered she, with a sigh, is it you who have saved my life and
honour? Is it to you that we are so indebted, myself equally with
my father? Ah! Don Alphonso, why were you the instrument of my
brother's death? She said no more upon the subject; but he
conceived clearly by these words, and by the tone in which they
were pronounced, that if he was over head and ears in love with
Seraphina, she was equally out of her depth in the same passion.



 

 

 





BOOK THE SIXTH.


CH. I. -- The fate of Gil Blas and his Companions after they
took leave of the Count de Polan. One of Ambrose's notable
contrivances set off by the manner of its execution.

THE Count de Polan, after having exhausted half the night in
thanking us, and protesting that we might reckon upon his
substantial acknowledgments, sent for the landlord to consult him
on the best method of getting safely to Turis, whither it was his
intention to go. We had nothing to do with this nobleman's
further progress, and therefore left him to take his own
measures. Our departure from the inn was now resolved on; and we
followed Lamela like sheep after the bell-wether.

After two hours' travelling, the day overtook us near Campillo.
We made as expeditiously as possible for the mountains between
that hamlet and Requena. There we wore out the day in taking our
rest and reckoning up our stock, which the spoil of the robbers
had considerably replenished, to the amount of more than three
hundred pistoles, the lawful ravage of their pockets. We began
our march again with the setting-in of the night; and on the
following morning reached the frontier of Valencia in safety. We
got quietly into the first wood that offered as a shelter. The
inmost recesses of it were best suited to our purpose, and led us
on by winding paths to a spot where a rivulet of transparent
water was meandering in its slow and silent course, to
incorporate with the waters of Guadalaviar. The refreshing shade
afforded by the foliage, and the rich pasturage in which our
toil-won beasts so much delighted, would have fixed this for the
place of our halting, if our resolution had not been previously
taken to that effect.

We therefore alighted, and were preparing to pass the day very
pleasantly, but a good breakfast was amongst the foremost of our
intended pleasures; and we found that there was very little
ammunition left. Bread was beginning to be a nonentity; and our
bottle was becoming an evidence of the material system, mere
carnal leather without a vivifying soul. Gentlemen, said Ambrose,
scenery and the picturesque have but hungry charms for me, unless
Bacchus and Ceres preside over the landscape. Our provisions must
be lengthened out. For this purpose, away post I to Xelva. It is
a very pretty town, not more than two leagues off. I shall soon
make this little excursion. Speaking after this manner, he slung
the bottle and the wallet over a horse's back, leaped merrily
into his seat, and shot out of the wood with a rapidity which
seemed to bid fair for a speedy return,

He did not, however, come back quite so soon as he had given us
reason to expect. More than half the day had elapsed; nay, night
herself was already pranking up her dun and gloomy wings, to
overshadow the thicket with a denser horror, when we saw our
purveyor once again, whose long stay was beginning to give us
some uneasiness. Our extreme wishes were lame and impotent,
compared with the abundance of his stores. He not only produced
the bottle filled with some excellent wine, and the wallet
stuffed with game and poultry ready dressed, to say nothing of
bread; the horse was laden besides with a large bundle of stuffs,
of which we could make neither head nor tail. He took notice of
our wonder, and said with a smile: I will lay a wager, neither
Don Raphael nor all the colleges of soothsayers upon earth can
guess why I have bought these articles. With this fling at our
dulness, we untied the bundle, and lectured on the intrinsic
value of what we had been considering only as an empty pageant.
In the inventory was a cloak and a black gown of trailing
dimensions; doublets, breeches, and hose to correspond; an
inkstand and writing paper, such as a secretary of state need not
be ashamed of; a key, such as a treasurer might carry; a great
seal and green wax, such as a chancellor might affix to his
decrees. When he had at length exhausted the display of his
bargains, Don Raphael observed in a bantering tone -- Faith and
troth, Master Ambrose, it must be confessed that you have made a
good sensible speculation. But pray, how do you mean to turn the
penny on your purchase? Let me alone for that, answered Lamela.
All these things cost me only ten pistoles, and it shall go hard
but they bring us in above five hundred. The tens in five hundred
are fifty; a good improvement of money, my masters! I am not a
man to burden myself with a trumpery pedlar's pack; and to prove
to you that I have not been making ducks and drakes of our joint
stock, I will let you into the secret of a plan which has just
taken birth in my pericranium.

After having laid in my stock of bread, I went into a cook's
shop, where I ordered a range of partridges, chickens, and young
rabbits, half-a-dozen of each, to be put instantly on the spit.
While these relishing little articles were roasting, in came a
man in a violent passion, open-mouthed against the coarse conduct
of a tradesman to his consequential self. This faggot of fury
observed to the lord paramount of the dripping-pan: By St James!
Samuel Simon is the most wrong-headed retail dealer in the town
of Xelva. He has just insulted me in his own shop before his
customers. The skinflint would not trust me for six ells of
cloth, though he knows very well that my credit is as good as the
bank, and that no one could say he ever lost anything by me. Are
not you delighted with the outlandish monster? He has no
objection to getting people of fashion on his books. He had
rather toss up heads or tails with them, than oblige a plain
citizen in an honest way, and be paid in full at the time
appointed. What a strange whim! But he is an infernal Jew. He
will be taken in some day or other! All the merchants on the
Exchange are lying in wait to catch him upon the hip; and his
disgrace or ruin will be nuts to me.

While this reptile of the warehouse was thus spitting his spite
and blurting out many other ill-natured innuendoes, there came
over me a sort of astrological anticipation that I should be lord
of the ascendant over this Samuel Simon. My friend, said I to the
man who was complaining against that hawker of damaged goods, of
what character is the strange fellow you are talking about? Of a
confoundedly bad character, answered he in a pet, Depend on it,
he is one of the most extortionate usurers in existence, though
with the affectation of not letting his left hand know what his
right gives away in charity. He was a Jew, and has turned
Catholic; but rip your way into his heart if he has any, and you
will find him still as inveterate a Jew as ever Pilate was. As
for his conversion it was all in the way of trade.

I took in with greedy ear the whole invective of the shop-keeping
declaimant, and failed not, on coming out of the eating-house, to
inquire for Samuel Simon's residence. A person directed me to the
part of the town, and there was no difficulty in finding out the
house. It was not enough to skim my eye cursorily over his shop.
I peered into every hole and corner of it; and my imagination,
always on the alert when any profit is to be picked up, has
already engendered a rogue's trick, which only waits the period
of gestation, when it may turn out a bantling not unworthy to be
fathered by the sanctimonious servant of Signor Gil Blas.
Straightway went I to the ready-made warehouse, where I bought
these dresses, into which we may stuff an inquisitor, a notary,
and an alguazil, and play the parts in the spirit of the solemn
offices they represent.

Ah! my dear Ambrose, interrupted Don Raphael, transported with
rapture at the suggestion, what a wonderful idea! a glorious
scheme indeed! I am quite jealous of the contrivance. Willingly
would I blot out the proudest quarter from my escutcheon, to have
owned an effort of genius so transcendent. Yes, Lamela, I see, my
friend, all the rich invention of the design, and you need be at
no loss for instruments to carry it into effect. You want two
good actors to play up to you; and you have not far to look for
them. You have yourself a face that can look sanctified,
magisterial, or blood-thirsty at will, and may do very well to
represent the inquisition. My character shall be that of the
notary; and Signor Gil Blas, if he pleases, may enact the
alguazil. Thus are the persons of the drama distributed: to-
morrow we will play the piece, and I will pledge myself for its
success, bating one of those unlucky chance medleys, which turn
awry the currents of the most pithy and momentous enterprises.

As yet Don Raphael's masterpiece of roguery had made but a clumsy
impression on my plodding brain; but the argument of the fable
was developed at supper-time, and the hinge upon which it turned
was, to my mind, of an ingenious contrivance. After having
despatched part of our game, and bled our bottle to the last
stage of evacuation, we stretched our length upon the grass, and
soon fell fast asleep. Up with you! up with you! was the alarum
of Signor Ambrose, as the day begun to dawn. People who have a
great enterprise on hand ought not to indulge themselves in
indolence. A plague upon you, master inquisitor, said Don
Raphael, rubbing his eyes, you are confounded early on the move!
It is as good as an order for execution to master Samuel Simon.
Many a true word is spoken in jest, replied Lamela. Nay, you
shall know more, added he with a sarcastic grin. I dreamt last
night that I was plucking the hairs out of his beard. Was not
that a left-handed dream for him, master secretary? These
pleasant hits were followed by a thousand others, which called
forth new bursts of merriment. Our breakfast passed off with the
utmost gaiety; and when it was over, we made our arrangements for
the pageant we had got up. Ambrose arrayed himself in sables, as
befitted so ghostly an instrument for the suppression of vice. We
also took to our official habits; nor has the dignity of
magistracy been often more gravely represented than by Don
Raphael and myself. The making up of our persons was rather a
tedious operation; for it was later than two o' clock in the
afternoon when we sallied from the wood to attend our call at
Xelva. It is true, there was no hurry, since the play was not to
begin till the setting-in of the evening. That being the case, we
jogged on leisurely, and stopped at the gates of the town till
the day was closed.

At that eventful hour, we left our horses where they were, to the
care of Don Alphonso, who was very well satisfied to have so
humble a cast in the distribution. As for Don Raphael, Ambrose,
and myself, our first visit was not to Samuel Simon in person,
but to a tavern-keeper who lived very near him. His reverence the
inquisitor walked foremost. In went he to the bar; and said
gravely to the landlord: Master, I want to speak a word with you
in private. The obsequious publican shewed us into a room, where
Lamela, now that we had got him to ourselves, said: I have the
honour to be an unworthy member of the holy office, and am come
here on a business of very great importance. At this intimation,
the man of liquor turned pale, and answered in a tremulous tone
that he was not conscious of having given any umbrage to the holy
inquisition. True, replied Ambrose with encouraging affability;
neither do we meditate any harm against you. Heaven forbid, that
august tribunal, too hasty in its punishments, should make no
distinction between guilt and innocence. It is unrelenting, but
always just: to become obnoxious to its vengeance, you must have
earned its displeasure by wickedness or contumacy. Be satisfied
therefore that it is not you who bring me to Xelva, but a certain
dealer and chapman, by name Samuel Simon. A very ugly story about
him has come round to us. He is still a Jew in his heart, they
say; and has only embraced Christianity from sordid and secular
motives. I command you, in the name of the tremendous court I
represent, to tell me all you know about that man. Beware how you
are induced by good neighbourhood, or possibly by close
friendship, to gloss over and palliate his errors; for, I warn
you authoritatively, if I detect the slightest prevarication in
your evidence, you are yourself even as one of the abandoned and
accursed. Where is my secretary? pursued he, turning down towards
Don Raphael. Sit down and do your duty.

Mr Secretary, with his paper already in his hand and his pen
behind his ear, took his seat most pompously, and made ready to
take down the landlord's deposition; who promised solemnly on his
part not to suppress one tittle of the real fact. So far, so
good! said the worshipful commissioner; we have only to proceed
in our examination. You will only just answer my questions; but
do not interlard your replies with any comments of your own. Do
you often see Samuel Simon at church? I never thought of looking
for him, said the drawer of corks; but I do not know that I ever
saw him there in my life. Very good! cried the inquisitor. Write
down that the defendant never goes to church. I do not say so,
your worship, answered the landlord, I only say that I never
happened to see him there. We may have been at church together
and yet not have come across each other. My good friend, replied
Lamela, you forget that you are deposing to facts, and not
arguing. Remember what I told you; contempt of court is a heinous
offence. You are to give a sound and discreet evidence; every
iota of what makes against him, and not a word in his favour, if
you knew volumes. If that is your practice, O upright and
impartial judge, resumed our host, my testimony will scarcely be
worth the trouble of taking. I know nothing about the tradesman
you are inquiring after; and therefore can tell neither good nor
harm of him: but if you wish to examine into the history of his
private life, I will run and call Gaspard, his apprentice, whom
you may question as much as you please. The lad comes and takes
his glass here sometimes with his friends. Bless us, what a
tongue! He will rip up all the minutest actions of his master's
life, and find employment for your secretary till his wrist
aches, take my word for it.

I like your open dealing, said Ambrose with a nod of approbation.
To point out a man so capable of speaking to the bad morals of
Simon, is an instance of Christian charity as well as of
religious zeal. I shall report you very favourably to the
inquisition. Make haste, therefore; go and fetch this Gaspard, of
whom you speak; but do the thing cautiously, so that his master
may have no suspicion of what is going forward. The multiplier of
scores acquitted himself of his commission with due diligence and
laudable privacy. Our little shopman came along with him. The
youth had a tongue with a tang, and was just the sort of fellow
that we wanted. Welcome, my good young man! said Lamela, You
behold in me an inquisitor, appointed by that venerable body to
collect informations against Samuel Simon, on an accusation of
still adhering to Judaism in his secret devotions. You are an
inmate of his family, consequently you must be an eye-witness to
many of his most private transactions. It probably may be
unnecessary to warn you, that you are obliged in conscience, and
by fear of punishment, to declare all you know about him,
notwithstanding any promise to the contrary, when I order you so
to do on the part of the holy inquisition. May it please your
reverence, answered the plodding little rascal, I am quite ready
to satisfy your heart's desire on that head, without being
commanded thereto in the name of the holy office. If ever my
acquittal was to depend on my master's character of me, I am
persuaded that my chance would be a sorry one; and for that
reason, I shall serve him as he would serve me. And I may tell
you in the first place, that he is a fly-by-night whose
proceedings it is no easy matter to take measure of; a man who
puts on all the starch formalities of an inveterate religionist,
but at bottom has not a spark of principle in his composition. He
goes every evening dangling after a little girl no better than
she should be. . . . I am vastly glad indeed to find that,
interrupted Ambrose, because I plainly perceive, by all you have
been telling me, that he is a man of corrupt morals and
licentious practices. But answer point by point to the questions
I shall put to you. It is above all on the subject of religion
that I am commissioned to inquire into his sentiments and
conduct. Pray tell me, do you eat much pork at your house? I do
not think, answered Gaspard, that we have seen it at table twice
in the year that I have lived with him. Better and better!
replied the paragon of inquisitors write down in legible
characters that they never eat pork in Samuel Simon's family. But
as a set-off against that, doubtless a joint of lamb is served up
every now and then? Yes, every now and then, rejoined the
apprentice; we killed one for our own consumption about last
Easter. The season is pat and to the purpose, cried the
ecclesiastical commissioner. Come, write down, that Simon keeps
the passover: This goes on merrily to a complete conviction; and
it seems, we have got a good serviceable information here.

Tell me again, my friend, pursued Lamela, whether you have not
often seen your master fondle young children. A thousand times,
answered Gaspard. When he sees the little urchins playing about
before the shop, if they happen to be pretty, he calls them in
and makes much of them. Write that down, be sure you write that
down! interrupted the inquisitor. Samuel Simon is very grievously
suspected of lying in wait for Christian children, and enticing
them into his den to circumcise them. Vastly well! vastly well,
indeed, Master Simon! you will have an account to settle with the
society for the suppression of Judaism, take my word for it. Do
not take it into your savage head that such bloody sacrifices are
to be perpetrated with impunity. A pretty use you make of baptism
and shaving! Cheer up, religious Gaspard, thou foremost of elect
apprentices! Make a full confession of all thy master's sins;
complete thine honest testimony by telling us how this simular of
a Catholic is more than ever wedded to his Jewish customs and
ceremonies. Is it not a fact, that one day in the week he sits
with his hands before him, and will not even perform the most
necessary offices for himself? No, answered Gaspard, I have not
exactly observed that. What comes nearest to it is that on some
days he shuts himself up in his closet, and stays there a long
time. Ay! now we have it, exclaimed the commissary. He keeps the
sabbath, or I am not an inquisitor. Note that particularly,
officer; note that he observes the fast of the sabbath most
superstitiously! Out upon him! What a shocking fellow! One
question more, and his business is done. Is not he always
parleying about Jerusalem? Pretty often indeed, replied our
informer. He knows the Old Testament by heart, and tells us how
the temple of Jerusalem was destroyed. The very thing! resumed
Ambrose. Secretary! be sure you do not neglect that feature of
the case. Write, in letters of an inch long, that Samuel Simon
has contracted with the devil for the rebuilding of the temple,
and that he is plotting day and night for the re-establishment of
his nation. That is all I want to know; and it is labour in vain
to pursue the examination any further. What Gaspard, in the
spirit of truth and charity, has deposed, would be sufficient to
make a bonfire of all Jewry.

When the august mouth-piece of the holy tribunal had sifted the
little scoundrelly apprentice after this manner, he told him he
might go about his business; at the same time commanding him,
under the severest penalties of the inquisition, not to say a
word to his master about what was going forward. Gaspard promised
implicit obedience, and marched off. We were not long in coming
after him: our procession from the inn was as grave and solemn as
our pilgrimage thereunto, till we knocked at Samuel Simon's door.
He opened it in person. Three figures such as ours might have
dumbfounded a better man; but his face was as long as a lawsuit,
when Lamela, our spokesman, said to him in a tone of authority:
Master Samuel, I command you in the name of the holy inquisition,
whose delegate I have the honour to be, to give me the key of
your closet without murmur or delay. I want to see if I cannot
find wherewithal to corroborate certain hints which have been
communicated to us respecting you.

The son of commerce, aghast at these sounds of melancholy import,
reeled two steps backward, just as if some one had given him a
blow in the breadbasket. Far from smelling a rat in this pleasant
trick of ours, he fancied in good earnest that some secret enemy
had made him an object of suspicion to the holy hue-and-cry; and
it might possibly have happened that, from being rather clumsy at
his new duties as a Christian, he might be conscious of having
laid himself open to serious animadversion. However that might
be, I never saw a man look more foolish. He did as he was ordered
without saying nay; and opened all his lock-up places with the
sheepish acquiescence of a man, who stood in awe of an
ecclesiastical rap on the knuckles. At least, said Ambrose as he
went in, at least you are not a contumacious oppugner of our
resistless mandates. But withdraw into another room, and leave me
to fulfil the duties of my station without profane observers.
Samuel did not set his face against this command any more than
against the first: but kept himself quiet in his shop, while we
went all three of us into his closet, where, without loss of
time, we laid an embargo on his cash. It was no difficult matter
to find it; for it lay in an open coffer, and in much larger
quantity than we could carry away. There were a great many bags
heaped up; but all in silver. Gold would have been more to our
mind; but, as robbers must not be choosers any more than beggars,
we were obliged to yield to the necessity of the case. Not only
did we line our pockets with ducats; but the most unsearchable
parts of our dress were made the receptacles of our filchings.
Yet was there no outward shew of the heavy burden under which we
tottered; thanks to the cunning contrivance of Ambrose and Don
Raphael, who proved that there is nothing like being master of
one's trade.

We marched out of the closet, after having feathered our nests
pretty warmly; and then, for a reason which the reader will have
no great difficulty in guessing, the worshipful inquisitor
produced his padlock, and fixed it on the door with his own
hands: he affixed moreover his own seal, and then said to Simon:
Master Samuel, I forbid you, in the name of the holy inquisition,
to touch either this padlock or this seal, which it is your
bounden duty to hold sacred, since it is the authentic seal of
our holy office. I shall return hither this time to-morrow, then
and here to open my commission, and provisionally to take off the
interdict. With this injunction, he ordered the street door to he
opened, and we made our escape after the processional manner, out
of our wits with joy. As soon as we had marched about fifty
yards, we began to mend our pace into such a quick step,
aggravated by degrees into a leap and a bound, that we were
almost like vaulters and tumblers, in spite of the weight we
carried. We were soon out of town; and mounting our horses once
more, pushed forward towards Segorba, with many a pious
ejaculation to the God Mercury, on the happy issue of so bold an
attempt.


CH. II -- The determination of Don Alphonso and Gil Blas after
this adventure.

We travelled all night, according to our modest and unobtrusive
custom; so that we found ourselves at sunrise near a little
village two leagues from Segorba. As we were all tired to death,
it was agreed unanimously to strike out of the highway, and rest
under the shade of some willows, which we saw at the foot of a
little hill, about ten or twelve hundred yards from the village,
where it did not seem expedient for us to halt. These willows
furnished us with an agreeable retreat, by the side of a little
brook which bubbled as it washed their roots. The place struck
our fancy, and we resolved to pass the day there. We unbridled
our horses, and turned them out to grass, stretching our own
gentle limbs on the soft sod. There we courted the drowsy god of
innocent repose for a while, and then rummaged to the bottom of
our wallet and our wine-skin. After an ecclesiastical breakfast,
we counted up our ten tithes of Samuel Simon's money; and it
mounted to a round three thousand ducats. So that with such a sum
and what we had before, it might be said, without boasting, that
we knew how to make both ends meet.

As it was necessary to go to market, Ambrose and Don Raphael,
throwing off their dresses now the play was over, said that they
would take that office conjointly on themselves: the adventure at
Xelva had only sharpened their wit, and they had a mind to look
about Segorba, just to make the experiment whether any
opportunity might offer of striking another stroke. You have no
thing to do, added the heir of Lucinda's wit and wisdom, but to
wait for us under these willows: we shall not be long before we
are with you again. Signor Don Raphael, exclaimed I with a horse-
laugh, tell us rather to wait for you under a more substantial
tree; the gallows. If you once leave us, we are in a month's mind
that we shall not see you again till the day after the fair. This
suspicion of our honour goes against the grain, replied Signor
Ambrose; but we deserve that our characters should suffer in your
esteem. It is but reason that you should distrust our purity,
after the affair at Valladolid, and should fancy that we shall
make it no more a matter of conscience to play at the devil take
the hindmost with you, than with the party that we left in the
lurch in that town, Yet you deceive yourselves egregiously. The
gang upon whom we turned the tables were people of very bad
character, and their company began to be disreputable to us. Thus
far justice must be done to the members of our profession, that
there is no bond in all civilized life less liable to be broken
by personal and private interest; but when there are no feelings
in common, our good understanding will be the worse for wear, as
it happens among other descriptions of men. Wherefore, Signor Gil
Blas, I entreat you, and Signor Don Alphonso as well as you, to
be somewhat more liberal in your construction of us, and to set
your hearts at respecting Don Raphael's and my whim about going
to Segorba.

It is the easiest thing in the world, observed Lucinda's hopeful
brat, to quash all subject of uneasiness on that score: they have
only to remain treasurers of the exchequer, and they will have a
sufficient pledge in their hands for our re turn. You see, Signor
Gil Blas, that we are all fair and above-board. You shall both
hold security for our re-appearance, and you may rest assured
that for Ambrose and myself, we shall set off without the
slightest misgiving of your taking to your heels with so valuable
a deposit. After so substantial a proof of our good faith, will
you not place implicit confidence in us? Yes, gentle men, said I,
and you may do at once whatever seems good in your own eyes. They
took their departure immediately, carrying the bottle and the
wallet along with them, and left me under the willows with Don
Alphonso, who said to me after they were out of sight: Now is the
time, Signor Gil Blas, now is the time to open my heart to you. I
am angry with myself for having been so easily prevailed on to
herd thus far with these two knaves. You have no idea how many
times I have quarrelled with myself on that score. Yesterday
evening, while I was watching the horses, a thousand mortifying
reflections rushed upon my mind. I thought it did not become a
young man of honourable principles to live among such scurvy
fellows as Don Raphael and Lamela; that if by ill-luck some day
or other, and many a more unlikely thing has happened, the
success of our swindling tricks should throw us into the hands of
justice, I might sustain the shame of being tried with them as a
reputed thief, and under going the disgraceful sentence of the
law. These frightful thoughts present themselves incessantly to
my imagination, and I will own to you that I have determined, as
the only means of escape from the contamination of their bad
actions, to part from them for ever. I can scarcely suppose that
you will disapprove of my design. No, I promise you, answered I:
though you have seen me perform the part of the alguazil in
Samuel Simon's comedy, do not fancy that such pieces as those are
got up to my taste. I take heaven to witness that while acting in
so witty a scene, I said to myself: Faith and troth, master Gil
Blas, if justice should come and lay hold of you by the wezand at
this moment, you would well deserve the penitential wages of your
iniquity. I feel therefore no more disposed than yourself, Don
Alphonso, to tarry longer in such bad company; and if you think
well of it, I will bear you company. When these gentlemen come
back, we will demand a balancing of the accounts, and to-morrow
morning, or even to-night before to-morrow, we will make our bow
to them.

The lovely Seraphina's lover approved my proposal. Let us get to
Valencia, said he, and we will embark for Italy, where we shall
be able to enter into the service of the Venetian republic. Will
it not be far better to take up the profession of arms, than to
lead such a dastardly and disreputable life as we are now engaged
in? We shall even be in a condition to make a very handsome
figure with the money that will be coming to us. Not that I
appropriate to myself without remorse a fund so unfairly
established; but besides that necessity obliges me to it, if ever
I acquire any property in my campaigns, I make a vow to indemnify
Samuel Simon. I gave Don Alphonso to understand that my
sentiments coincided with his own, and we resolved at once to
separate ourselves from our companions on the following morning
before daybreak. We were above the temptation of profiting by
their absence, that is, of marching off in a hurry with the sum
total of the finances: the confidence they had reposed in leaving
us masters of the whole revenue, did not permit such a thought so
much as to pass through our minds.

Ambrose and Don Raphael returned from Segorba just at the close
of day. The first thing they told us was, that their journey had
been propitious; for they had laid the corner-stone of a
rascality which, to all appearance, would turn out still better
than that of the evening before. And thereupon the son of Lucinda
was going to put us in possession of the details; but Don
Alphonse cut him short in his explanation, and declared at once
his intention of parting company. I announced my own wish to do
the same. To no purpose did they employ all their rhetoric, to
prove to us the propriety of our accompanying them in their
professional travels: we took leave of them the next morning,
after having made an equal division of our cash, and pushed on
towards Valencia.

CH III. -- An unfortunate occurrence, which terminated to the
high delight of Don Alphonso. Gil Blas meets with an adventure
which places him all at once in a very superior situation.

We galloped on gaily as far as Bunol, where, as ill-luck would
have it, we were obliged to stop. Don Alphonso was taken ill. His
disorder was a high fever, with such an access of alarming
symptoms, as put me in fear for his life. By the greatest mercy
in the world, the place was not beset by a single physician, and
I got clear off without any harm but my fright. He was quite out
of danger at the end of three days, and with my nursing, his
recovery was rapid and without relapse. He seemed to be very
grateful for my attentions; and as we really and truly felt a
liking for each other, we swore an eternal friendship.

At length we got on our journey again, in the constant
determination, when we arrived at Valencia, of profiting by the
first opportunity which might offer to go over into Italy. But
heaven disposed of us differently. We saw at the gate of a fine
castle some country people of both sexes making merry and dancing
in a ring. We went near to be spectators of their revels; and Don
Alphonso was never less prepared than for the surprise which all
at once came over his senses. He found it was Baron Steinbach,
who was as little backward in recognizing him, but ran up to him
with open arms, and exclaimed, in accents of unbridled joy -- Ah,
Don Alphonso! is it you? What a delightful meeting! While search
was making for you in every direction, chance presents you to my
view.

My fellow-traveller dismounted immediately, and ran to embrace
the baron, whose joy seemed to me of an extravagant nature. Come,
my long-lost son, said the good old man, you shall now be
informed of your own birth, and know the happy destiny that
awaits you. As he uttered these words, he conducted him into the
castle. I went in along with them; for while they were exchanging
salutations, I had alighted and tied our horses to a tree. The
lord of the castle was the first person whom we met. He was about
the age of fifty, and a very well-looking man. Sir, said Baron
Steinbach as he introduced Don Alphonso, behold your son. At
these words, Don Caesar de Leyva, for by that title the lord of
the castle was called, threw his arms round Don Alphonso's neck,
and weeping with joy, muttered indistinctly, My dear son, know in
me the author of your being. If I have for so long left you in
ignorance of your birth and family, rest assured that the self-
denial was mine in the most painful degree. I have a thousand
times been ready to burst with anxiety, but it was impossible to
act otherwise. I had married your mother from sheer attachment,
for her origin was very inferior to mine. I lived under the
control of an austere father, whose severity rendered it
necessary to keep secret a marriage contracted without his
sanction. Baron Steinbach, and he alone, was in my confidence: he
brought you up at my request, and under my directions. At length
my father is laid with his ancestors, and I can own you for my
son and heir. This is not all; I can give you for a bride a young
lady whose rank is on a level with my own. Sir, interrupted Don
Alphonso, make me not pay too dear for the happiness you have
just been throwing in my lap. May I not be told that I have the
honour of being your son without being informed at the same time
that you are determined to make me miserable? Ah, sir! be not
more cruel than your own father. If he did not consent to the
indulgence of your passion, at least he never compelled you to
take another wife. My son, replied Don Caesar, I have no wish to
exercise a tyranny over your inclinations, which I spurned at in
my own case. But have the good manners just to see the lady I
design for you, that is all I require from your filial duty.
Though a lovely creature and a very advantageous match, I promise
never to force you into marriage. She is now in this castle.
Follow me; you will be obliged to acknowledge that you have
rarely seen a more attractive object. So saying, he led Don
Alphonso into a room where I made myself one of the party with
Baron Steinbach.

There was the Count de Polan with his two daughters, Seraphina
and Julia, and Don Ferdinand de Leyva, his son-in-law, who was
Don Caesar's nephew. Don Ferdinand, as was mentioned before, had
eloped with Julia, and it was on the occasion of the marriage
between these two lovers that the peasantry of the neighbourhood
were collected on this day to congratulate the bride and bride
groom. As soon as Don Alphonso made his appearance, and his
father had introduced him to the company, the Count de Polan rose
from his chair and ran to embrace him, saying -- Welcome, my
deliverer! Don Alphonso, added he, addressing his discourse to
him, observe the power of virtue over generous minds. Though you
have killed my son, you have saved my life. I lay aside my
resentment for ever, and give you that very Seraphina whose
honour you protected from invasion. In so doing, my debt to you
is paid. Don Caesar's son was not wanting in acknowledgments to
the Count de Polan, nor could he be otherwise than deeply
affected by his goodness; and it maybe doubted whether the
discovery of his birth and parentage touched his felicity more
nearly than the intelligence that he was the destined husband of
Seraphina. This marriage was actually solemnized some days
afterwards, to the entire satisfaction of all parties concerned.

As I was one of the Count de Polan's deliverers, this nobleman,
who knew me again immediately, said that he would take upon
himself the care of making my fortune. I thanked him for his
liberality, but would not leave Don Alphonso, who made me steward
of his household, and honoured me with his confidence. A few days
after his marriage, still harping upon the trick which had been
played to Samuel Simon, he sent me to return to that cozened
shopkeeper all the money which had been filched from him. I went
therefore to make restitution. This was setting up the trade of a
steward, but beginning at the wrong end: they ought all of them
to end with restitution; but nine hundred and ninety-nine out of
a thousand think it double trouble, and excuse themselves.



 

 

 




BOOK THE SEVENTH.


CH. I. -- The tender attachment between Gil Blas and Dame Lorenza
Sephora.

AWAY went I to Xelva with three thousand ducats under my charge,
as an equivalent to Samuel Simon for the amount of his loss. I
will have the honesty to own, that my fingers itched as I jogged
along, to transfer these funds to my own account, and begin my
stewardship in character, since everything in this life depends
upon setting out well. There was no risk in preferring instinct
to principle: because it was only to ride about the country for
five or six days, and come home upon a brisk trot as if I had
done my business and made the best of my way. Don Alphonso and
his father would never have believed me capable of a breach of
trust. Yet, strange to tell, I was proof against so tempting a
suggestion: it would scarcely be too much to say, that honour,
not the fear of being found out, was the spring of so
praiseworthy a decision; and as times go, that is saying a great
deal for a lad, whose conscience had been pretty well seasoned by
keeping company with a succession of scoundrels. Many people who
have not that excuse, but frequent worshipful society, will
wonder how such squeamishness should have prevailed over my good
sense: treasurers of charities in particular; persons who have
the wills of relations in their custody, and do not exactly like
the contents; in short, all those whose characters stand higher
than their principles, will find food for reflection in my
overstrained scrupulosity.

After having made restitution to the merchant, who little thought
ever to have seen one farthing of his property again, I returned
to the castle of Lena. The Count de Polan had taken his
departure, and was far on his journey to Toledo with Julia and
Don Ferdinand. I found my new master more wrapped up than ever in
Seraphina; his Seraphina equally wrapped up in my master, and Don
Caesar just as much wrapped up as either in the contemplation of
the happy couple. My object was to gain the goodwill of this
affectionate father, and I succeeded to my wish. The whole house
was placed implicitly under my superintendence -- nothing was
done without my special direction; the tenants paid their rents
into my hands; the disbursements of the family were all under my
revision; and the subordinate situations in the household were at
my disposal without appeal; and yet the power of tyrannizing did
not give me the inclination, as it has always hitherto done to my
equals and superiors. I neither turned away the male servants,
because I did not like the cut of their beards, nor the female
ones because they happened not to like the cut of mine. If they
made up to Don Caesar or his son at once, without currying my
favour as the channel of all good graces, far from taking umbrage
at them on that account, I spoke out officiously in their behalf.
In other respects, too, the marks of confidence my two masters
were incessantly lavishing on me inspired me with a substantial
zeal for their service. Their interest was my real object: there
was no slight of hand in my ministry; I was such a caterer for
the general good, as you rarely meet with in private families or
in political societies.

While I was hugging myself on the well-earned prosperity of my
condition, love, jealous of my dealings with fortune, was bent on
sharing my gratitude by the addition of a higher zest, he
planted, watered, and ripened in the heart of Dame Lorenza
Sephora, Seraphina's confidential woman, an abundant crop of
liking for the happy steward. My Helen, not to sink the fidelity
of the historian in the vanity of the man, could not be many
months short of her fiftieth year. But for all that, a look of
wholesomeness, a face none of the ugliest, and two good-looking
eyes of which she knew the efficient use, might make her still
pass for a decent bit of amusement in a summer evening. I could
only just have been thankful for a little more relief to her
complexion, since it was precisely the colour of chalk; but that
I attributed to maiden concealments, which had eat away all the
damask of her cheek.

The lady ogled me for a long time, with ogles that savoured more
of passion than of chastity; but instead of communing in the
language of the eyes, I made pretence at first not to be sensible
of my own happiness. Thus did my gallantry appear as if arrayed
in its first blushes; a circumstance which was rather tempting
than repulsive to her feelings. Taking it into her head,
therefore, that there was no standing upon dumb eloquence with a
young man who looked more like a novice than he was, at our very
first interview she declared her sentiments in broad, unequivocal
terms, that I might have no plea for misinterpretation. She
played her part like an old stager: affected to be overwhelmed
with confusion while she was speaking to me; and after having
said all she wanted to say in a good audible voice, put her hand
before her face, to hide the shame which was not there, and make
me believe that she was incommoded by the delicacy of her own
feelings. There was no standing such an attack; and though vanity
had a larger share in my surrender than the tender passion, I did
not receive her overtures ungraciously. Nay, more, I presumed to
overlook decorum in my vivacity, and acted the impatient lover so
naturally as to call down a modest rebuke upon my freedoms.
Lorenza chid my fondness, but with so much fondness in her
chidings, that while she prescribed to me the coldness of an
anchorite, it was very evident she would have been miserably
disappointed if I had taken her prescription. I should have
pressed the affair at once to the natural termination of all such
affairs, if the lovely object of my ardent wishes had not been
afraid of giving me a left-handed opinion of her virtue, by
abandoning the works before the siege was regularly formed. This
being so, we parted, but with a promise to meet again: Sephora in
the full persuasion that her reluctant resistance would stamp her
for a vestal in my esteem, and myself full of the sweet hope that
the torments of Tantalus would soon be succeeded by an elysium of
enjoyment.

My affairs were in this happy train, when one of Don Caesar's
under servants brought me such a piece of news, as gave an ague
to my raptures. This lad was one of those inquisitive inmates who
apply either an ear or an eye to every keyhole in a house. As he
paid his court constantly to me, and served up some fresh piece
of scandal every day, he came to tell me one morning that he had
made a pleasant discovery; and that he had no objection to
letting me into the fun, on condition that I would not blab:
because Dame Lorenza Sephora was the theme of the joke, and he
was afraid of becoming obnoxious to her resentment and revenge. I
was too much interested in coming at the story he had to tell,
not to swear myself into discretion through thick and thin; but
it was necessary that my motive should seem curiosity and not
personal concern, so that I asked him, with an air of as much
indifference as I could put on, what was this mighty discovery
about which he made such a piece of work. Lorenza, whispered he,
smuggles the surgeon of the village every evening into her
apartment: he is a tight vessel, well armed and manned; and the
pirate generally stays pretty long upon his cruise. I do not mean
to say, added he, with supercilious candour but that all this may
be perfectly innocent on both sides, but you cannot help
admitting, that where a young man does insinuate himself slily
into a girl's bedchamber he takes better care of his own pleasure
than of her reputation.

Though this tale gave me as much uneasiness as if I had been
verily and romantically in love, I had too much sense to let him
know it; but so far stifled my feelings as to laugh heartily at a
story which struck at the very life of all my hopes. But when no
witnesses were by, I made myself full amends for having gulped
down my rising indignation. I blustered and stormed; muttered
blessings on them the wrong way, and swore outright: but all this
without coming nearer to a decision on my own conduct. At one
time, holding Lorenza in utter contempt, it was my good pleasure
to give her up altogether, without condescending so far as to
come to any explanation with the coquette. At an other time,
laying it down as a principle, that my honour was concerned in
making the surgeon an example to all intriguers, I spirited up my
courage to call him out. Thus dangerous valour prevailed over
safe indifference. At the approach of evening I placed myself in
ambuscade; and sure enough the gentleman did slink into the
temple of my Vesta, with a fear of being found out that spoke
rather unfavourably for the purity of his designs. Nothing short
of this could have kept my rage alive against the chilliness of
the night air. I immediately quitted the precincts of the castle,
and posted myself on the high road, where the gay deceiver was
sure to be intercepted on his return. I waited for him with my
fighting spirits on the full boil: my impatience increased with
the lapse of time, till Mars and Bellona seemed to inhabit my
frame, and enlarge it beyond human dimensions. At length my
antagonist came in sight. I took a few strides, such as bully
Mars or Bellona might have taken; but I do not know how the devil
it came to pass, my courage went further off as my body came
nearer; my frame was contracted within somewhat less than its
human dimensions, and my heart felt exactly like the heart of a
coward. The hearts of Homer's heroes felt exactly the same, when
the dastardly dogs were not backed by a supernatural drawcansir!
In short, I was just as much out of my element as ever Paris was,
when he pitted himself against Menelaus in single combat. I began
taking measure of this operator in love, war, and anatomy. He
appeared to be large limbed and well knit, with a sword by his
side of a most abominable length. All this made me consider, that
the better part of valour is discretion: nevertheless, whether
from the superiority of mind over the nervous system in a case of
honour, or from whatever other cause, though the danger grew
bigger as the distance diminished, and in spite of nature, which
pleaded obstinately that honour is a mere scutcheon, and can
neither set a leg nor take away the grief of a wound, I mustered
up boldness enough to march forward towards the surgeon sword in
hand.

My proceeding seemed to him to be of the drollest. What is the
matter, Signor Gil Blas? exclaimed he. Why all this fire and
fury? You are in a bantering mood, to all appearance. No, good
master shaver, answered I, no such thing; there never was
anything more serious since Cain killed Abel. I am determined to
try the experiment, whether as little preparation serves your
turn in the field of battle as in a lady's chamber. Hope not that
you will be suffered to possess without a rival that heaven of
bliss in which you have been indulging but this moment at the
castle. By all the martyrdoms we phlebotomizers have ever
suffered or inflicted! replied the surgeon, setting up a shout of
laughter, this is a most whimsical adventure. As heaven is my
judge! appearances are very little to be trusted. At this put
off, fancying that he had no keener stomach for cold iron than
myself, I got to be I ten times more over bearing. Teach your
parrot to speak better Spanish, my friend, interrupted I; do you
think we do not know a hawk from a hernshaw? Imagine not that the
simple denial of the fact will settle the business. I see
plainly, replied he, that I shall be obliged to speak out, or
some mischief must happen either to you or me. I shall therefore
disclose a secret to you; though men in our profession cannot be
too much on the reserve. If Dame Lorenza sends for me into her
apartment under suspicious circumstances, it is only to conceal
from the servants the knowledge of her malady. She has an
incurable ulcer in her back, which I come every evening to dress.
This is the real occasion of those visits which disturb your
peace. Henceforward, rest assured that you have her all to
yourself. But if you are not satisfied with this expectation, and
are absolutely bent on a fencing match, you have only to say so;
I am not a man to turn my back upon a game at sword play. With
these words in his mouth he drew his long rapier, which made my
heart jump into my throat, and stood upon his guard. It is
enough, said I, putting my sword up again in its scabbard, I am
not a wild beast, to turn a deaf ear to reason: after what you
have told me, there is no cause of enmity between us. Let us
shake hands. At this proposal, by which he found out that I was
not such a devil of a fellow as he had taken me for, he returned
his weapon with a laugh, met my advances to be reconciled, and we
parted the best friends in the world.

From that time forward Sephora never came into my thoughts but
with the most disgusting associations. I shunned all the
opportunities she gave me of entertaining her in private, and
this with so obvious a study, almost bordering on rudeness, that
she could not but notice it. Astonished at so sudden a reverse,
she was dying to know the cause, and at length, finding the means
of pinning me down to a tкte-а-tкte, Good Mr Steward, said she,
tell me, if so please you, why you avoid the very sight of me! It
is true that I made the first advances; but then you fed the
consuming fire. Recall to memory, if it is not too great a
favour, the private interview we had together. Then you were a
magazine of combustibles, now you are as frozen as the north sea.
What is the meaning of all this? The question was not a little
difficult of solution, for a man unaccustomed to the violence of
amorous interrogatories. The consequence was, that it puzzled me
most confoundedly. I do not precisely recollect the identical lie
I told the lady, but I recollect perfectly that nothing but the
truth could have affronted her more highly. Sephora, though by
her mincing air and modest outside one might have taken her for a
lamb, was a tigress when the savage was roused in her nature. I
did think, said she, darting a glance at me full of malice and
hideousness, I did think to have conferred such honour as was
never conferred before, on a little scoundrel like you, by
betraying sentiments which the first nobility in the country
would make it their boast to excite. Fitly indeed am I punished
for having preposterously lowered myself to the level of a dirty,
snivelling adventurer.

That was pretty well; but she did not stop there: I should have
come off too cheaply on such terms. Her fury taking a long lease
of her tongue, that brawling instrument of discord rung a bob-
major of invective, each strain more clamorous and confounding
than the former. It certainly was my duty to have received it all
with cool indifference, and to have considered candidly that in
triumphing over female reserve, and then not taking possession of
the conquest, I had committed that sin against the sex, which
would have transformed the most feminine of them into a Sephora.
But I was too irritable to bear abuse, at which a man of sense in
my place would only have laughed; and my patience was at length
exhausted. Madam, said I, let us not rake into each other's
personal misfortunes, If the first nobility in the country had
only looked at your back, they would have forgotten all your
other charms, and have boasted but little of the sentiments they
had excited you to betray. I had no sooner laid in this home
stroke, then the enraged duenna visited me with the hardest box
on the ear that ever yet proceeded from the delicate fingers of a
woman scorned. Such favours might pall on repetition; so I did
not wait for a second, but took shelter in the nimbleness of my
legs from the clatter of castigation she was going to shower down
on me.

I returned thanks to the protecting powers for having brought me
clear off from this unequal encounter, and fancied that I had
nothing further to apprehend, since the lady had taken corporal
vengeance. It was likely, too, that she would be wise and hold
her tongue, for the honour of her own back: and, in point of
fact, a full fortnight had elapsed without my hearing a word upon
the subject The very tingling in my own cheek began to abate,
when I was told that Sephora was taken ill. With that forgiveness
of injuries so natural to me, I was sincerely afflicted at the
news. I really felt for the poor lady. I concluded that, unable
to contend with a passion so ill repaid, that hapless victim of
her own tenderness was giving up the ghost. It was with exquisite
pain that I turned this subject in my thoughts. I was the cruel
cause that her heart was breaking; and my pity at least was the
duenna's, though love is too wayward to be controlled by advice.
But I was miserably mistaken in her nature. Her tenderness had
all curdled into acrimonious hatred; and at that very moment was
she plotting to be my bane.

One morning while I was with Don Alphonso, that amiable young
master of mine was absent, moody, and out of spirits. I inquired
respectfully what was the matter. I am vexed to the soul, said
he, to find Seraphina weak, unjust, ungrateful. You are not a
little surprised at this, added he, remarking the expression of
astonishment with which I heard him; yet nothing is more strictly
and lamentably true. I know not what reason you have given Dame
Lorenza to be at variance with you; but true it is, you are
become so unbearably hateful to her, that if you do not get out
of this castle as soon as possible, her death, she says, must be
the sure consequence. You cannot but suppose that Seraphina, who
knows your value, used all her influence at first against a
prejudice to which she could not administer without injustice and
ingratitude. But though the best of women, she is still a woman.
Sephora brought her up, and she loves her like a mother. Should
her old nurse die shortly, she would fancy she had her death to
answer for, had she refused herself to any of her whims. For my
own part, with all my affection towards Seraphina, and it is none
of the weakest, I will never be guilty of so mean a compliance as
to side with her on this question. Perish our duennas, perish the
whole system of our Spanish vigilance! but never let me consent
to the banishment of a young man whom I look upon rather as a
brother than a servant!

When Don Alphonso had thus expressed his sentiments, I said to
him: My good sir, I am born to be the mere whipping-top of
fortune. It had been my hope that she would leave off persecuting
me when under your roof, where everything held out to me happy
days and an unruffled life. Now, the part for honour to take is
to tear myself away, whatever hankering I may feel after my
continuance. No, no, exclaimed the generous son of Don Caesar.
Leave me to bring Seraphina to a proper view of things. It shall
never be said that you are sacrificed to the caprices of a
duenna, who, on every occasion, has but too much influence over
the family. All you will get by it, sir, replied I, will only be
to put Seraphina in an ill humour by opposing her wishes. I had
much rather withdraw than run the risk, by a longer abode here,
of sowing division between a married pair, who are a model of
conjugal felicity. Such a consequence of my unhappy quarrel would
make me miserable for the remainder of my days.

Don Alphonso absolutely forbade me to take any hasty step; and I
found him so determined in the intention of standing by me, that
Lorenza must infallibly have been thrown into the background, if
I had chosen to have stood an election against her. There were
moments when, exasperated against the duenna, I was tempted to
keep no measures with her; but when I came to consider that to
unravel this surgical mystery would be to plunge a dagger into
the heart of a poor creature, whose curse had been my fastidious
prejudice against an ulcerated back, and whom a physical and
mental misfortune were conjointly handing down to the grave; I
lost all feeling but that of compassion towards her. It was
evident, since I was so portentous a phenomenon, that it was my
imperious duty to re-establish the tranquillity of the castle by
my absence; and that duty I performed the next morning before
daybreak, without taking any leave of my two masters, for fear
they should oppose my departure from a misplaced partiality
towards me. My only notice was to leave behind in my chamber a
memorial, containing an exact account of my receipts and
disbursements during the time of my stewardship.


CH. II. -- What happened to Gil Blas after his retreat from the
castle of Leyva; shewing that those who are crossed in love are
not always the most miserable of mankind.

I WAS mounted on a good horse, my own property, and was the
bearer of two hundred pistoles, the greater part of which arose
from the plunder of the vanquished banditti, and the forfeiture
of Samuel Simon by the Inquisition; for Don Alphonso, without
requiring me to account for any part of the said forfeiture, had
made restitution of the entire sum out of his own funds. Thus,
considering my effects, however obtained, as converted into
lawful property by a sort of vicarious sponsorship, I took them
into my good graces without any remorse of conscience. An estate
like this rendered it absurd to throw away any thought about the
future; and a certain likelihood of doing well, which always
hangs about a young man at my age, held out an additional
security against the caprices of fortune. Besides, Toledo offered
me a retreat exactly to my mind. There could not be a doubt but
the Count de Polan would take a pleasure in giving a kind
reception to one of his deliverers, and would insist on his
accepting an apartment in his own house. But I only looked upon
this nobleman as a very distant resource; and determined, before
laying any tax on his grateful recollection, to spend part of my
ready cash in travelling over the provinces of Murcia and
Grenada, which I had a very particular inclination to see. With
this intention I took the Almanza road, and afterwards, following
the route chalked out, travelled from town to town as far as the
city of Grenada, without stumbling on any sinister occurrence. It
should seem as if fortune, wearied out with the school-girl's
tricks she had been playing me, was contented at last to leave me
as she found me. But she still had her skittish designs upon me,
as will be seen in the sequel.

One of the first persons I met in the streets of Grenada was
Signor Don Ferdinand de Leyva, son-in-law, as well as Don
Alphonso, of the Count de Polan. We were both of us equally
surprised at meeting so far from home. How is this, Gil Blas?
exclaimed he; to find you in this city! What the devil brings you
hither? Sir, said I, if you are astonished at seeing me in this
country, you will be ten times more so when you shall know why I
have quitted the service of Signor Don Caesar and his son. Then I
recounted to him all that had passed between Sephora and myself,
without garbling the facts in any particular. He laughed heartily
at the recital; then, recovering his gravity, My friend, said he,
my mediation is at your service in this affair. I will write to
my sister-in-law . . . . No, no, sir, interrupted I, do not write
upon the subject, I beseech you. I did not quit the castle of
Leyva to go back again. You may, if you please, make another use
of the kindness you have expressed for me. If any of your friends
should be looking out for a secretary or a steward, I should be
much obliged to you to speak a good word in my favour. I will
take upon me to assure you that you will never be reproached with
recommending an improper object. You have only to command me,
answered he: I will do whatever you desire. My business at
Grenada is to visit an old aunt in an ill state of health. I
shall be here three weeks longer, after which I shall set out on
my return to my castle of Lorqui, where I have left Julia. That
is my lodging, added he, shewing me a house about a hundred yards
from us. Call upon me in a few days; probably I may by that time
have hit upon some eligible appointment.

And, in fact, so it was; for the very first time that we came
together again, he said to me: My Lord Archbishop of Grenada, my
relation and friend, is in want of a young man with some little
tinge of literature, who can write a good hand and make fair
copies of his manuscripts; for he is a great author. He has
composed I know not how many homilies, and still goes on
composing more every day, which he delivers to the high
edification of his audience. As you seem to be just the thing for
him, I have mentioned your name, and he has promised to take you.
Go, and make your bow to him as from me; you will judge, by his
reception of you, whether my recommendation has been couched in
handsome terms.

The situation was, to all appearance, exactly what I should have
picked out for myself. That being the case, with such an
arrangement of my air and person as seemed most likely to square
with the ideas of a reverend prelate, I presented myself one
morning before the archbishop. If this were a gorgeous romance,
and not a grave history, here might we introduce a pompous
description of the episcopal palace, with architectural
digressions on the structure of the building: here would be the
place to expatiate on the costliness of the furniture like an
upholsterer, to criticise the statues and pictures like a
connoisseur; and the pictures themselves would be nothing to the
uninformed reader, without the stories they represent, till
universal history, fabulous and authentic, sacred and profane,
should be pressed into the service. But I shall content myself
with modestly stating, that the royal palace itself is scarcely
superior in magnificence.

Throughout the suite of apartments, there was a complete mob of
ecclesiastics and other officers, consisting of chaplains,
ushers, upper and menial servants. Those of them who were laymen
were most superbly attired; one would sooner have taken them for
temporal nobility than for spiritual understrappers. They were as
proud as the devil; and gave themselves intolerably consequential
airs. I could not help laughing in my sleeve, when I considered
who and what they were, and how they behaved. Set a beggar on
horseback! said I. These gentry are in luck to carry a pack
without feeling the drag of it; for surely if they knew they were
beasts of burden, they would not jingle their bells with so high
a toss of the head. I ventured just to speak to a grave and
portly personage who stood sentinel at the door of the
archbishop's closet, to turn it upon its hinges as occasion might
require. I asked him civilly if there was no possibility of
speaking with my lord archbishop. Stop a little, said he, with a
supercilious demeanour and repulsive tone: his grace will shortly
come forth, to go and hear mass: you may snatch an audience for a
moment as he passes on. I answered not a single syllable.
Patience was all I had for it; and it even seemed advisable to
try and enter into conversation with some of the jacks in office:
but they began conning me over from the sole of my foot to the
crown of my head, without condescending to favour me with a
single interjection; after which they winked at one another,
whispered, and looked out at the corners of their eyes, in
derision of the liberty I had assumed, by intruding upon their
select society.

I felt more fool that I did so, quite out of countenance at such
cavalier treatment from a knot of state footmen. My confusion was
but beginning to subside, when the closet door opened. The
archbishop made his appearance. A profound silence immediately
ensued among his officers, who quitted at once their insolent
behaviour, to adopt a more respectful style before their master.
That prelate was in his sixty-ninth year, formed nearly on the
model of my uncle, Gil Perez the canon, which is as much as to
say, as broad as he was long. But the highest dignitaries should
always be the most amply gifted; accordingly his legs bowed
inwards to the very extremity of the graceful curve, and his bald
head retained but a single lock behind: so that he was obliged to
ensconce his pericranium in a fine woollen cap with long ears. In
spite of all this, I espied the man of quality in his deportment,
doubtless, because I knew that he actually happened to be one. We
common fellows, the fungous growth of the human dunghill, look up
to great lords with a facility of being overawed, which often
furnishes them with a Benjamin's mess of importance, when nature
has denied even the most scanty and trivial gifts.

The archbishop moved towards me in a minuet step, and kindly
inquired what I wanted. I told him I was the young man about whom
Signor Don Ferdinand de Leyva had spoken to him. He did not give
me a moment to go on with my story. Ah! is it you, exclaimed he,
is it you of whom so fine a character has been given me? I take
you into my service at once; you are a mine of literary utility
to me. You have only to take up your abode here. Talking thus
condescendingly, he supported himself between two ushers, and
moved onwards after having given audience to some of his clergy,
who had ecclesiastical business to communicate. He was scarcely
out of the room, when the same officers who had turned upon their
heel, were now cap in hand to court my conversation. Here the
rascals are, pressing round me, currying favour, and expressing
their sincere joy at seeing me become as it were an heir loom of
the archbishopric. They had heard what their master had said, and
were dying with anxiety to know on what footing I was to be about
him; but I had the ill nature not to satisfy their curiosity, in
revenge for their contempt.

My lord archbishop was not long before he returned. He took me
with him into his closet for a little private conference. I could
not but suppose that he meant to fathom the depth of my
understanding. I was accordingly on my guard, and prepared to
measure out my words most methodically. He questioned me first in
the classics. My answers were not amiss; he was convinced that I
had more than a schoolboy's acquaintance with the Greek and Latin
writers. He examined me next in logic; nor could I but suppose
that he would examine me in logic. He found me strong enough
there. Your education, said he, with some degree of surprise, has
not been neglected. Now let us see your hand-writing. I took a
blank piece of paper out of my pocket, which I had brought for
the purpose. My ghostly father was not displeased with my
performance. I am very well satisfied with the mechanical part of
your qualifications, exclaimed he, and still more so with the
powers of your mind. I shall thank my nephew, Don Ferdinand, most
heartily, for having sent me so fine a lad; it is absolutely a
gift from above.

We were interrupted by some of the neighbouring gentry, who were
come to dine with the archbishop. I left them together, and
withdrew to the second table, where the whole household, with one
consent, insisted on giving me the upper hand. Dinner is a busy
time at an episcopal ordinary; and yet we snatched a moment to
make our observations on each other. What a mortified propriety
was painted on the outside of the clergy? They had all the look
of a deputation from a better world: strange to think how place
and circumstance impose on the deluded sense of men! It never
once came into my thoughts that all this sanctity might possibly
be a false coin; just as if there could be nothing but what
appertained to the kingdom above, among the successors of the
apostles on earth.

I was seated by the side of an old valet-de-chambre, by name
Melchior de la Ronda. He took care to help me to all the nice
bits. His attentions were not lost upon me, and my good manners
quite enraptured him. My worthy sir, said he, in a low voice
after dinner, I should like to have a little private talk with
you. At the same time he led the way to a part of the palace
where we could not be overheard, and there addressed me as
follows: My son, from the very first instant that I saw you, I
felt a certain prepossession in your favour. Of this I will give
you a certain proof, by communicating in confidence what will be
of great service to you. You are here in a family where true
believers and painted hypocrites are playing at cross purposes
against each other, It would take an antediluvian age to feel the
ground under your feet. I will spare so long and so disgusting a
study, by letting you into the characters on both sides. After
this, if you do not play your cards, it is your own fault.

I shall begin with his grace. He is a very pious prelate,
employed without ceasing in the instruction of the people, whom
he brings back to virtue, like sheep gone astray, by sermons full
of excellent morality, and written by himself. He has retired
from court these twenty years, to watch over his flock with the
zeal of an affectionate pastor. He is a very learned person, and
a very impressive declaimer: his whole delight is in preaching,
and his congregation take care he should know that their whole
delight is in hearing him. There may possibly be some little
leaven of vanity in all this heavenly-mindedness; but, besides
that it is not for human fallibility to search the heart, it
would ill become me to rake into the faults of a person whose
bread I eat. Were it decent to lay my finger on anything
unbecoming in my master, I should discommend his starchness.
Instead of exercising forbearance towards frail churchmen, he
visits every peccadillo, as if it were a heinous offence. Above
all, he prosecutes those with the utmost rigour of the spiritual
court, who, wrapping themselves up in their innocence, appeal to
the canons for their justification, in bar of his despotic
authority. There is besides another awkward trait in his
character, common to him with many other people of high rank.
Though he is very fond of the people about him, he pays not the
least attention to their services, but lets them sink into years
without a moment's thought about securing them any provision. If
at any time he makes them any little presents, they may thank the
goodness of some one who shall have spoken up in their behalf: he
would never have his wits enough about him to do the slightest
thing for them as a volunteer.

This is just what the old valet-de-chambre told me of his master.
Next, he let me into what he thought of the clergymen with whom
we had dined. His portraits might be likenesses; but they were
too hard-featured to be owned by the originals. It must be
admitted, however, that he did not represent them as honest men,
but only as very scandalous priests. Nevertheless, he made some
exceptions, and was as loud in their praises as in his censure of
the others. I was no longer at any loss how to play my part so as
to put myself on an equal footing with these gentry. That very
evening, at supper, I took a leaf out of their book, and arrayed
myself in the convenient vesture of a wise and prudent outside. A
clothing of humility and sanctification costs nothing. Indeed it
offers such a premium to the wearer, that we are not to wonder if
this world abounds in a description of people called hypocrites.


CH. III. -- Gil Blas becomes the Archbishop's favourite, and the
channel of all his favours.

I HAD been after dinner to get together my baggage, and take my
horse from the inn where I had put up, and afterwards returned to
supper at the archbishop's palace, where a neatly furnished room
was got ready for me, and such a bed as was more likely to pamper
than to mortify the flesh. The day following, his grace sent for
me quite as soon as I was ready to go to him. It was to give me a
homily to transcribe. He made a point of having it copied with
all possible accuracy. It was done to please him; for I omitted
neither accent, nor comma, nor the minutest tittle of all he had
marked down. His satisfaction at observing this was heightened by
its being unexpected. Eternal Father! exclaimed he in a holy
rapture, when he had glanced his eye over all the folios of my
copy, was ever anything seen so correct? You are too good a
transcriber not to have some little smattering of the grammarian.
Now tell me with the freedom of a friend: in writing it over,
have you been struck with nothing that grated upon your feelings?
Some little careless idiom, or some word used in an improper
sense? Oh! may it please your grace, answered I with a modest
air, it is not for me, with my confined education and coarse
taste, to aim at making critical remarks. And though ever so well
qualified, I am satisfied that your grace's works would come out
pure from the essay. The successor of the apostles smiled at my
answer. He made no observation on it; but it was easy to see,
through all his piety, that he was an arrant author at the
bottom: there is some thing in that dye, that not heaven itself
can wash out.

I seemed to have purchased the fee-simple of his good graces by
my flattery. Day after day did I get a step further in his
esteem; and Don Ferdinand, who came to see him very often, told
me my footing was so firm, that there could not be a doubt but my
fortune was made. Of this my master himself gave me a proof some
little time afterwards: and the occasion was as follows: -- One
evening in his closet be rehearsed before me, with appropriate
emphasis and action, a homily which he was to deliver the next
day in the cathedral. He did not content himself with asking me
what I thought of it in the gross, but insisted on my telling him
what passages struck me most. I had the good fortune to pick out
those which were nearest to his own taste, his favourite common-
places. Thus, as luck would have it, I passed in his estimation
for a man who had a quick and natural relish of the real and less
obvious beauties in a work. This, indeed, exclaimed he, is what
you may call having discernment and feeling in perfection! Well,
well, my friend! it cannot be said of you,

Baeotum in crasso jurares aлre natum.

In a word, he was so highly pleased with me, as to add in a tone
of extraordinary emotion -- Never mind, Gil Blas! henceforward
take no care about hereafter; I shall make it my business to
place you among the favoured children of my bounty. You have my
best wishes; and to prove to you that you have them, I shall take
you into my inmost confidence.

These words were no sooner out of his mouth, than I fell at his
grace's feet, quite overwhelmed with gratitude. I embraced his
elliptical legs with almost pagan idolatry, and considered myself
as a man on the high road to a very handsome fortune. Yes, my
child, resumed the archbishop, whose speech had been cut short by
the rapidity of my prostration, I mean to make you the receiver-
general of all my inmost ruminations. Hearken attentively to what
I am going to say. I have a great pleasure in preaching. The Lord
sheds a blessing on my homilies; they sink deep into the hearts
of sinners; set up a glass in which vice sees its own image, and
bring back many from the paths of error into the high road of
repentance. What a heavenly sight, when a miser, scared at the
hideous picture drawn by my eloquence of his avarice, opens his
coffers to the poor and needy, and dispenses the accumulated
store with a liberal hand! The voluptuary, too, is snatched from
the pleasures of the table; ambition flies at my command to the
wholesome discipline of the monastic cell; while female frailty,
tottering on the brink of ruin, with one ear open to the siren
voice of the seducer, and the other to my saintly correctives, is
restored to domestic happiness and the approving smile of heaven,
by the timely warnings of the pulpit. These miraculous
conversions, which happen almost every Sunday, ought of
themselves to goad me on in the career of saving souls.
Nevertheless, to conceal no part of my weakness from my monitor,
there is another reward on which my heart is intent, a reward
which the seraphic scrupulousness of my virtue to little purpose
condemns as too carnal; a literary reputation for a sublime and
elegant style. The honour of being handed down to posterity as a
perfect pulpit orator has its irresistible attractions. My
compositions are generally thought to be equally powerful and
persuasive; but I could wish of all things to steer clear of the
rock on which good authors split, who are too long before the
public, and to retire from professional life with my reputation
in undiminished lustre.

To this end, my dear Gil Blas, continued the prelate, there is
one thing requisite from your zeal and friendship. Whenever it
shall strike you that my pen begins to contract, as it were, the
ossification of old age, whenever you see my genius in its
climacteric, do not fail to give me a hint. There is no trusting
to one's self in such a case; pride and conceit were the original
sin of man. The probe of criticism must he intrusted to an
impartial stander-by, of fine talents and unshaken probity. Both
those requisites centre in you: you are my choice, and I give
myself up to your direction. Heaven be praised, my lord, said I,
there is no need to trouble yourself with any such thoughts yet.
Besides, an understanding of your grace's mould and calibre will
last out double the time of a common genius; or to speak with
more certainty and truth, it will never be the worse for wear, if
you live to the age of Methusalem. I consider you as a second
Cardinal Ximenes, whose powers, superior to decay, instead of
flagging with years, seemed to derive new vigour from their
approximation with the heavenly regions. No flattery, my friend!
interrupted he. I know myself to be in danger of failing all at
once. At my age one begins to be sensible of infirmities, and
those of the body communicate with the mind. I repeat it to you,
Gil Blas, as soon as you shall be of opinion that my head is not
so clear as usual, give me warning of it instantly. Do not be
afraid of offending by frankness and sincerity, to put me in mind
of my own frailty will be the strongest proof of your affection
for me. Besides, your very interest is concerned in it, for if it
should, by any spite of chance towards you, come to my ears that
the people say in town, "His grace's sermons produce no longer
their accustomed impression, it is time for him to abandon his
pulpit to younger candidates," I do assure you most seriously and
solemnly, you will not only lose my friendship, but the provision
for life that I have promised you. Such will be the result of
your silly tampering with truth.

Here my patron left off to wait for my answer, which was an echo
of his speech, and a promise of obeying him in all things. From
that moment there were no secrets from me; I became the prime
favourite. All the household, except Melchior de la Ronda, looked
at me with an eye of envy. It was curious to observe the manner
in which the whole establishment, from the highest to the lowest,
thought it necessary to demean themselves towards his grace's
confidential secretary; there was no meanness to which they would
not stoop to curry favour with me; I could scarcely believe they
were Spaniards. I left no stone unturned to be of service to
them, without being taken in by their interested assiduities. My
lord archbishop, at my entreaty, took them by the hand. He got a
company for one, and fitted him out so as to make a handsome
figure in the army. Another he sent to Mexico, with a
considerable appointment which he procured him; and I obtained a
good slice of his bounty for my friend Melchior. It was evident
from these facts, that if the prelate was not particularly active
in good works, at least he rarely gave a churlish refusal, when
any one had the courage to importune him for his benevolence.

But what I did for a priest seems to deserve being noticed more
at large. One day a certain licentiate, by name Lewis Garcias, a
well-looking man still in the prime of life, was presented to me
by our steward, who said -- Signor Gil Blas, in this honest
ecclesiastic you behold one of my best friends. He was formerly
chaplain to a nunnery. Scandal has taken a few liberties with his
chastity. Malicious stories have been trumped up to hurt him in
my lord archbishop's opinion, who has suspended him, and
unfortunately is so strongly prejudiced by his enemies, as to be
deaf to any petition in his favour. In vain have we interested
the first people in Grenada to get him re-established; our master
will not hear of it.

These first people in Grenada, said I, have gone the wrong way to
work. It would have been much better if no interest at all had
been made for the reverend licentiate. People have only done him
a mischief by endeavouring to serve him. I know my lord
archbishop thoroughly: entreaties and importunate recommendations
do but aggravate the ill condition of a clergyman who lies under
his displeasure: it is but a very short time ago since I heard
him mutter the following sentiment to himself The more persons a
priest, who has been guilty of any misconduct, engages to speak
to me in his behalf, the more widely is the scandal of the church
disseminated, and the more severe is my treatment of the
offender. That is very unlucky, replied the steward; and my
friend would be put to his last shifts if he did not write a good
hand. But, happily, he has the pen of a ready scribe, and keeps
his head above water by the exercise of that talent. I was
curious to see whether this boasted hand writing was so much
better than my own. The licentiate, who had a specimen in his
pocket, shewed me a sheet which I admired very much: it had all
the regularity of a writing-master's copy. In looking over this
model of penman ship, an idea occurred to me. I begged Garcia to
leave this paper in my hands, saying, that I might be able to do
something with it which should turn out to his advantage; that I
could not explain myself at that moment, but would tell him more
the next day. The licentiate, to whom the steward had evidently
talked big about my capacity to serve him, withdrew in as good
spirits as if he had already been restored to his functions.

I was in earnest in my endeavour that he should be so, and lost
no time in setting to work. Happening to be alone with the
archbishop, I produced the specimen. My patron was delighted with
it. Seizing on this favourable opportunity, May it please your
grace, said I, since you are determined not to put your homilies
to the press, I should very much like them at last to be
transcribed in this masterly manner.

I am very well satisfied with your performance, answered the
prelate, but yet I own that it would be a pleasant thing enough
to have a copy of my works in that hand. Your grace, replied I,
has only to signify your wishes. The man who copies so well is a
licentiate of my acquaintance. It will give him so much the more
pleasure to gratify you, as it may be the means of interesting
your goodness to extricate him from the melancholy situation to
which he has the misfortune at present to be reduced.

The prelate could not do otherwise than inquire the name of this
licentiate. I told him it was Lewis Garcias. He is in despair at
having drawn down your censure upon him. That Garcias,
interrupted he, if I am not mistaken, was chaplain in a convent
of nuns, and has been brought into the ecclesiastical court as a
delinquent. I recollect some very heavy charges which have been
sent me against him. His morals are not the most exemplary. May
it please your grace, interrupted I in my turn, it is not for me
to justify him in all points; but I know that he has enemies. He
maintains that the authors of the informations you have received
are more bent on doing him an ill office than on vindicating the
purity of religion. That very possibly may be the case, replied
the archbishop; there are a great many firebrands in the world.
Besides, though we should take it for granted that his conduct
has not always been above suspicion, he may have repented of his
sins; in short, the mercies of heaven are infinite, however
heinous our transgressions. Bring that licentiate before me, I
take off his suspension.

Thus it is that men of the most austere character descend from
their altitudes, when interest or a favourite whim reduces them
to the level of the frail. The archbishop granted, without a
struggle, to the empty vanity of having his works well copied,
what he had refused to the most respectable applications. I
carried the news with all possible expedition to the steward, who
communicated it to his friend Garcias. That licentiate, on the
following day, came to return me thanks commensurate with the
favour obtained. I presented him to my master, who contented
himself with giving him a slight reprimand, and put the homilies
into his hand, to copy them out fair. Garcias performed the task
so satisfactorily, that he was reinstated in the cure of souls,
and was afterwards preferred to the living of Gabia, a large
market town in the neighbourhood of Grenada.


CH. IV. -- The Archbishop is afflicted with a stroke of apoplexy.
How Gil Blas gets into a dilemma, and how he gets out.

WHILE I was thus rendering myself a blessing first to one and
then to the other, Don Ferdinand de Leyva was making his
arrangements for leaving Grenada. I called on that nobleman
before his departure, to thank him once more for the advantageous
post he had procured me. My expressions of satisfaction were so
lively, that he said -- My dear Gil Blas, I am delighted to find
you in such good humour with my uncle the archbishop. I am
absolutely in love with him, answered I. His goodness to me has
been such as I can never sufficiently acknowledge. Less than my
present happiness could never have made me amends for being at so
great a distance from Don Caesar and his son. I am persuaded,
replied he, that they are both of them equally chagrined at
having lost you. But possibly you are not separated for ever;
fortune may some day bring you together again. I could not hear
such an idea started without being moved by it. My sighs would
find vent; and I felt at that moment so strong an affection for
Don Alphonso, that I could willingly have turned my back on the
archbishop and all the fine prospects that were opening to me,
and have gone back to the castle of Leyva, had but a
mortification taken place in the back of the scarecrow which had
frightened me away. Don Ferdinand was not insensible to the
emotions that agitated me, and felt himself so much obliged by
them, that he took his leave with the assurance of the whole
family always taking an anxious interest in my fate.

Two months after this worthy gentleman had left us, in the
luxuriant harvest of my highest favour, a lowering storm came
suddenly over the episcopal palace; the archbishop had a stroke
of apoplexy. By dint of immediate applications and good nursing,
in a few days there was no bodily appearance of disease
remaining. But his reverend intellects did not so easily recover
from their lethargy. I could not help observing it to myself in
the very first discourse that he composed. Yet there was not such
a wide gap between the merits of the present and the former ones,
as to warrant the inference that the sun of oratory was many
degrees advanced in its post-meridian course. A second homily was
worth waiting for; because that would clearly determine the line
of my conduct. Alas, and well-a-day! when that second homily
came, it was a knock-down argument. Sometimes the good prelate
moved forward, and sometimes he moved backwards; sometimes he
mounted up into the garret; and sometimes dipped down into the
cellar. It was a composition of more sound than meaning,
something like a superannuated schoolmaster's theme, when he
attempts to give his boys more sense than he possesses of his
own, or like a capuchin's sermon, which only scatters a few
artificial flowers of paltry rhetoric over a barren desert of
doctrine.

I was not the only person whom the alteration struck. The
audience at large, when he delivered it, as if they too had been
pledged to watch the advances of dotage, said to one another in a
whisper all round the church -- Here is a sermon, with symptoms
of apoplexy in every paragraph. Come, my good Coryphaeus of the
public taste in homilies, said I then to myself prepare to do
your office. You see that my lord archbishop is going very fast -
- you ought to warn him of it, not only as his bosom friend, on
whose sincerity he relies, but lest some blunt fellow should
anticipate you, and bolt out the truth in an offensive manner. In
that case you know the consequence; you would be struck out of
his will, where no doubt you have a more convertible bequest than
the licentiate Sйdillo's library.

But as reason, like Janus, looks at things with two faces, I
began to consider the other side of the question; the hint seemed
difficult to wrap up so as to make it palatable. Authors in
general are stark mad on the subject of their own works, and such
an author might be more testy than the common herd of the
irritable race: but that suspicion seemed illiberal on my part,
for it was impossible that my freedom should he taken amiss, when
it had been forced upon me by so positive an injunction. Add to
this, that I reckoned upon handling the subject skilfully, and
cramming discretion down his throat like a high-seasoned
epicurean dish. After all my pro and con, finding that I risked
more by keeping silence than by breaking it, I determined to
venture on the delicate duty of speaking my mind.

Now there was but one difficulty; a difficulty indeed! how to
open the business. Luckily the orator himself extricated me from
that embarrassment, by asking what they said of him in the world
at large, and whether people were tolerably well pleased with his
last discourse. I answered that there could be but one opinion
about his homilies; but that it should seem as if the last had
not quite struck home to the hearts of the audience, like those
which had gone before. Do you really mean what you say, my
friend? replied he, with a sort of wriggling surprise. Then my
congregation are more in the temper of Aristarchus than of
Longinus! No, may it please your grace, rejoined I, quite the
contrary. Performances of that order are above the reach of
vulgar criticism: there is not a soul but expects to be saved by
their influence. Nevertheless, since you have made it my duty to
be sincere and unreserved, I shall take the liberty of just
stating that your last discourse is not written with quite the
overpowering eloquence and conclusive argument of your former
ones. Does not your grace feel just as I do on the subject?

This ignorant and stupid frankness of mine completely blanched my
master's cheek; but he forced a fretful smile, and said -- Then,
good Master Gil Blas, that piece does not exactly hit your fancy?
I did not mean to say that, your grace, interrupted I, looking
very foolish. It is very far superior to what any one else could
produce, though a little below par with respect to your own works
in general. I know what you mean, replied he. You think I am
going down hill, do not you? Out with it at once. It is your
opinion that it is time for me to think of retiring? I should
never have had the presumption, said I, to deliver myself with so
little reserve, if it had not been your grace's express command.
I act in entire obedience to your grace's orders; and I most
obsequiously implore your grace not to take offence at my
boldness. I were unfit to live in a Christian land! interrupted
he, with stammering impatience; I were unfit to live in a
Christian land if I liked you the less for such a Christian
virtue as sincerity. A man who does not love sincerity sets his
face against the distinguishing mark between a friend and a
flatterer. I should have given you infinite credit for speaking
what you thought, if you had thought anything that deserved to be
spoken. I have been finely taken in by your outside shew of
cleverness, without any solid foundation of sober judgment!

Though completely unhorsed, and at the enemy's mercy, I wanted to
make terms of decent capitulation, and to go unmolested into
winter quarters: but let those who think to appease an
exasperated author, and especially an author whose ear has been
long attuned to the music of his own praises, take warning by my
fate. Let us talk no more on the subject, my very young friend,
said he. You are as yet scarcely in the rudiments of good taste,
and utterly incompetent to distinguish between gold and tinsel.
You are yet to lean that I never in all my life composed a finer
homily than that unfortunate one which had not the honour of your
approbation. The immortal part of me, by the blessing of heaven
on me and my congregation, is less weighed down by human
infirmity than when the flesh was stronger. We all grow wiser as
we grow older, and I shall in future select the people about me
with more caution; nor submit the castigation of my works but to
a much abler critic than yourself. Get about your business!
pursued he, giving me an angry shove by the shoulders out of his
closet; go and tell my treasurer to pay you a hundred ducats, and
take my priestly blessing in addition to that sum. God speed you,
good Master Gil Blas! I heartily pray that you may do well in the
world! There is nothing to stand in your way, but the want of a
little better taste.


CH. V. -- The course which Gil Blas took after the archbishop had
given him his dismissal. His accidental meeting with the
licentiate who was so deeply in his debt, and a picture of
gratitude in the person of a parson.

I MADE the best of my way out of the closet, cursing the caprice,
or more properly the dotage of the archbishop, and more in
dudgeon at his absurdity, than cast down at the loss of his good
graces. For some time it was a moot point whether I should go and
lay claim to my hundred ducats; but after having weighed the
matter dispassionately, I was not such a fool as to quarrel with
my bread and butter. There was no reason why that money, fairly
earned, should deprive me of my natural right to make a joke of
this ridiculous prelate; in which good deed I promised myself not
to be wanting, as often as himself or his homilies were brought
upon the carpet in my hearing.

I went therefore and asked the treasurer for a hundred ducats,
without telling a word about the literary warfare between his
master and me. Afterwards I called on Melchior de la Ronda, to
take a long leave of him. He was too much my friend not to
sympathize with my misfortune. While I was telling my story
vexation was strongly imprinted on my countenance. In spite of
all his respect for the archbishop, he could not help blaming
him; but, when in the fever of my resentment I threatened to be a
match for the prelate, and to entertain the whole city at his
expense, the prudent Melchior gave me a salutary caution: Take my
advice, my dear Gil Blas, and rather pocket the affront. Men of a
lower sphere in life should always be cap in hand to people of
quality, whatever may be their grounds of complaint. It must be
admitted, there are some very coarse specimens of greatness,
which in themselves are scarcely deserving of the least respect
or attention; but even such animals have their weapons of
annoyance, and it is best to keep out of their way.

I thanked the old valet-de-chambre for the good counsel he had
given me, and promised to be guided by it. Pleased with my
deference to his opinion, he said to me: If you go to Madrid, be
sure you call upon my nephew, Joseph Navarro. He is factotum in
the family of Signor Don Balthazar de Zunigna, and I can venture
to recommend him as a lad in every respect worthy of your
friendship. He is just as nature made him, with all the vivacity
of youth, courteous in his manners, and forward to oblige; I
could wish you to get acquainted with him. I answered that I
would not fail to go and see this Joseph Navarro as soon as I
should get to Madrid, whither I meant to return in due time. Then
did I turn my back on the episcopal palace, never to grace it
with my presence again. If I had kept my horse, I should perhaps
have set out for Toledo immediately; but I had sold it during the
period of my administration, supposing that I was in office for
life, and should not henceforward be migratory. My final
resolution was to hire a ready-furnished lodging, as I had made
up my mind to stay another month in Grenada, and then to pay the
Count de Polan a visit.

As dinner-hour was drawing nigh, I asked my landlady if there was
any eating-house in the neighbourhood. She answered that there
was a very good one within a few yards of her house, where the
accommodations were excellent, and the company select and
numerous. I made her shew me where it was, and went thither sharp
set. I was shewn into a large room, resembling the hall of a
monastery in everything but good cheer. There were ten or a dozen
men sitting at a long table, with a cloth spread over it that
fretted in its own grease; but they, with unoffended nostrils,
were engaged in general conversation, though they dined
individually, each having a miserable scrap for his portion. The
people of the house brought me my allowance, which at another
time would have turned my stomach, and have made me sigh after
the luxuries of the table I had just lost. But at this moment I
was so indignant against the archbishop, that the homely fare of
a paltry eating-house seemed more palatable than the dainties of
his sumptuous board. It was a burning shame to see such a waste
of provisions served up in soups and sauces to pamper the
appetite. Arguing like a deep examiner in the economy of the
human frame, and reasoning medically as well as philosophically,
on the disproportion between the simple wants of nature and the
complexity of luxurious indulgence; cursed be they, said I, who
invented those pernicious dinners and suppers, where one must sit
on the tenterhooks of self-denial, for fear of overloading the
storehouse and shop of the whole body! Man wants but little here
below; and provided he can but keep body and soul together, the
less he eats the better. Thus did I, in my surly vein, give
utterance to wise saws; which, however just in theory, had
hitherto been little recommended by my practice.

While I was dispatching my commons, without any danger of a
surfeit from repletion, the licentiate Lewis Garcias, who had got
the living of Gabia in the manner above-mentioned, came into the
room. The moment he recognized me, he ran into my arms with all
the cordiality of friendship, or rather with the extravagant joy
of a lover after a long exile from his mistress. He folded me
repeatedly within his sincere embrace, and I was compelled to
stand the brunt of a long-winded compliment on the unparalleled
disinterestedness of my conduct towards him. Gratitude is a fine
virtue; and yet it is wearisome when carried beyond due bounds!
He took his seat next me, saying: Well! a parson must not swear;
though by the mass, my dear patron, since my good fortune has
thrown me in your way, we will not part without a jovial glass.
But as there is no good wine in this shabby inn, I will take you,
if you please, after our make-shift dinner, to a place where I
will treat you with a couple of bottles, rich, genuine, and old,
in comparison of which the Falernian of Horace was all a farce.
The church will give us absolution, in the cause of gratitude! If
I could but get you for a few days down at my parsonage of Gabia!
Maecenas was never more welcome to the poet's Sabine farm, than
the author of all my ease and comfort to the choicest produce of
a glebe which is mine only by your benevolence.

While he was holding this high-flown language, his little slice
of dinner was set before him. He fell to without the fear of
indigestion before his eyes, still heightening the luxury of the
repast at intervals, by fine speeches addressed to me in the most
fulsome style of flattery. I took the opportunity, when his mouth
was filled with something more substantial, to edge in a word or
two amidst the torrent; and as he had not forgotten to ask after
his friend the steward, I made no bones about acknowledging that
I was no longer a hanger-on of the church. I even went so far as
to particularize the most trivial circumstances attending my
resignation, to all of which he listened with an attentive ear.
After all his fine professions, who would not have expected to
see him moved even to tears with the throes of resentful
gratitude, to hear him thunder bulls and interdicts against the
superannuated archbishop? The devil a bit! he did neither the one
thing nor the other. But his countenance fell, and his whole air
was that of an absent man; the rest of his dinner was bolted down
without the garnish of intermediate talk about Maecenas; as soon
as he had done, he hurried from table without minding grace or
gratitude, wished me good day with a cold and distant air, and
got off as fast as possible. The unfeeling scoundrel, perceiving
that I was no longer in a situation for him to pump anything out
of me, would not even take the trouble to draw a decent veil over
his dirty principles. But such a blackguard could excite no other
sensation than contempt and laughter. Looking at him with
derision, the fittest chastisement for fellows like these, I
called after him loud enough to be heard by the whole room: Stop
there, you nun's priest! Go and put those two bottles in ice
against Maecenas comes to the Sabine farm! Be sure they are rich,
genuine, and old; or they will be a farce to Falernian.


CH. VI. -- Gil Blas goes to the play at Grenada. His surprise at
seeing one of the actresses, and what happened thereupon.

No sooner had Garcias rid the room of his presence, than two
gentlemen came in, extremely well dressed, and took their seats
close by me. They began talking about the players of the Grenada
company, and about a new piece which just then had a great run.
According to their account, it was quite the town talk. Nothing
would do for me, but to go and see it that very day. I had never
been at the play since my residence at Grenada. As I had lived
nearly the whole time in the archbishop's palace, where all such
profane shews were condemned as uncanonical, I had been cut off
from every recreation of that sort. All my knowledge of men and
manners was drawn from homilies!

I repaired therefore to the theatre at the appointed hour, and
found a very full house. All around me, discussions were going on
about the piece before the curtain drew up; and there was not a
soul in the numerous assembly but had some remark to make upon
it. One liked it, another could not bear it. Do not you think the
dialogue is particularly happy? said a candid critic on my right.
Was there ever such miserable stuff! cried a snarling critic on
my left. In good truth, if bad authors abound, it must be
admitted that the public are at variance about what is good and
what is bad: but the bad judges have a right to be pleased for
their money; and as they far outnumber the good ones, their
favourite writers can never want employment. When one only
considers through what an ordeal dramatic poets have to pass, it
is a matter of wonder that any should be found hardy enough at
once to contend against the ignorance of the multitude, and the
random shot of those self-created guides in matters of taste, who
always pretend to lead the blindness of the public judgment, and
too frequently push it into the mire of absurdity.

At length the buffoon of the piece came forward by way of
prologue. As soon as his grotesque countenance was visible, there
was a general clapping of hands; a sure indication of his being
one of those spoiled actors, who are allowed to take any
liberties with the pit, and to be applauded through thick and
thin, in fact, this player neither opened his lips, nor moved a
muscle, without exciting the most extravagant raptures. He would
have performed better, had he been less conscious what a
favourite he was. But he presumed on that circumstance most
abominably. I observed that he sometimes forgot what was set down
for him, and took the licence of adding to his part out of his
own free fancy; a common cause of complaint against low
comedians, which, though it make the unskilful laugh, cannot but
make the judicious grieve. Would the audience but receive such
mirth with hisses, instead of crying bravo, they might restrain
the absurd practice, and purge the stage from barbarism.

Some of the other performers were greeted with the usual tokens
on their entrance, and particularly an actress who played the
chambermaid. There was something about her which more than
usually attracted my attention; and language must sink under the
labour of expressing my astonishment at tracing the features of
Laura, that fair, that chaste, that inexpressible she, whom I
supposed to be still at Madrid, warbling in one key, with hands,
sides, voice, and mind incorporate with Arsenia. But there could
be no doubt of her identity. The kick in her gallop, the leer in
her eye, and the tripping pertness of her tongue, all conspired
in evidence that there could be no mistake. Yet, as if I had
refused belief to the affidavit of my own eyes and ears, I asked
her name of a gentleman who was sitting beside me. What the
deuce! Why, where do you come from? said he. You must
unquestionably be a new importation, not to have seen or heard of
the divine Estella.

The likeness was too perfect for me to be mistaken. It was easy
to comprehend why Laura, changing her sphere of action, changed
her name also; wherefore from curiosity to know how matters stood
with her, since the public always pry into the most private
concerns of theatrical persons, I inquired of the same man
whether this Estella had any particular affair of gallantry on
her hands. He informed me that for the last two months there had
been a great Portuguese nobleman at Grenada, his name was the
Marquis de Marialva, who had laid out a great deal of money upon
her. He might have told me more, if I had not been afraid of
becoming troublesome with my questions. I was better employed in
musing on the information this good gentleman had given me, than
in attending to the play; and if any one had asked me what it was
all about, when the piece was over, I should have been puzzled
for an answer. I could do nothing but decline Laura and Estella
through all cases and numbers; till at length I boldly made up my
mind to call at her house the next day. Not but there was some
risk as to the reception she might give me: it might be
suspected, without excess of modesty, that my appearance would
give her no great pleasure in the high tide of her affairs; nor
was it at all improbable that so good an actress, to revenge
herself on a man, with whom certainly she had an account to
settle, might look strange, and swear she had never seen his face
before. Yet did none of these apprehensions deter me from my
venture. After a light supper, for all the meals at my eating-
house were regulated on principles of economy and temperance, I
withdrew to my chamber with an anxious longing for the next day.

My sleep was short and interrupted; so that I got up by daybreak.
But as it was to be recollected that a mistress in high keep was
not likely to be visible early in the morning, I passed three or
four hours in dressing, shaving, powdering, and perfuming. It was
my business to present myself before her in a trim, not to put
her to the blush at acknowledging my acquaintance. I sallied
forth about ten o'clock, and knocked at her door, after having
inquired her address at the theatre. She was living on the first
floor of a large and elegant house. I told a chambermaid who
opened the door to me, that a young man wanted to speak with her
lady. The chambermaid went in to give my message, when all at
once I heard her mistress call out, not in the best-tempered tone
in the world, Who is the young man? What does he want? Shew him
up stairs.

This was a hint to me that my time was ill chosen; that probably
her Portuguese lover was at her toilette, and that she spoke so
loud, with the laudable design of convincing him that she was not
a sort of girl to allow of any impertinent intruders. This
conjecture of mine turned out to be the fact; the Marquis de
Marialva lounged away almost every morning with her: I had made
up my mind to be kicked down-stairs by way of welcome; but that
admirable actress, never forgetting her cue, ran forward with
open arms at the sight of me, exclaiming: Ah! my dear brother, is
it you that I behold? On the strength of so near a kindred, she
was no niggard of her embraces; but recollected her self so far
as to say, turning round to the Portuguese, My lord, you must
excuse me if nature will put in her claim, and trench upon good
breeding. After three years of absence, I cannot see a brother
once again, whom I love so tenderly, without expressing my
feelings in all their warmth. Come! my dear Gil Blas, continued
she, addressing me afresh, tell me some news of the family: in
what circumstances did you leave it?

This whimsical scene disconcerted me at first; but I was not long
in seeing through Laura's intention; and playing up to her with a
spirit scarcely less than her own, answered according to the
plot: Heaven be praised, sister, all our good folks are in
perfect health, and well in the world. I make no doubt, resumed
she, but you must be very much surprised to find me an actress in
Grenada; but hear me first and blame me afterwards. It is three
years, as you may recollect, since my father thought to have
established me advantageously in marriage with Don Antonio
Coello, an officer in the service, who took me from the Asturias
to Madrid, his native place. Six months after our arrival, he got
into an affair of honour in consequence of his violent temper.
Some attentions incautiously paid to me were the cause of the
affray, and his antagonist was killed. This gentle man was of a
family high in rank and interest. My husband, who though well
born, had very few connections, made his escape into Catalonia
with every thing he could get together in jewels and ready money.
He embarked at Barcelona, went over into Italy, enlisted in the
Venetian service, and finally lost his life in the Morea,
fighting against the Turks. In the mean time, a landed estate
which constituted our whole revenue was confiscated, and I was
left a widow with very little for my support. What was to be done
in so pressing an emergency? There was nothing left to pay my
travelling expenses back into the Asturias. And then what should
I have done there? I should have got nothing from my family but a
long string of condolences, which would have furnished me neither
with food nor with raiment. On the other hand, I had been too
well brought up to fall into those courses, into which too many
poor young women are betrayed for the sake of a scandalous
subsistence. There was but one thing remaining for me to
determine on. I turned actress to preserve my morals.

So tingling a sense of ridicule came over me, when Laura wound up
her romance with this pious motive for turning actress, that I
could scarcely refrain from relieving myself by a fit of
laughter. But gravity was of too much consequence to be dispensed
with; and I said to her with an air the counterpart of her own --
My dear sister, I entirely approve of your conduct, and am
heartily glad to meet with you at Grenada, and moreover settled
on so respectable a footing.

The Marquis de Marialva, who had not lost a word of all these
fine speeches, swallowed down blindfold whatever Don Antonio's
widow thought fit to drench his credulity with. He took part in
the conversation too, and asked me whether I had any fixed
employment in Grenada or elsewhere, I paused for a moment to
consider whether and after what manner I should lie; but as there
seemed no need in this case to draw on my invention, I told the
truth by way of variety. In a plain matter of fact manner did I
rehearse my introduction to the archbishop's palace, and my
discharge therefrom, to the infinite amusement of his Portuguese
lordship. To be sure, in telling the truth, I did not keep my
word, for I could not help launching out a little at the
archbishop's expense, in spite of my solemn promise given to
Melchior. But the best of the joke was, that Laura, taking my
story for a fiction invented after her example, burst out into
peals of laughter: whereas the whimsicality of the circumstance
would have raised a soberer mirth, had she known it to have been
alloyed with the base ingredient of veracity.

After having come to the end of my tale, which closed with just
mentioning the lodging I had taken, dinner was announced. I
instantly motioned to with draw, as if intending to take that
frugal meal at home; but Laura would not hear of it. Do you mean
to affront me, brother! said she. You must dine here. Indeed, I
cannot think of your staying any longer at a paltry inn. You must
positively board and lodge in my house. Send your trunks hither
this very evening; there is a spare bed for you.

His Portuguese lordship, possibly not altogether relishing this
excess of hospitality even to a brother, then interfered between
us, and said to Laura -- No, Estella, you have not sufficient
accommodation to give him a bed without inconvenience. Your
brother seems to be a clever young fellow; and the circumstance
of his being so nearly related to you, gives him a strong claim
on my kindness. He shall be put at once upon my establishment. I
am in want of a secretary, and shall delight in giving him the
appointment: he shall be my right-hand man. Let him be sure to
come and sleep at my house this very night; I will order a room
to be got ready for him. I will fix his regular salary at four
hundred ducats; and if on better acquaintance I have reason as I
trust I shall, to be satisfied with him, I will place him in a
situation to laugh at the consequences of having been a little
too plain-spoken with his patron the archbishop.

My acknowledgments to the marquis for this high honour were
followed by those of Laura, who far exceeded me in powers of
panegyric. Let us drop the subject, interrupted he; it is a
settled point Settled as it was, he confirmed the contract on the
lips of his green-room Dulcinea, and went his way. She
immediately pulled me by the arm into a closet, where, secure
from interruption, she cried out, Cut my laces! I shall burst if
I do not give way at once to the fit of laughter that is coming
over me. And so she probably would; for she threw herself into an
arm-chair, and holding both her sides, shouted out her convulsive
peal of mirth like a mad woman. It was impossible for me to
refrain from following her example. When we had exhausted our
risible propensities, Own, Gil Blas, said she, that we have just
been acting a very humorous farce. But I did not look for the
concluding scene. My only thought was to secure you board and
lodging under my own roof; and there was no other possibility of
making the proposition in a modest way but by passing you off for
my brother. But I am heartily glad that the chapter of accidents
has opened with so good a berth for you. The Marquis de Marialva
is a noble man of liberal and honourable sentiments, who will be
better than his word in what he does for you. But confess now!
There is scarcely a woman in existence except myself would have
given so coming-on a reception to a fellow who shirks his friends
without saying with your leave or by your leave. I however am one
of those simple-hearted girls, who are glad to receive back again
the base man they have once loved, though he should have offended
and repented seven, or even seven thousand times.

The best way for me was to acknowledge the extreme ill-breeding
of which I had been guilty, to blush and beg pardon once for all.
After this explanation, she led the way to a very handsome
dining-room. We placed ourselves at table, where having a
chambermaid and a footboy for eye-witnesses, we kept within the
bounds of brother and sister. When we had done dinner, we went
back again into the same closet where we had been conversing
before. Having our time to ourselves, my paragon of a Laura,
giving herself up to her natural love of merriment, and to her no
less natural curiosity, required from me a faithful and true
narrative of all my pros and cons, my ins and outs, since that
unmannerly separation of ours. I gave her a full and particular
account: nothing extenuating on my own behalf, nor setting down
aught in malice on the other side. When I had quenched her thirst
after a story, she slaked mine, by communicating the particulars
of her eventful life to the following effect.


CH. VII. -- Laura's Story.

I SHALL just run over to you, as briefly as possible, the
circumstances which led me to embrace the theatrical profession.

After you took French leave, so much to your credit, great events
happened. My mistress Arsenia, more surfeited with a glut of
pleasures than scandalized at their immorality, renounced the
stage, and took me with her to a fine estate which she had just
purchased in the neighbourhood of Zenora with the wages of her
sinful life. We soon got acquainted in the town. Our visits there
were very frequent; and sometimes for a day or two together. With
the exception of these little excursions, we were as closely
domesticated as probationers in a nunnery, and almost as piously
employed.

On one of our high days and holidays, Don Felix Moldonado, the
corregidor's only son, saw me by chance, and took a liking to me.
He soon found an opportunity of speaking with me in private; and,
as it is in vain to affect modesty before one who knows me so
well, there was some little contrivance of my own to bring the
interview about. The young gentleman was not twenty years of age;
the very picture of Venus's sweetheart, or Venus's sweetheart the
very picture of him; with a form for a sculptor to work from;
with an address so elegant, and with sentiments so generous, as
to throw even his personal graces into the background. There was
such a winning way with him, so pressing an earnestness to
prevail, when he took a large diamond from his own finger, and
slid it upon mine, that it would have been quite brutal not to
have let it stay there. It was really something like sentiment
that I began to entertain towards a swain of so interesting a
character. But what an absurd thing it is for wenches of a
certain sort to hook themselves upon young men of family, when
their surly fathers hold official situations! The corregidor, who
had scarcely his equal in the whole tribe of corregidors, got
wind of our correspondence, and determined to close it in a
summary manner. He sent a host of alguazils to take me into
custody, who dragged me away, in spite of my cries and tears, to
the house of correction for female penitents.

There, without bill of indictment or form of trial, the lady
abbess ordered me to be stripped of my ring and my clothes, and
to be dressed in the habit of the institution; a long gown of
grey serge tied about the middle with a strap of black leather,
whence depended a rosary with large beads swinging down to my
heels. After this pleasant reception, they took me into a hall,
where there was an old monk, the deuce knows of what order, who
set to work preaching up repentance and resignation, pretty much
in the same strain as Dame Leonarda, when she exhorted you to
patience in the subterraneous cavern. He told me that I was
excessively obliged indeed to those good people who had so kindly
shut me up, and could never thank them sufficiently for their
good deed, in rescuing me from the harpy talons of the world, the
flesh, and the devil. But I must frankly own that all my other
sins were pressed down and heaped high with ingratitude: far from
overflowing with the milk of human kindness towards those who had
conferred such a favour upon me, I abused them in terms that
would have put any dictionary to the blush.

Eight days thus passed in this wilderness of desolation; but on
the ninth, for I had notched the hours and even the minutes on a
stick, my fate seemed be ginning to take another turn. Crossing a
little court, I met the house steward, a personage whose will was
absolute; yes, the lady abbess herself was obedient to his will.
He rendered an account of his stewardship to none but the
corregidor, on whom alone he was dependent, and whose confidence
in him was unbounded. His name was Pedro Zendono, and the town of
Salsedon in Biscay laid claim to the honour of his birth. Figure
to yourself a tall man, with the complexion of a mummy and the
bare anatomy of a dealer in mortification; he might have sat for
the penitent thief in a picture of the crucifixion. He scarcely
ever cast a carnal glance towards us Magdalens. You never saw
such a face of rank hypocrisy in all your life, though you have
spent some part of it under the same roof with the archbishop,
and are not unacquainted with the clergy of his diocese.

But to return from this digression; . . . . I met this Signor
Zendono, who said to me slily as he passed -- Take comfort, my
girl, I am sensibly affected with your wretched case. He said no
more, and went on his way, leaving me to make my own comments on
so concise and general a text As he looked like a good man, and
there was no positive evidence to set against his looks, I was
simpleton enough to fancy that he had taken the trouble of
inquiring why I was shut up; and meant, not finding me so
atrocious a culprit as to deserve such shameful insults, to take
my part with the corregidor. But I was not up to the tricks of
the Biscayan, he had a much longer head. He was turning over in
his mind the scheme of an elopement, and made the proposal to me
in profound privacy some days afterwards. My dear Laura, said he,
your sufferings have taken such deep possession of my mind, that
I have determined to end them. I am perfectly aware that my own
ruin is involved in the measure, but needs must when the tender
passion drives. To-morrow morning do I intend to take you out of
prison, and conduct you in person to Madrid. No sacrifice is too
great for the pleasure of being your deliverer.

I was very near fainting with surprise and joy at this promise of
Zendono, who, concluding from my acknowledgments that my very
life depended on my rescue, had the effrontery to carry me off
next day in the face of the whole town, by the following device:
-- He told the lady abbess that he had orders to take me before
the corregidor, who was at his country box a few miles off; and
without betraying himself by a single change of countenance,
packed me off, with him for my companion, in a post-chaise drawn
by two good mules which he had bought for the occasion. Our only
attendant was the driver, a servant of his own, and entirely
devoted to the steward by stronger ties than those of gratitude.
We began bowling away, not in the direction of Madrid, as I had
taken for granted, but towards the frontiers of Portugal, whither
we got in less time than it took the corregidor of Zamora to
receive the deposition of our flight, and uncouple his pack or
set them barking at our heels.

Before we entered Braganza, the Biscayan made me put on man's
clothes, with which he had taken the precaution of providing
himself. Reckoning on me as being fairly launched in the same
boat with him, he said to me in the inn where we put up, Lovely
Laura, do not take it unkindly of me to have brought you into
Portugal. The corregidor of Zamora will make our own country too
hot to hold us, for in his eyes we are two criminals, under the
weight of whose enormities it is not for Spain to groan. But we
may set his malice at defiance in this distant realm, though at
the present conjuncture under the dominion of the Spanish
monarchy. At least we shall stand a better chance for safety here
than at home. League your fortunes with those of a man who would
follow you in prosperity or in adversity through the world. Let
us fix our residence at Coimbra. There I will get employed as a
spy for the inquisition; under the cover of that formidable
tribunal, a refreshing shade for us, but Cimmerian darkness to
its victims, our days will glide smoothly on in ease and
pleasure, we shall fatten on the spoil of religious delinquency.

A proposal so much to the point gave me to understand that I had
to do with a knight, who had other motives for officiating as the
guardian of distressed damsels, besides the honour of chivalry. I
saw at once that he reckoned much on my gratitude, and still more
on my distress. Nevertheless, though these two pleas were almost
equally eloquent in his favour, I rejected his addresses with
disdain. The reason was, that there were two advocates still more
eloquent on the side of a refusal; a certainty that he was
disagreeable, and a strong suspicion that he was poor. But when
he returned to the charge, and offered to say the grace of
matrimony before he fell to, proving to me at the same time, by
the undeniable evidence of cash in hand, that his stewardship had
enabled him to live in clover for a long time to come, the truth
must come out in spite of blushes; my heart was softened, and my
ears unstopped. I was dazzled by the gold and jewels which he
laid out in burning row before me, and became a living monument
in my own person, that miraculous transformations are effected by
the power of pelf, as well as by the wand of love. My Biscayan
became, by little and little, quite another sort of man in my
eyes. His tall body and bare bones were plumped up into a shapely
and commanding figure; his cadaverous complexion was improved
into a manly brown: even that look, as if butter would not melt
in his mouth, was no longer hypocrisy, but a staid and decent
aspect. Having made these discoveries, I accepted his hand
without any material abhorrence, and he plighted the usual vows
in all due form. After this, like a good wife, I kept the spirit
of contradiction as much as possible under the hatches. We
resumed our journey, and Coimbra soon received a new family
within its walls

My husband stocked my wardrobe as became my sex and station,
making me a present of several diamonds, among which I fixed my
eye on that of Don Felix Moldonado. There were no further
documents wanting to give a shrewd guess whence came all the
precious stones I had seen, and to be morally certain that I had
not married a troublesomely nice observer of the eighth article
in the decalogue. Yet, considering myself as the main-spring of
all his little deviations from the strict law of propriety, it
was not for me to judge harshly on that point A woman can always
find a palliation for the misdeeds which are set in motion by the
power of her own beauty. But for that, he certainly would have
ranked no higher than one of the wicked in my estimation.

I had no great reason to complain of him for two or three months.
His attentions were always polite and kind, amounting apparently
to a sincere and tender affection. But no such thing! These
proofs of wedded love, this worshipping with the body, and
endowing with the worldly goods, were all but a copy of his
countenance; for the cheating fellow meant, as men serve a
cucumber, to throw me away on the first opportunity. One morning,
at my return from mass, I found nothing at home but the bare
walls; the moveables, not excepting my own apparel, every stick
and every thread, had been carried off. Zendono and his faithful
servant had taken their measures so adroitly, that in less than
an hour the house had been completely gutted; so that with
nothing but the gown upon my back, and Don Felix's ring, as good
luck would have it, on my finger, here stood I, like another
Ariadne, abandoned by the ungrateful rifler of my effects as well
as of my charms. But you may take my word for it, I did not
beguile the sense of my misfortunes in tragedy, elegy, scene
individable, or poem unlimited. I rather fell upon my knees, and
blessed my guardian angel, for having delivered me from a rascal
who must sooner or later fall into the hands of justice. The time
we had passed together I considered in the light of a dead loss,
and my spirits were all on the alert to make up for it. If I had
been inclined to stay in Portugal, as a hanger-on to some woman
of fashion, I should have found no difficulty in suiting myself;
but whether it was patriotism, or some astrological conjunction,
preparing a better fortune for me under the influence of the
planets, my whole heart was bent on getting back into Spain. I
applied to a jeweller, who valued my diamond and gave me cash for
it, and then took my departure with an old Spanish lady who was
going to Seville in a post-chaise.

This lady, whose name was Dorothea, had been to see a relation
settled at Coimbra, and was on her return to Seville, where she
lived. There was such a sympathy between us, as made us fast
friends on the very first day of our acquaintance; and the
attachment grew so close while we travelled together, that the
lady insisted, at our journey's end, on my making her house my
home. I had no reason to repent having formed such a connection.
Never was there a woman of a more charming character. One might
still conclude from the turn of her countenance, and from the
spirit not yet quenched in her eyes, that in her youth the catgut
of many a guitar must have been fretted under her window. As a
proof of this, she had many trials what a state of widowhood was;
her husbands had all been of noble birth, and her finances were
flourishing on the accumulation of her several jointures.

Among other admirable qualities, she had that of not visiting
severely the frailties of her own sex. When I let her into the
secret of mine, she entered so warmly into my interests, as to
speak of Zendono with more sincerity than good manners. What
graceless fellows these men are! said she in a tone from which
one might infer that she had met with some light-fingered steward
in the passing of her accounts. They would not be worth picking
off a dunghill, if one could do without them! There is a large
fraternity of sorry scoundrels in the world, who make it their
sport to gain the hearts of women, and then desert them. There
is, however, one consoling circumstance, my dear child. According
to your account, you are by no means bound fast to that faithless
Biscayan. If your marriage with him was sufficiently formal to
save your credit with the world, on the other hand, it was
contracted loosely enough to admit of your trying your luck at a
better match, whenever an opportunity may fall in your way.

I went out every day with Dorothea, either to church, or to visit
among her friends; both likely occasions of picking up an
adventure; so that I attracted the notice of several gentlemen.
There were some of them who had a mind to feel how the land lay.
They made their proposals to my venerable protectress; but these
had not wherewithal to defray the expenses of an establishment,
and those were mere unfledged boys under age; an insuperable
objection, which left me very little merit in turning a deaf ear
to them. One day a whim seized Dorothea and me, to go and see a
play at Seville. The bills announced a favourite and standard
piece: El Embaxador de Si-mismo, written by Lope de Vega.

Among the actresses who came upon the stage, I discovered one of
my old cronies. It was impossible to have forgotten Phenicia,
that bouncing good humoured girl whom you have seen as
Florimonde's waiting-maid, and have supped with more than once at
Arsenia's. I was aware that Phenicia had left Madrid above two
years ago, but had never heard of her turning actress. I longed
so earnestly to embrace her, that the piece appeared quite
tedious. Perhaps, too, there might be some fault in those who
played it, as being neither good enough nor bad enough to afford
me entertainment. For as to my own temper, which is that of
seeking diversion wherever I can find it, I must confess that an
actor supremely ridiculous answers my purpose just as well as the
most finished performer of the age.

At last, the moment I had been waiting for being arrived, namely
the dropping of the curtain on this favourite and standard piece,
we went, for my widow would go with me, behind the scenes, where
we caught a glimpse of Phenicia, who was playing off the amiable
and unaffected simpleton, and listening with all the primness of
studied simplicity to the soft chirping of a young stagefinch,
who had evidently suffered himself to be caught in the birdlime
of her professional or meretricious talents. No sooner did her
eye meet mine, than she quitted him with a genteel apology, ran
up to me with open arms, and lavished upon me all the
demonstrations of strong attachment imaginable. Our expressions
of joy at this unexpected meeting were indeed reciprocal; but
neither time nor place admitting of any very copious indulgence
in the privilege of asking questions, we adjourned till the
following day, with a promise of renewing our mutual inquiries
thick and threefold, under the shelter of her friendly roof.

The pleasure of talking is the inextinguishable passion of woman,
coeval with the act of breathing. I could not get a wink of sleep
all night, for the burning desire of having a grapple with
Phenicia, and closing in upon her in the conflict of curiosity.
Witness all the powers who preside over tattling, whether the
love of lying in bed, another passion of woman, prevented me from
getting up and flying to my appointment as early as good manners
would allow. She lived with the rest of the company in a large
ready-furnished lodging. A female attendant who met me at
entrance, on being requested to shew me Phenicia's apartment, led
the way up-stairs to a gallery, along which were ranged ten or
twelve small rooms, divided only by partitions of deal boards,
and inhabited by this merry band. My conductress knocked at a
door which Phenicia opened; for her tongue was cruelly on the
fidget to be let loose, as well as my own. We allowed ourselves
no time for the impertinent ceremonies which usually usher in a
visit, but plunged at once into a most furious career of
loquacity. It seemed as if we should have a tight bout together.
There were so many interrogatories to be bandied backwards and
forwards, that question and answer rebounded like tennis-balls,
only with tenfold velocity.

After having related our adventures each to other, and inquired
into the actual condition of affairs, Phenicia asked me how I
meant to provide for myself. My reply was, that I purposed, while
waiting for something better, to get a situation with some young
lady of quality. For shame, exclaimed my other self, you shall
not think of such a thing. Is it possible, my darling, that you
should not yet be disgusted with menial service? Are you not
heartily sick of knocking under to the good or ill pleasure of
others, of being cap-in-hand to all their caprices, and after all
to be entertained with that unchangeable tune called a scolding,
in a word, to be a downright slave? Why do not you follow my
example, and turn your thoughts towards the stage? Nothing can be
better suited to people of parts, when they happen not to be
equally favoured in the articles of wealth and birth. It is a
sphere of life which holds a middle rank between the nobility and
mere tradespeople; a profession exempted from all troublesome
restraint, and raised far above the common prejudices of humble
and decent Society. The public are our bankers, and we draw upon
them at sight. We live in a continual round of ecstacy, and spend
our money to the full as fast as we earn it.

The theatre (for she went on at a great rate) is favourable above
all to women. When I lived with Florimonde, it is a misery to
think of it, I was reduced to take up with the supernumeraries of
the prince's company; not a single man of fashion paid the least
attention to my figure. How came that about? Because they never
got a glimpse of it The finest picture in the world may escape
the admiration of the connoisseurs, if it is not placed in a
proper light. But since I have been suitably framed and
varnished, which could only happen in consequence of a theatrical
finish, what a revolution! The finest young fellows of all the
towns we pass through are shuffling at my heels. An actress
therefore has all her little comforts about her, without
deviating from the line of her duty. If she is discreet, by which
we mean that she should not admit more than one lover into her
good graces at a time, her exemplary conduct is cried up as
without a parallel. She is called a very Niobe for her coldness;
and when she changes her favourite, she is reprimanded as
slightly by the world, as a lawful widow who marries a few weeks
too soon after the death of her first husband. If, however, the
widow should look for luck in odd numbers, and take to herself a
third, the contempt of all mankind is poured down on her devoted
head; she is considered as a monster of indelicacy; whereas we
happier women are so much the more in vogue, as we add to the
list of our favourites. After having been served up to a hundred
different lovers, some battered nobleman finds us a dainty dish
for himself.

Do you mean that by way of news? interrupted I as she uttered the
last sentiment. Do you imagine me to be ignorant of these
advantages? I have often conned them over in my mind, and they
are but too alluring to a girl of my character. The attractions
of the stage would be irresistible, were inclination all. But
some little talent is indispensable; and I have not a spark. I
have sometimes attempted to rehearse passages from plays before
Arsenia. She was never satisfied with my performance; and that
disgusted me with the profession. You are easily put out of
conceit with yourself, replied Phenicia. Do not you know that
these great actresses are very apt to be jealous? With all their
vanity, they are afraid lest some newer face should put them out
of countenance. In short, I would not be guided by Arsenia on
that subject; she did not give her real opinion. In my judgment,
and without meaning to flatter you, the theatre is your natural
element. You have admirable powers, free and graceful action, a
fine-toned voice, volubility of declamation, and such a turn of
countenance! Ah! you little rogue! you will bring all the young
fellows behind the scenes, if once you take to the boards!

She plied me with many flattering compliments besides; and made
me recite some lines, only by way of enabling me to form my own
judgment as to my theatrical genius. Now that she was my censor,
it seemed quite another thing. She praised me up to the skies,
and held all the actresses in Madrid as mere makeweights in the
scale. After such a testimony, it would have been inexcusable to
hesitate about my own merit. Arsenia stood attainted, nay,
convicted of jealousy and treachery. There could be no question
about my being everything that was delightful. Two players
happened to drop in by accident, and Phenicia prevailed on me to
repeat the lines I had already spouted; they fell into a sort of
enthusiastic trance, whence they were roused only to launch out
fervently in admiration of me. Literally, had they all three been
flattering me up for a wager, they could not have adopted a more
extravagant scale of panegyric. My modesty was not proof against
such praise from those who were themselves praised. I began to
think myself really worthy of something; and now was my whole
heart and soul turned towards a theatrical life.

Since this is the case, said I to Phenicia, the affair is
determined. I will follow your advice and engage in your company,
if they will accept me. My friend, transported with joy at this
proposal, clasped me in her arms; and her two companions seemed
no less delighted than herself at finding me in that humour. It
was settled that I should attend the theatre on the following day
in the morning, and exhibit before the collected body the same
sample of my talent as I had just displayed. If I had bought
golden opinions from Phenicia and her friends, the actors in
general were still more complimentary in their judgment, after I
had recited but twenty lines before them. They gave me an
engagement with the utmost willingness. Then there was nothing
thought of but my first appearance. To make it as striking as
possible, I laid out all the money remaining from the sale of my
ring; and though my funds would not allow of being splendid in my
dress, I discovered the art of substituting taste for glitter,
and converting my poverty into a new grace.

At length I came out. What clapping of hands! what general
admiration! It would be speaking faintly, my friend, to tell you
downright that the spectators were all in an ecstacy. You must
have heard with your own ears what a noise I made at Seville, to
believe it. The whole talk of the town was about me, and the
house was crowded for three weeks successively; so that this
novelty restored the theatre to its popularity, when it was
evidently beginning to decline. Thus did I come upon the stage,
and step into public favour at once. But to come upon the stage
with such distinction, is generally a prelude to coming upon the
town; or at least to putting one's self up at auction to the best
bidder. Twenty sparks of all ages, from seventeen to seventy,
were on the list of candidates, and would have worn me in my
newest gloss. Had I followed my own inclination, I should have
chosen the youngest, and the most of a lady's man; but in our
profession, interest and ambition must bear the sway, till we
have feathered our nest; that is as invariable a rule as any in
the prompt book. On this principle, Don Ambrosio de Nisana, a man
in whom age and ugliness had done their worst, but rich,
generous, and one of the most powerful noblemen in Andalusia, had
the refusal of the bargain. It is true that he paid handsomely
for it. He took a fine house for me, furnished in the extreme of
magnificence, allowed me a man cook of the first eminence, two
footmen, a lady's maid, and a thousand ducats a month for my
personal expenses. Add to all this a rich wardrobe, and an
elegant assortment of jewels.

What a revolution in my affairs! My poor brain was completely
turned. I could not believe myself to be the same person. No
wonder if girls soon forget the meanness and misery whence some
man of quality has rescued them in a fit of caprice. My
confession shall be without reserve: public applause, flattering
speeches buzzed about on every side, and Don Ambrosio's passion
kindled such a flame of self-conceit as kept me in a continual
ferment of extravagance. I considered my talents as a patent of
nobility. I put on the woman of fashion; and becoming as chary as
I had hitherto been lavish of my amorous challengers, determined
to look no lower than dukes, counts, or marquises.

My lord of Nisana brought some of his friends to sup with me
every evening It was my care to invite the best companions among
our actresses, and we wore away a good part of the night in
laughing and drinking. I fell in very kindly with so delicious a
life; but it lasted only six months. Men of rank are apt to be
whimsical; but for that fault, they would be too heavenly. Don
Ambrosio deserted me for a young coquette from Grenada, who had
just brought a pretty person to the Seville market, and knew how
to set off her wares to the best advantage. But I did not fret
after him more than four-and twenty hours, His place was supplied
by a young fellow of two-and-twenty, Don Lewis d' Alcacer, with
whom few Spaniards could vie in point of face and figure.

You will ask me, doubtless, and it is natural to do so, why I
selected so green a sprig of nobility for my paramour, when my
own experience so strongly dissuaded from such a choice. But,
besides that Don Lewis had neither father nor mother, and was
already in possession of his fortune, you are to know that there
is no danger of disagreeable consequences attaching to any but
girls in a servile condition of life, or those unfortunate loose
fish who are game for every sportsman. Ladies of our profession
are privileged persons; we let off our charms like a rocket, and
are not answerable for the damage where they fall; so much the
worse for those families whose heirs we set in a blaze.

As for Alcacer and myself, we were so strongly attached to one
another, that I verily believe, love never yet did such execution
as when he took aim at us two. Our passion was of such a violent
nature, that we seemed to be under the influence of some spell.
Those who knew how well we were together, thought us the happiest
pair in the world; but we, who knew best, found ourselves the
most miserable. Though Don Lewis had as fine an outside as ever
fell to the lot of man, he was at the same time so jealous, that
there was no living for vexation at his unfounded surmises. It
was of no use, knowing his weakness and humouring it, to lay an
embargo on my looks, if ever a male creature peeped into harbour;
his suspicious temper, seldom at a loss for some crime to impute,
rendered my armed neutrality of no avail. Our most tender moments
had always a spice of wrangling. There was no standing the brunt
of it; patience could hold out no longer on either side, and we
quarrelled more peaceably than we had loved. Could you believe
that the last day of our being together was the happiest? both
equally wearied out by the perpetual recurrence of unpleasant
circumstances, we gave a loose to our transports when we embraced
for the last time. We were like two wretched captives, breathing
the fresh air of liberty after all the horrors of our prison-
house.

Since that adventure, I have worn a breastplate against the
little archer. No more amorous nonsense for me, at least to a
troublesome excess! It is quite out of our line, to sigh and
complain like Arcadian shepherdesses. Those should never give way
to a passion in private, who hold it up to ridicule before the
public.

While these events were passing in my domestic establishment,
Fame had not hung her trumpet breathless on the willows; she
spread it about universally that I was an inimitable actress.
That celestial tattler, though bankrupt times out of number,
still contrives to revive her credit; the comedians of Grenada
therefore wrote to offer me an engagement in their company; and
by way of evidence that the proposal was not to be scorned, they
sent me a statement of their daily receipts and disbursements,
with their terms, which seemed to be advantageous. That being the
case, I closed, though grieved in my heart to part with Phenicia
and Dorothea, whom I loved as well as woman is capable of loving
woman. I left the first laudably employed in melting the plate of
a little haggling goldsmith, whose vanity so far got the better
of his avarice that he must needs have a theatrical heroine for
his mistress. I forgot to tell you that on my translation to the
stage, from mere whim, I changed the name of Laura to that of
Estella; and it was under the latter name that I took this
engagement at Grenada.

My first appearance was no less successful here than at Seville;
and I soon felt myself wafted along by the sighs of my admirers.
But resolving not to favour any except on honourable terms, I
kept a guard of modesty in my intercourse with them, which threw
dust in their eyes. Nevertheless, not to be the dupe of virtues
which pay very indifferently, and were not exactly at home in
their new mansion, I was balancing whether or not to take up with
a young fellow of mean extraction, who had a place under
government, and assumed the style of a gentleman in virtue of his
office, with a good table and handsome equipage, when I saw the
Marquis de Marialva for the first time. This Portuguese nobleman,
travelling over Spain from mere curiosity, stopped at Grenada as
he passed through it. He came to the play. I did not perform that
evening. His examination of the actresses was very particular,
and he found one to his liking. Their acquaintance commenced on
the very next day; and the definitive treaty was very nearly
concluded when I appeared upon the stage. What with some personal
graces, and no little affectation in setting them off, the
weather-cock veered about all on a sudden; my Portuguese was mine
and mine only till death do us part. Yet, since the truth must be
told, I knew perfectly that my sister of the sock and buskin had
entrapped this nobleman, and spared no pains to chouse her out of
her prize; to my success you are yourself a witness. She bears me
no small grudge on that account; but the thing could not be
avoided. She ought to reflect that it is the way of all female
flesh; that the dearest friends play off the same trick upon one
another, and put a good face upon it into the bargain.


CH. VIII. -- The reception of Gil Blas among the players at
Grenada; and another old acquaintance picked up in the green-
room.

JUST as Laura was finishing her story, there came in an old
actress who lived in her neighbourhood, and was come to take her
to the theatre as she passed by. This venerable tutelary of the
stage was admirably fitted to play some superannuated strumpet
among the heathen goddesses in a pantomime. My sister was not
remiss in introducing her brother to that stale old harridan,
whereupon a profusion of compliments were bandied about on both
sides.

I left them together, telling the steward's relict that I would
join her again at the playhouse, as soon as I had sent my baggage
to the Marquis de Marialva's, to whose residence she directed me.
First I went to the room I had hired, whence, after having
settled with my landlady, I repaired with a porter who carried my
luggage to a large ready-furnished house, where my new master was
quartered. At the door I met his steward, who asked me if I was
not the lady Estella's brother. I answered in the affirmative.
Then you are welcome, Signor cavalier, replied he. The Marquis de
Marialva, whose steward I have the honour to be, has commissioned
me to receive you properly. There is a room got ready for you; I
will shew you the way to it, if you please, that you may be quite
at home. He took me up to the top of the house, and thrust me
into so small a room, that a very narrow bed, a chest of drawers,
and two chairs completely filled it. This was my apartment. You
will not have much spare room, said my conductor, but as a set-
off, I promise you that you shall be superbly lodged at Lisbon. I
locked up my portmanteau in the wardrobe and put the key in my
pocket, asking at the same time what was the hour of supper. The
answer was, that his lordship seldom supped at home, but allowed
each servant a monthly sum for board wages. I put several other
questions, and learnt that the Marquis's people were a happy set
of idle fellows. After a conversation short and sweet, I left the
steward to go and look for Laura, reflecting much to my own
satisfaction on the happy omens I drew from the opening of my new
situation.

As soon as I got to the playhouse door, and mentioned my name as
Estella's brother, there was free admission at once. You might
have observed the forwardness of the guards to make way for me,
just as if I had been one of the most considerable noblemen in
Grenada. All the supernumeraries, door-keepers, and receivers of
checks whom I encountered in my progress, made me their very best
bows. But what I should like best to give the reader an idea of,
is the serious reception which the merry vagrants gave me in the
green-room, where I found the whole dramatis persona ready
dressed, and on the point of drawing up the curtain. The actors
and actresses, to whom Laura introduced me, fell upon me without
mercy. The men were quite troublesome with their greetings; and
the women, not to be outdone, laid their plastered faces
alongside of mine, till they covered it with a villanous compound
of red and white. No one choosing to be the last in making me
welcome, they all paid their compliments in a breath. AEolus
himself, answering from all the points of the compass at once,
would not have been a match for them: but my sister was; for the
loan of her tongue was always at the service of a friend, and she
brought me completely out of debt.

But I did not get clear off with the squeezes of the principal
performers. The civilities of the scene-painters, the band, the
prompter, the candle-snuffer, and the call-boy were to be endured
with patience; all the understrappers in the theatre came to see
me run the gauntlet. One would have supposed one's self in a
foundling hospital, and that they had none of them ever known
what sort of animals brothers and sisters were.

In the mean time the play began. Some gentlemen who were behind
the scenes, then ran to get seats in the front of the house; for
my part, feeling myself quite at home, I continued in
conversation with those of the actors who were waiting to go on.
Among the number there was one whom they called Melchior. The
name struck me. I looked hard at the person who answered to it,
and thought I had seen him somewhere. At last I recollected that
it was Melchior Zapata, a poor strolling player, who has been
described in the first volume of this true history, as soaking
his crusts in the pure element.

I immediately took him aside, and said: I am much mistaken if you
are not that Signor Melchior with whom I had the honour of
breakfasting one day by the margin of a clear fountain, between
Valladolid and Segovia. I was with a journeyman barber. We had
some provisions with us which we clubbed with yours, and all
three partook of a little rural feast, to which wit and anecdote
gave additional relish. Zapata bethought him for a minute or two,
and then answered: You tell me of a circumstance which often
since came across my mind. I had then just been trying my fortune
at Madrid, and was returning to Zamora. I recollect perfectly
that my affairs were a little out at elbows. I recollect it too,
replied I, by the token of a doublet which you wore, lined with
play-bills. Neither have I forgotten that you complained of
having a wife cursed with incorruptible chastity. Oh! that
misfortune has found its remedy long ago, said Zapata, shaking
his ears. By all the powers of womanhood, the jade has
effectually reformed that virtue, and given me a warmer lining to
my doublet.

I was going to congratulate him on his wife's having shewn so
much sense, when he was obliged to leave me and go on the stage.
Being curious to know what sort of an animal his wife was, I went
up to an actor and desired him to point her out. He did so,
saying at the same time: There she is, it is Narcissa; the
prettiest of all our women except your sister. I concluded that
this must be the actress in whose favour the Marquis de Marialva
had declared before meeting with his Estella; and my conjecture
was but too correct. After the play I attended Laura home, where
I saw several cooks preparing a handsome entertainment. You may
sup here, said she. I will do no such thing, answered I; the
marquis perhaps will like to be alone with you. Not at all,
replied she; he is coming with two of his own friends and one of
our gentlemen; you will just make the sixth, You know that in our
free and easy way there is no impropriety in secretaries sitting
down at table with their masters. Very true, said I: but it is
rather too soon to assume the privilege of a favourite. I must
first get employed in some confidential commission, and then lay
in my claim to that honourable distinction. Judging it to be so
best, I went out of Laura's house, and got back to my inn,
whither I reckoned on repairing every day, since my master had no
regular establishment.


CH. IX. -- An extraordinary companion at supper; and an account
of their conversation.

I REMARKED in the coffee-room a sort of an old monk, habited in
coarse grey cloth, at supper quite alone in a corner. I went and
sat opposite to him out of curiosity; we exchanged a civil bow,
and he shewed himself to be quite as well bred as I was,
notwithstanding my lay education. My commons were brought me, and
I fell to with a very catholic appetite. While I was eating, my
tongue was mute, but my eyes glanced by snatches towards this
singular character, and always caught his at the same employment.
Liking better to stare than be stared at, I addressed my speech
to him thus: Pray, father, have we ever by any chance met
anywhere but here? You peer at me as if you scarcely knew whether
I was an acquaintance or a stranger. He answered gravely: If I
look at you with fixed attention, it is only to admire the
prodigious variety of adventures which are chronicled in the
features of your face. It should seem, said I in a joking tone,
as if your reverence was something of a physiognomist. Far more
deeply imbued in science than a mere physiognomist, answered the
monk, I found prophecies on my observations which have never been
belied by the event. My skill in palmistry is no less, and I will
set my oracles against the surest of antiquity, after comparing
the inspection of the hand with that of the face.

Though this old man had all the appearance of profound wisdom,
his talk was so like that of a madman, that I could not help
laughing at him out-right. So far from being offended at my want
of manners, he smiled at it, and went on to the following effect,
after running his eye round the coffee-room, to be assured that
there were no listeners: I am not surprised at finding you so
prejudiced against two sciences which pass at this time of day
for mere frivolity; the long and painful study they require
disheartens the learned, who turn their backs upon them, and then
swear that they are fables out of disgust at having missed their
attainment. For my part, I am not to be frightened by the
darkness which envelopes them, any more than by the difficulties
which are perpetual stumbling-blocks in the pursuit of chemical
discoveries, and in the marvellous art of transmuting baser
metals into gold.

But I do flatter myself, pursued he, looking steadfastly at me,
that I am addressing a young gentleman of good sense, to whom my
systems will not appear altogether in the light of idle dreams. A
sample of my skill will dispose you better than the most subtle
arguments to pass a favourable judgment on my pretensions. After
talking in this manner he drew from his pocket a phial full of a
lively-looking red liquor, on which he expatiated thus: Here is
an elixir which I have distilled this morning from the juices of
certain plants; for I have employed almost my whole life, like
Democritus, in finding out the properties of simples and
minerals. You shall make trial of its virtue. The wine we are
drinking with our supper is very bad; henceforth it will become
excellent. At the same time he put two drops of his elixir into
my bottle, which made my wine more delicious than the choicest
vintages of Spain.

The marvellous strikes the imagination; and when once that
faculty is enlisted, judgment is turned adrift. Delighted with so
glorious a secret, and persuaded that he must have out-devilled
the devil before he could have got at it, I cried out in a
paroxysm of admiration: O reverend father! prythee forgive your
servant if he took you at first for an old blockhead. I now
abjure my error. There is no need to look further to be assured
that it depends only on your own will to turn an iron bar into a
wedge of gold in the twinkling of an eye. How happy should I be
were I master of that admirable science! Heaven preserve you from
ever acquiring it, interrupted the old man with a deep sigh. You
know not, my son, what a fatal possession you covet. Instead of
envying, rather pity me, for having taken such infinite pains to
be made unhappy. I am always disturbed in mind. I fear a
discovery; and then perpetual imprisonment would be the reward of
all my labours. In this apprehension, I lead a vagabond life,
sometimes disguised as a priest or monk, sometimes as a gentle
man or a peasant. Where is the benefit of knowing how to
manufacture gold on such terms? Are not the goods of this world
downright misery to those who cannot enjoy them in tranquillity?

What you say appears to me very sensible, said I to the
philosopher. There is nothing like living at one's ease. You have
rid me of all hankering after the philosopher's stone. I will
rest satisfied with learning from you my future destiny. With all
my heart, my good lad, answered he. I have already made my
remarks upon your features; now let me see your hand. I gave it
him with a confidence which will do my penetration but little
credit in the esteem of some readers. He examined it very
attentively, and then pronounced, as in a rapture of inspiration:
Ah! what transitions from pain to pleasure, and from pleasure to
pain! What a whimsical alternation of good and evil chances! But
you have already experienced the largest share of your allotted
reverses. You have but few more tides of misfortune to stem, and
then a great lord will contrive for you an eligible fate, which
shall not be subject to change.

After having assured me that I might depend on his prediction, he
bade me farewell and went out of the inn, leaving me in deep
meditation on the things I had just heard. There could be no
doubt of the Marquis de Marialva being the great lord in
question; and consequently nothing appeared more within the verge
of possibility than the accomplishment of the oracle. But though
there had not been the slightest likelihood, that would have been
no hindrance to giving the impostor monk unbounded credit, since
his elixir had transmuted my sour incredulity into the most
tractable digestion of his falsehoods. That nothing might be
wanting on my side to play into the hands of my foreboded luck, I
determined to attach myself more closely to the marquis than I
had ever done to any of my masters. Having taken this resolution,
I went home in unusually high spirits; never did foolish woman
descend in better humour from the garret of another foolish woman
who had told her fortune.


CH. X. -- The Marquis de Marialva gives a commission to Gil Blas.
That faithful secretary acquits himself of it as shall be
related.

THE marquis was not yet returned from his theatrical party, and I
found his upper servants playing at cards in his apartment while
they were waiting for his arrival. I got to be sociable with
them; and we amused ourselves with jocular conversation till two
o'clock in the morning, when our master arrived. He was a little
surprised at seeing me, and said with an air of kindness which
made me conclude that he came home very well satisfied with his
evening: How is this, Gil Blas? Are you not gone to bed yet? I
answered that I wished to know first whether he had any commands
for me. Probably, replied he, I may have a commission to give you
to-morrow morning; but it will be time enough then to acquaint
you with my wishes. Go to your own room; and henceforward
remember that I dispense with your attendance at bed-time; my
other servants are sufficient for that occasion.

After this hint, which was much to my satisfaction in the main,
since it spared me a slavery which I should have felt very
unpleasantly at times, I left the marquis in his apartment, and
withdrew to my garret. I went to bed. Not being able to sleep, it
seemed good to follow the counsel of Pythagoras, and to examine
all the actions of the day by the test of reason; to reprimand
severely what had been done amiss, and if anything had been done
well, to rejoice in it.

On looking into the day-book of my conscience, the balance was
not sufficiently in my favour to keep me in good humour with
myself. I felt remorse at having lent myself to Laura's
imposition. It was in vain to urge, in self defence, that I could
not, with any decency, give the lie to a girl who had no object
in view but to do me a pleasure, and that I was in some sort
under the necessity of becoming an accomplice in the fraud. This
was a paltry excuse in the darkness of the night, for I pleaded
against myself that at all events the matter should be pushed no
further, and that it was the summit of impudence to remain upon
the establishment of a nobleman whose confidence I so ill repaid.
In short, after a severe trial, it was agreed in my own breast,
that I was very little short of an arrant knave.

But to have done with the morality of the act, and pass on to the
probable issue, it was evidently playing a desperate game, to
cozen a man of consequence who might be enabled, as an instrument
for the visitation of my sins perhaps, to detect the imposture in
its very infancy. A reflection at once so prudent and so virtuous
acted as a refrigerator on my spirits; but visions of pleasure
and of interest soon raised them again above the freezing point.
Besides, the prophecy of the man with the elixir would have been
enough to put me in heart once more. I therefore gave myself up
to the indulgence of the most agreeable fancies. All the rules of
arithmetic from simple addition to compound interest were set in
array, to cast up what sum my salary would amount to at the end
of ten years' service. Then there was a large allowance for
presents and gratuities from my master, whose liberal disposition
according admirably with my liberal desires, my imagination grew
quite fantastical, and extended the landmarks of my fortune over
innumerable acres of unsubstantial territory. Sleep overtook me
in the calculation, and raised a magnificent aerial mansion on
the estate where a new race of grandees was to originate.

I got up the next morning about eight o'clock to go and receive
my patron's orders; but as I was opening my door to go out, what
was my surprise at meeting him in his wrapping-gown and night-
cap. He was quite alone. Gil Blas, said he, on parting with your
sister last night, I promised to pass this morning with her; but
an affair of consequence will not admit of my keeping my word. Go
and assure her from me that I am deeply mortified at the
disappointment, but that I shall certainly sup with her to-night.
That is not all, added he, putting a purse into my hands and a
little shagreen case set round with diamonds; carry her my
portrait, and keep this purse of fifty pistoles, which I give you
as a mark of my early-conceived friendship. I took the picture in
one hand, and in the other the purse to which I was so little
entitled. I put my best leg foremost in my way to Laura,
muttering to myself in the transports of excessive joy: Good! the
prophecy is accomplished in the twinkling of an eye. What a
windfall to be the brother of a girl so full of beauty and
attraction! It is a pity the credit attached to the relationship
is not commensurate with the lucre and the comfort.

Laura, unlike most women in her profession, had a habit of early
rising. I caught her at her toilette, where, while waiting for
her illustrious foreigner, she was engrafting on her natural
beauty all the adventitious charms which the cosmetic art could
supply. Lovely Estella, said I, on accosting her, thou absolute
lodestone of the tramontanes, I may now sit down at table with my
master, since he has honoured me with a commission which gives me
that prerogative, and which I am just come to fulfil. He cannot
have the pleasure of waiting on you this morning, as he had
purposed; but to make you amends for the disappointment, he will
sup here this evening, and sends you his picture; which to all
appearance is enclosed in something more valuable than itself.

I put the box into her hand at once; and the lively sparkling of
the brilliants which encompassed it made her eyes sparkle and her
mouth water. She opened it out of mere curiosity, looked
carelessly at the painting as people perform a duty for which
they have little relish, then shut it, and once more fell
greedily on the jewellery. Their beauty made her eloquent; and
she said to me with the smile of a satirist -- These are copies
which those mercenary things called actresses value much more
highly than originals.

I next acquainted her that the generous Portuguese, when giving
me charge of the portrait, recommended it to my care by a purse
of fifty pistoles. I beg you will accept of my congratulations,
said she; this nobleman begins where it is even uncommon for
others to leave off. It is to you, my divine creature, answered
I, that this present is owing; the marquis only made it on the
score of natural affection. I could be well pleased, replied she,
that he were to make you a score such presents every day. I
cannot express in what extravagance you are dear to me. From the
first moment of our meeting, I became attached to you by so
strong a tie, as time has not been able to dissolve. When I lost
you at Madrid, I did not despair of finding you again; and
yesterday, on your sudden appearance, I received you like a
deodand. In a word, my friend, heaven has created us for one
another. You shall be my husband, but we must get plenty of money
in the first instance. I shall just lend myself out to three or
four silly fellows more, and then you may live like a gentleman
on your means.

I thanked her in the most appropriate terms for such an instance
of extreme condescension on my behalf, and we got insensibly into
a conversation which lasted till noon. At that hour I withdrew,
to go and give my master an account of the manner in which his
present was received. Though Laura had given me no instructions
thereupon, I was not remiss in composing a fine compliment on my
way, with which I meant to launch out on her pan; but it was just
so much flash in the pan. For, when I got home the marquis was
gone out; and the fates had decreed that I should never see him
more, for reasons which will be methodically stated in the
succeeding chapter.


CH. XI. -- A thunderbolt to Gil Blas.

I REPAIRED to my inn, where meeting with two men of companionable
talents, I dined and sat at table with them till the play began.
We parted; they as their business and desire pointed them; and,
for my own part, my bent was towards the theatre. It may be
proper to observe by the way, that I had all possible reason to
be in a good humour. The conversation with my chance companions
had been joyous in the extreme; the colour of my fortune was gay
and animating; yet for all that I could not help giving way to
melancholy, without either knowing why, or being able to reason
myself out of it. It was doubtless a prophetic warning of the
misfortune which threatened me.

As I entered the green-room, Melchior Zapata came up, and told me
in a low voice to follow him. He led me to an unfrequented part
of the house, and opened his business thus -- Worthy sir, I make
it a point of conscience to give you a very serious warning. You
are aware that the Marquis de Marialva had at first taken a fancy
to Narcissa, my wife; he had even gone so far as to fix a day for
trying the relish of my rib, when that cockatrice Estella
contrived to flyblow the bill of fare, and transfer the banquet
to her own untainted charms. Judge then, whether an actress can
be gulled instead of gulling, and preserve the sweetness of her
temper. My wife has taken it deeply to heart, and there is no
species of revenge to which she would not have recourse. A fine
opportunity has offered. Yesterday, if you recollect, all our
supernumeraries were crowding together to see you. The deputy
candle-snuffer told some of the inferior comedians that he
recollected you perfectly well, and that you might be anything
but Estella's brother.

This report, added Melchior, came to Narcissa's ears to-day: she
lost no time in questioning the author; and that grub of the
interior stood to the whole story. He says that he knew you as
Arsenia's servant, when Estella waited on her at Madrid under the
name of Laura. My wife, full of glee at this discovery, means to
acquaint the Marquis de Marialva with it, when he comes to the
play this evening; so take your measures accordingly. If you are
not Estella's brother in good earnest, I would advise you as a
friend, and on the score of old acquaintance, to make your escape
while your skin is whole. Narcissa, satisfied in her tender mercy
with only one victim, and that of her own sex, has allowed me to
give you this notice, that you may outrun your ill luck.

It would have been waste of words to press the subject farther. I
returned thanks for the caution to this fretter of his hour, who
saw by my terrified aspect that I was not the man to give the
deputy candle-snuffer the lie. I did not feel the least
temptation to carry my dangerous valour such a length. I had not
even the heart to go and bid farewell to Laura, for fear she
should insist on me keeping up the farce. I could easily conceive
that so excellent an actress might get out of the scrape with
flying colours; but there seemed to be nothing for me short of a
swingeing castigation; and I was not so far gone in love as to
stand by my sweetheart at the risk of my own person. I thought of
nothing but a precipitate retreat with my household gods, or
rather goods, if such a trumpery collection of individual
property might be called so. I disappeared from the playhouse in
the twinkling of an eye; and in less time than it would have
taken to confess my sins, was my portmanteau carried off and
safely lodged with a muleteer who was to set out for Toledo at
three o'clock next morning. I could have wished myself already
with the Count de Polan, whose hospitable roof seemed my only
safe asylum. But I was not there yet; and it was impossible to
think without dread of the time remaining to be passed in a town
where I was afraid they would hunt me out without giving me a
night's law.

The smell of supper drew me to my inn notwithstanding; though I
was as uneasy as a debtor who knows that a writ is out against
him. My stomach, I believe, was not sufficiently well knit that
evening for my supper to play its part as it should do. The
miserable sport of fear, I watched all the people who came into
the coffee-room, and whenever by chance they carried a gallows in
their physiognomy, which is no uncommon ensign in such places of
resort, I shuddered with horrid forebodings. After having supped
the supper of the damned, I got up from table and returned to my
carrier's house, where I threw myself on some clean straw till it
was time to set out.

My patience was well tried during that interval; for a thousand
unpleasant thoughts attacked me in all directions. If I dozed now
and then, the enraged marquis stood before me, pounding Laura's
fair face to a jelly with his fist, and turning her whole house
out at window; or to come nearer home, I heard him giving
directions for my death under the operation of a cudgel. At such
a vision I started out of my sleep, and waking, which is usually
so pleasant after a frightful dream, inspired me with more horror
than even the fictions of my entranced fancy.

Happily the muleteer delivered me from so dire a purgatory, by
coming to acquaint me that his mules were ready. I was
immediately on my legs, and set out radically cured, for which
heaven has my best thanks, of Laura and the occult sciences. As
we got farther from Grenada, my mind recovered its tone. I began
chatting with the muleteer, laughed at his droll stories, and
insensibly lost all my apprehensions. I slept undisturbed at
Ubeda, where we lay the first night, and on the fourth day we got
to Toledo. My first care was to inform myself of the Count de
Polan's residence, whither I repaired under the full persuasion
that he would not suffer me to lodge elsewhere. But I reckoned
without my host. There was no one at home but a person to take
care of the house, who told me that his master was just gone to
the castle of Leyva, having been sent for on account of
Seraphina's dangerous illness.

The count's absence was altogether unexpected: here was no longer
any inducement to stay at Toledo, and all my plans were changed
at once. Finding myself so near Madrid, I resolved to go thither.
It came into my head that I might make my way at court, where
talents of the first order, as I had heard, were not absolutely
necessary to fill situations of the first consequence. On the
very next morning I took advantage of back carriage, to be set
down in the renowned capital of Spain. Fortune took me kindly by
the hand, and introduced me to a higher cast of parts than those
I had hitherto filled.


CH. XII. -- Gil Blas takes lodgings in a ready-furnished house.
He gets acquainted with Captain Chinchilla. That officer's
character and business at Madrid.

ON my first arrival at Madrid, I fixed my head-quarters in a
lodging-house, where resided, among other persons, an old
captain, who was come from the distant part of New Castile, to
solicit a pension at court, and he thought his claims but too
well founded. His name was Don Annibal de Chinchilla. It was not
without much staring that I saw him for the first time. He was a
man about sixty, of gigantic stature, and of anatomical leanness.
His whiskers were like brushwood, fencing off the two sides of
his face as high as his temples. Besides that, he was short in
his reckoning by an arm and a leg, there was a vacancy for an
eye, which Polypheme would have supplied as he did, had patches
of green silk been then in the fashion; and his features were
hacked sufficiently to illustrate a treatise of geometry. With
these exceptions, his configuration was much like that of another
man. As to his mental qualities, he was not altogether without
understanding; and what he wanted in quickness he made up by
gravity. His principles were rigid in the extreme; and it was his
particular boast to be delicate on the point of honour.

After two or three interviews, he distinguished me by his
confidence. I soon got into all his personal history: he related
on what occasions he had left an eye at Naples, an arm in
Lombardy, and a leg in the Low Countries. The most admirable
circumstance in all his narratives of battles and sieges, was,
that not a single feature of the swaggerer peeped out; not a word
escaped him to his own honour and glory; though one could readily
have forgiven him for making some little display of the half
which was still extant of himself, as a set-off against the
dilapidations which had deducted so largely from the usual
contexture of a man. Officers who return from their campaigns
without a scratch upon their skin or a love-lock out of place,
are not always so humble in their pretensions.

But he told me that what gave him most uneasiness was, the having
wasted a considerable portion of his private fortune on military
objects, so that he had not more than a hundred ducats a year
left; a poor establishment for such a pair of whiskers, a
gentleman's lodging, and an amanuensis to multiply memorials by
wholesale. For in point of fact, my worthy friend, added he,
shrugging his shoulders, I present one, with a blessing on my
endeavours, every day, and the last meets with the same attention
as the first. You would say that it was an even bet between the
prime minister and me, which of us two shall be fired first; the
memorialist or the receiver of the memorials. I have often had
the honour, too, of addressing the king on the same subject; but
the rector and his curate say grace in the same key; and in the
mean time, my castle of Chinchilla is falling to ruin for want of
necessary repairs.

Faint heart never won fair lady, said I most wisely to the
captain; you are perhaps on the eve of finding all your marches
and countermarches repaid with usury. I must not flatter myself
with that pleasing expectation, answered Don Annibal. It is but
three days since I spoke to one of the minister's secretaries;
and if I am to trust his representations, I have only to hold up
my head and look big. What then did he say to you? replied I. Had
those poor dumb mouths your wounds no eloquence, to wring a
hireling pittance for their profuse expense of blood? You shall
judge for yourself, resumed Chinchilla. This secretary told me in
good plain terms: My honest friend, you need not boast so much of
your zeal and your fidelity; you have only done your duty in
exposing yourself to danger for your country. Naked glory is the
true and honourable recompense of gallant actions, and as such is
the prize at which a Spaniard aims. You therefore argue on false
principles, if you consider the bounty you solicit as a debt. In
case it should be granted, you will owe that favour exclusively
to the royal goodness, which in its extreme condescension
requites those of its subjects who have served the state
valiantly. Thus you see, pursued the captain, that if I had a
hundred lives they are all pledged, and that I am likely to go
back as hungry as I came.

A brave man in distress is the most touching object in this
world. I exhorted him to stick close, and offered to write his
memorials out fair for nothing. I even went so far as to open my
purse to him, and to beg it as a favour that he would draw upon
me for whatever he wanted. But he was not one of those folks who
never wait to be asked twice on such occasions. So much the
reverse, that with a commendable delicacy on the subject, he
thanked me for my kindness, but refused it peremptorily. He
afterwards told me that, for fear of spunging upon any one, he
had accustomed himself, by little and little, to live with such
sobriety, that the smallest quantity of food was sufficient for
his subsistence; which was but too true. His daily fare was
confined to vegetables, by dint whereof his component parts were
confined to skin and bone. That he might have no witnesses how
ill he dined, he usually shut himself up in his chamber at that
meal. I prevailed so far with him, however, by repeated
entreaties, as to obtain that we should dine and sup together:
then, undermining his pride by little indirect artifices of
compassion, I ordered more provision and wine than I could
consume to my own share. I pressed him to eat and drink. At first
he made difficulties about it; but in the end there was no
resisting my hospitality. After a time, his modesty becoming
fainter as his diet was more flush, he helped me off with my
dinner and lightened my bottle almost without asking.

One day, after four or five glasses, when his stomach had renewed
its intimacy with a more generous system of feeding, he said to
me with an air of gaiety: Upon my word, Signor Gil Blas, you have
very winning ways with you; you make me do just whatever you
please. There is something so hearty in your welcome as to
relieve me from all fear of trespassing on your generous temper.
My captain seemed at that moment so entirely to have got rid of
his bashfulness, that if I had been in the humour to have seized
the lucky moment, and to have pressed my purse once more on his
acceptance, I am much mistaken if he would have refused it. I did
not put him to the trial; but rested satisfied with having made
him my messmate, and taken the trouble not only to copy out his
memorials, but to assist him in their composition. By dint of
having written homilies out fair, I had learnt the knack of
phraseology, and was become a sort of author. The old officer on
his side had some little vanity about writing well. Both of us
thus contending for the prize, the bursts of eloquence would have
done honour to the most celebrated professors of Salamanca. But
it was in vain that we sat on opposite sides of the table, and
drained our genius to the very dregs, to nourish the flowers of
rhetoric in these memorials; you might as well have planted an
orange-grove on the sea-beach. In whatever new light we placed
Don Annibal's services, it was all the same at court, the
connoisseurs were decided about their merit; so that the battered
veteran had no reason to sing the praises of that spirit which
leads officers on to spend their family estates in the service.
In the virulence of his spleen he cursed the planet under which
he was born, and sent Naples, Lombardy, and the Low Countries to
the devil.

That his mortification might be pressed down and running over, it
happened to his face one day that a poet, introduced by the Duke
of Alva, having recited a sonnet before the king on the birth of
an infant; was gratified with a pension of five hundred ducats. I
believe the lop-limbed captain would have gone raving mad at it,
if I had not taken some pains to recompense his spirit. What is
the matter with you? said I, seeing him quite beside himself.
There is nothing in all this which ought to go so terribly
agaiust the grain. Ever since Mount Parnassus swelled above the
subject plain, have not poets pleaded the privilege of laying
princes under contribution to their muse? There is not a crowned
head in Christendom that has not substituted a pensioned laureate
for the household fool of less refined times. And between
ourselves, this species of patronage, for the most part galloping
down full drive to posterity on the saddle of Pegasus, raises a
hue and cry in honour of royal munificence; but bounty to persons
who are lost in a crowd, however deserving, adds nothing to the
bulk or stature of posthumous renown. Augustus must have drained
his treasury by gratuities, and yet how few of the names on his
pension-list have come down to us! But distant ages shall be
informed, as we are, in all the hyperbole of poetic diction, that
his benefits descended on Virgil like the rain from heaven, whose
drops arithmetic has no combinations to count, no principles by
which to reason on their number.

But let me talk ever so classically to Don Annibal, there was a
confounded acidity in that sonnet which curdled all the milky
ingredients of his moral composition; it was impossible to chew,
swallow, and digest such food with human organs; and he was fully
determined to give the matter up at once. It seemed right,
nevertheless, by way of playing for his last stake, to present
one more memorial to the Duke of Lerma, and if that failed there
was an end of the game. For this purpose we went together to the
prime minister's. There we met a young man who, after saluting
the captain, said to him in a tone of affection: My old and dear
master, is it your own self that I see? What business brings you
to this mart of favour? If you have occasion for any one to speak
a good word for you, do not spare my lungs; they are entirely at
your service. How is this, Pedrillo? answered the officer; to
hear you talk it should seem as if you held some important post
in this house. At least, replied the young man, I have influence
enough here to put an honest rustic like you into the right
train. That being the case, resumed the captain with a smile, I
place myself under your protection. I accept the pledge, rejoined
Pedrillo. You have only to acquaint me with your particular
taste, and I engage to give you a savoury slice out of the
ministerial pasty.

We had no sooner opened our minds to this young fellow, so full
of kind assurances, than he inquired where Don Annibal resided;
then, promising that we should hear from him on the following
day, he vanished without informing us what he meant to do, or
even telling us whether he belonged to the Duke of Lerma's
household. I was curious to know what this Pedrillo was, whose
turn of mind appeared to be so brisk and active. He is a brave
lad, said the captain, who waited on me some years ago, but
finding me out at elbows, went away in search of a better
service. There was no offence to me in all that; it is very
natural to change when one cannot be worse off. The creature is
pleasant enough, not deficient in parts, and happy in a spirit of
intrigue which would wheedle with the devil. But notwithstanding
all his fine pretence, I am not sanguine in my reckoning on the
zeal he has just testified for me. Perhaps, said I, there may be
some plausibility in his designs. Should he be a retainer, for
example, to any of the duke's principal officers, it will be in
his power to serve you. You have lived too long in the world not
to know that in great houses everything is done by party and
cabal; that the masters are governed by two or three upper
servants about their persons, who, in their turn, are governed by
that multitude of menials attendant upon them.

On the next morning we saw Pedrillo at our breakfast table.
Gentlemen, said he, if I did not explain myself yesterday as to
my means of serving Captain Chinchilla, it was because we were
not in a place where such a communication could be made with
safety. Besides, I was disposed to ascertain whether the thing
was feasible, before you were made parties in it. Understand,
then, that I am the confidential servant of Signor Don Rodrigo de
Calderona, the Duke of Lerma's first secretary. My master, who is
much addicted to women, goes almost every evening to sup with a
little Arragonian nightingale, whom he keeps in a cage near the
purlieus of the court. She is quite a young girl from Albarazin,
a most lovely creature. She has some wit as well as beauty, and
sings enchantingly; they call her the Spanish Syren. I am the
bearer of some tender inquiries every morning, and am just come
from her. I have proposed to her to pass off Signor Don Annibal
for her uncle, and the object of the forgery is to engage her
lover in his interests. She is very willing to lend her aid in
the business. Besides some little commission to which she looks
forward on the profits, it will tickle her vanity to be taken for
the niece of a military man.

Signor de Chinchilla looked very grim at this suggestion. He
declared his extreme abhorrence of becoming a party concerned in
a mere swindling trick, and still more of adopting a female
adventurer, no better than she should be, into his family, and
thus casting a stain upon its immaculate purity. It was not only
for himself that he felt all this soreness; there was a recoil of
ignominy on his ancestors, which would lay their honours level
with the dust. This morbid delicacy seemed out of season to
Pedrillo, who could not help expressing his contempt of it thus.
You must surely be out of your wits to take the matter up on that
footing. A fine market you bring your morals to, you dictators
from the plough, with your ridiculous squeamishness! Now you seem
a good sensible man, appealing to me as he spoke these last
words. Can you believe your ears when you hear such scruples
advanced? Heaven defend us! At court, of all the places in the
world, to look at morals through a microscope! Let fortune come
under what haggard form she may, they hug her in their arms, and
swear she is a beauty.

My way of thinking was precisely with Pedrillo; and we dinned it
so stoutly into both the captain's ear; as to make him the
Spanish Syren's uncle against nature and inclination. When we had
so far prevailed over his pride, we all three set about drawing
up a new memorial for the minister, which was revised, with a
copious interlacing of additions and corrections. I then wrote it
out fair, and Pedrillo carried it to the Arragonian chauntress,
who that very evening put it into the hands of Signor Don
Rodrigo, telling her story so artlessly that the secretary,
really supposing her the captain s niece, promised to take up his
case. A few days afterwards we reaped the fruits of our little
project. Pedrillo came back to our house with the lofty air of a
benefactor. Good news, said he to Chinchilla. The king is going
to make a new grant of officers, places, and pensions; nor will
your name be forgotten in the list. But I am specially
commissioned to inquire what present you purpose making to the
Spanish Syren, for the piper must be paid. As to myself, I vow
and protest that I will not take a farthing; the pleasure of
having contributed to patch up my old master's broken fortunes,
is more to me than all the ingots of the Indies. But it is not
precisely so with our nymph of Albarazin. she has a little Jewish
blood to plead, when the Christian precept of loving your
neighbour as herself is preached up to her. She would pick her
own natural father's pocket; so judge you whether she would be
above making a bargain with a travelling uncle.

She has only to name her own terms, answered Don Annibal.
Whatever my pension may be, she shall have the third of it
annually if she pleases; I will pledge my word for it; and that
proportion ought to satisfy her craving, if his Catholic Majesty
had settled his whole exchequer on me. I would as soon take your
word as your bond, for my own part, replied the nimble-footed
messenger of Don Rodrigo; I know that it will stand the assay;
but you have to deal with a little creature who knows herself,
and naturally supposes that she knows all the rest of the world
by the same token. Besides, she would like better to take it in
the lump; two-thirds to be paid down now in ready money. Why, how
the devil does she mean that I should get the wherewithal? bawled
the captain in a quandary. Does she take me for an auditor of
public accounts, or treasurer to a charity? You cannot have made
her acquainted with my circumstances. Yes, but I have, replied
Pedrillo; she knows very well that you are poorer than Job; after
what she has heard from me she could think no otherwise. But do
not make yourself uneasy, my brain is never at a loss for an
expedient. I know an old scoundrel of an usurer, who will take
ten per cent, if he can get no more. You must assign your first
year's pension to him, in acknowledgment for a like valuable
consideration from him, which you will in point of fact receive,
only deducting the above-mentioned interest. As to security, the
lender will take your castle at Chinchilla, for want of better;
there will be no dispute about that.

The captain declared his readiness to accept the terms, in case
of his being so fortunate as to possess any beneficial interest
in the good things to be given away the next morning. It happened
accordingly. He got a government with a pension of three hundred
pistoles. As soon as the news came, he signed and sealed as
required, settled his little concerns in town, and went off again
for New Castile with a balance of some few pistoles in his
favour.


CH. XIII. -- Gil Blas comes across his dear friend Fabricio at
court. Great ecstacy on both sides. They adjourn together, and
compare notes; but their conversation is too curious to be
anticipated.

I HAD contracted a habit of going to the royal palace every
morning, where I lounged away two or three good hours in seeing
the good people pass to and fro; but their aspect was less
imposing there than in other places, as the lesser stars turn
pale in the presence of the sun. One day as I was walking back
and fore, and strutting about the apartments, making about as
wise a figure there as my neighbours, I spied out Fabricio, whom
I had left at Valladolid in the service of a hospital director.
It surprised me not a little that he was chatting familiarly with
the Duke of Medina Sidonia and the Marquis of Santa Cruz, Those
two noblemen, if my senses did not deceive me, were listening
with admiration to his prattle. To crown the whole, he was as
handsomely dressed as a grandee.

Surely I must be mistaken! thought I. Can this possibly be the
son of Nunez the barber? More likely it is some young courtier
who bears a strong resemblance to him. But my suspense was of no
long duration. The party broke up, and I accosted Fabricio. He
knew me at once; took me by the hand, and after pressing through
the crowd to get out of the precincts, said with a hearty
greeting, My dear Gil Blas, I am delighted to see you again. What
are you doing at Madrid? Are you still at service? Some place
about the court perhaps? How do matters stand with you? Let me
into the history of all that has happened to you since your
precipitate flight from Valladolid. You ask a great many
questions in a breath, replied I; and we are not in a fit place
for story-telling. You are in the right, answered he; we shall be
better at home Come, I will shew you the way; it is not far hence
I am quite my own master, with all my comforts about me;
perfectly easy as to the main chance, with a light heart and a
happy temper; because I am determined to see everything on the
bright side.

I accepted the proposal, and Fabricio escorted me. We stopped at
a house of magnificent appearance, where he told me that he
lived. There was a court to cross; on one side it had a grand
staircase leading to a suite of state apartments, and on the
other a small flight, dark and narrow, whither we betook
ourselves to a residence elevated in a different sense from what
he had boasted. It consisted of a single room, which my
contriving friend had divided into four by deal partitions. The
first served as an ante-chamber to the second, where he lay: of
the third he made his closet, of the last his kitchen, The
chamber and antechamber were papered with maps, and many a sheet
of philosophical discussion; nor was the furniture by any means
unsuitable to the hangings. There was a large brocade bed much
the worse for wear; tawdry old chairs with coarse yellow
coverings, fringed with Grenada silk of the same colour, a table
with gilt feet, and a cloth over it that once aspired to be red,
bordered with tinsel and embroidery tarnished by that old
corroder, time; with an ebony cabinet, ornamented with figures in
a clumsy taste of sculpture. Instead of a convenient desk, he had
a small table in his closet; and his library was made up with
some few books, and a great many bundles of paper arranged on
shelves one above the other the whole length of the wall. His
kitchen, too modest to put the rest of the establishment out of
countenance, exhibited a frugal assortment of earthenware and
other necessary implements of cookery.

Fabricio, when he had allowed me leisure to philosophize on his
domestic arrangements, begged to know my opinion of his
apartments and his housekeeping, and whether I was not enchanted
with them: Yes, beyond all manner of doubt, answered I with a
roguish smile. You must have applied your wits to a good purpose
at Madrid, to have got so well accoutred. Of course you have some
post. Heaven preserve me from anything of the sort! replied he.
My line of life is far above all political situations. A man of
rank, to whom this house belongs, has given me a room in it,
whence I have contrived to piece out a suite of four, fitted up
in such taste as you may see. I devote my time to no employments
but what are just to my fancy, and never feel what it is to want.
Explain yourself more intelligibly, said I, interrupting him. You
set me all agog to be let into your little arrangements. Well,
then! said he, I will rid you of that devil curiosity at once. I
have commenced author, have plunged head long into the ocean of
literature; verse and prose run equally glib; in short I am a
jack of all trades to the muses.

What! you bound in solemn league and covenant to Apollo?
exclaimed I with most intolerable laughter. Nothing under a
prophet could ever have anticipated this. I should have been less
surprised at any other transformation. What possible delights
have you had the ingenuity to detect in the rugged landscape of
Parnassus? It should seem as if the labourers there have a very
poor taking in civil life, and feed on a coarse diet without
sauce. Out upon you! cried he, in dudgeon at the hint. You are
talking of those paltry authors, whose works and even their
persons are under the thumb of booksellers and players. Is it any
wonder that writers under such circumstances should be held
cheap? But the good ones, my friend, are on a better footing in
the world; and I think it may he affirmed, vanity apart, that my
name is to be found in their list. Questionless, said I, talents
like yours are convertible to every purpose; compositions from
such a pen are not likely to be insipid. But I am on the rack to
know how this rage for fencing with inky weapons could have
seized thee.

Your wonder and alarm has mind in it, replied Nunez. I was so
well pleased with my situation in the service of Signor Manuel
Ordonnez, that I had no hankering after any other. But my genius,
like that of Plautus, being too high. minded to contract itself
within the sphere of menial occupations, I wrote a play and got
it acted by a company then performing at Valladolid. Though it
was not worth the paper it was scrawled upon, it had more success
than many better pieces. Hence concluded I that the public was a
silly bird, and would hatch any eggs that were put under it. That
modest discovery, with the consequent madness of incessant
composition, alienated my affections from the hospital. The love
of poetry being stronger than the desire of accumulation, I
determined on repairing to Madrid, as the centre of everything
distinguished, to form my taste in that school. The first thing
was to give the governor warning, who parted with me to his own
great sorrow, from a sort of affection the result of similar
propensities. Fabricio, said he, what possible ground can you
have for discontent? None at all, sir, I replied; you are the
best of all possible masters, and I am deeply impressed with your
kind treatment; but you know one must follow whithersoever the
stars ordain. I feel the sacred fire within me, on whose aspiring
element my name is to be wafted to posterity. What confounded
nonsense! rejoined the old fellow, whose ideas were all
pecuniary. You are already become a fixture in the hospital, and
are made of a metal which may easily be manufactured into a
steward, or by good-luck even into a governor. You are going to
give up the great object of life, and to flutter about its
frippery. So much the worse for you, honest friend!

The governor, seeing how fruitless it was to struggle with my
fixed resolve, paid me my wages, and made me a present of fifty
ducats as an acknowledgment of my services. Thus, between this
supply and what I have been able to scrape together out of some
little commissions, which were assigned to me from an opinion of
my disinterestedness, I was in circumstances to make a very
pretty appearance on my arrival at Madrid; which I was not
negligent in doing, though the literary tribe in our country are
not over-punctilious about decency or cleanliness. I soon got
acquainted with Lope de Vega, Cervantes, and the whole set of
them; but though they were fine fellows, and thought so by the
public, I chose for my model in preference, Don Lewis de Gongora,
the incomparable, a young bachelor of Cordova, decidedly the
first genius that ever Spain produced. He will not suffer his
works to be printed during his lifetime; but confines himself to
a private communication among his friends. What is very
remarkable, nature has gifted him with the uncommon talent of
succeeding in every department of poetry. His principal
excellence is in satire; there he outshines himself. He does not
resemble, like Lucilius, a muddy stream with a slimy bottom; but
is rather like the Tagus, rolling its transparent waters over a
golden sand.

You give a fine description of this bachelor, said I to Fabricio;
and questionless a character of such merit must have attracted an
infinite deal of envy. The whole gang of authors, answered he,
good and bad equally, are open mouthed against him. He deals in
bombast, says one; aims at double meanings, luxuriates in
metaphor and affects transposition. His verses, says another,
have all the obscurity of those which the Salian priests used to
chaunt in their processions, and which nobody was the wiser for
hearing. There are others who impute it to him as a fault, to
have exercised his genius at one time in sonnets or ballads, at
another in play-writing, in heroic stanzas, and in minor efforts
of wit alternately, as if he had madly taken upon himself to
eclipse the best writers each in their own favourite walk. But
all these thrusts of jealousy are successfully parried, where the
muse, which is their mark, becomes the idol of the great and of
the multitude at once.

Under so able a master did I serve my apprenticeship; and, vanity
apart, the preceptor was reflected in the disciple. So happily
did I catch his spirit, that by this time he would not be ashamed
to own some of my detached pieces. After his example, I carry my
goods to market at great houses where the bidding is eager, and
the sagacity of the bidders not difficult to match. It is true
that I have a very insinuating talent at recitation; which places
my compositions in no disadvantageous light. In short, I am the
dear delight of the nobility, and live in the most particular
intimacy with the Duke of Medina Sidonia, just as Horace used to
live with his jolly companion Maecenas. By such conjuration and
mighty magic have I won the name of author. You see the method
lies within a narrow compass. Now, Gil Blas, it is your turn to
deliver a round unvarnished tale of your exploits.

On this hint I spake; and unlike most narrators, gave all the
important particulars, passing lightly over minute and tiresome
circumstances. The action of talking, long continued, puts one in
mind of dining. His ebony cabinet, which served for larder,
pantry, and all possible uses, was ransacked for napkins, bread,
a shoulder of mutton far gone in a decline, with its last and
best contents, a bottle of excellent wine; so that we sat down to
table in high spirits, as friends are wont to do after a long
separation. You observe, said he, this free and independent
manner of life. I might find a plate laid for me every day, if I
chose it, in the very first houses; but, besides that the muse
often pays me a visit and detains me within doors, I have a
little of Aristippus in my nature. I can pass with equal relish
from the great and busy world to my re treat, from all the
researches of luxury to the simplicity of my own frugal board.

The wine was so good, that we encroached upon a second bottle. As
a relish to our fruit and cheese, I begged to be favoured with
the sight of something, the offspring of his inspired moments. He
immediately rummaged among his papers, and read me a sonnet with
much energy of tone. Yet, with all the advantage of accent and
expression, there was something so uncouth in the arrangement, as
to baffle all conjecture about the meaning. He saw how it puzzled
me. This sonnet then, said he, is not quite level to your
comprehension! Is not that the fact! I owned that I should have
preferred a construction somewhat less forced. He began laughing
at my rusticity. Well, then! replied he; we will say that this
sonnet would confuse clearer heads than thine: it is all the
better for that Sonnets, odes, in short all compositions which
partake of the sublime, are of course the reverse of the simple
and natural: they are enveloped in clouds, and their darkness
constitutes their grandeur. Let the poet only fancy that be
understands himself no matter whether his readers understand him
or not. You are laughing at me, my friend, said I, interrupting
him. Let poetry be of what species it may, good sense and
intelligible diction are essential to its powers of pleasing. If
your peerless Gongora is not a little more lucid than yourself, I
protest that his merit will never pass current with me. Such
poets may entrap their own age into applause, but will never live
beyond it. Now let me have a taste of your prose.

Nunez shewed me a preface which he meant to prefix to a dramatic
miscellany then in the press. He insisted on having my opinion. I
like not your prose one atom better than your verse, said I. Your
sonnet is a roaring deluge of emptiness; and as for your preface,
it is disfigured by a phraseology stolen from languages yet in
embryo, by words not stamped in the mint of general use, by all
the perplexity of a style that does not know what to make of
itself. In a word, the composition is altogether a thing of your
own. Our classical and standard books are written in a very
different manner. Poor tasteless wretch! exclaimed Fabricio. You
are not aware that every prose writer who aspires to the
reputation of sentiment and delicacy in these days, affects this
style of his own, these perplexities and innovations which are a
stumbling-block to you. There are five or six of us determined
reformers of our language, who have undertaken to turn the
Spanish idiom topsy-turvy; and with a blessing on our endeavours,
we will pull it down and build it up again in defiance of Lope de
Vega, Cervantes, and all the host of wits who cavil at our new
modes of speech. Our party is strongly supported in the
fashionable world, and we have laid violent hands upon the
pulpit.

After all, continued he, our project is commendable; for, to
speak without prejudice, we have ten times the merit of those
natural writers, who express themselves just like the mob. I
cannot conceive why so many sensible men are taken with them. It
is all very well at Athens and at Rome, in a wild and
undistinguishing democracy; and on that principle only could
Socrates tell Alcibiades, that the last appeal was to the people
in all disputes about language. But at Madrid there is a polite
and a vulgar usage; so that our courtiers talk in a different
tongue from their tradesmen. You may assure yourself that it is
so; in fine, this newly invented style is carrying everything
before it, and turning old nature out of doors. Now I will
explain to you by a single instance the difference between the
elegance of our diction and the flatness of theirs. They would
say, for example, in plain terms, "Ballets incidental to the
piece are an ornament to a play;" but in our mode of expression,
we say more exquisitely, "Ballets incidental to the piece are the
very life and soul of the play." Now observe the phrase; life and
soul. Are you sensible how glowing it is, at the same time how
descriptive, setting before you all the motions of the dancers,
as on an intellectual stage?

I broke in upon my reformer of language with a burst of laughter.
Get along with you, Fabricio, said I, you are a coxcomb of your
own manufacture, with your affected finery of phrase. And you,
answered he, are a blockhead of nature's clumsy moulding, with
your starch simplicity. He then went on taunting me with the
archbishop of Grenada's angry banter on my dismission. "Get about
your business! Go and tell my treasurer to pay you a hundred
ducats, and take my blessing in addition to that sum. God speed
you, good master Gil Blas! I heartily pray that you may do well
in the world! There is no thing to stand in your way, but a
little better taste." I roared out in a still louder explosion of
laughter at this lucky hit; and Fabricio, easily appeased on the
score of impiety, as manifested in the opinion expressed
concerning his writings, lost nothing of his pleasant and
propitious temper. We got to the bottom of our second bottle; and
then rose from the table in fine order for an adventure. Our
first intention was to see what was to be seen upon the Prado;
but passing in front of a liquor-shop, it came into our heads
that we might as well go in.

The company was in general tolerably select at this house of
call. There were two distinct apartments; and the pastime in each
was of a very opposite nature. One was devoted to games of chance
or skill; the other to literary and scientific discussion: and
there were at that moment two clever men by profession handling
an argument most pertinaciously, before ten or twelve auditors
deeply interested in the discussion. There was no occasion to
join the circle, because the metaphysical thunder of their logic
made itself heard at a more respectful distance: the heat and
passion with which this abstract controversy was managed made the
two philosophers look little better than madmen. A certain
Eleazar used to cast out devils, by tying a ring to the nose of
the possessed; had these learned swine been ringed in the same
manner, how many little imps would have taken wing out of their
nostrils? Angels and ministers of grace defend us, said I to my
companion: what contortions of gesture, what extravagance of
elocution! One might as well argue with the town crier. How
little do we know our natural calling in society! Very true
indeed, answered he: you have read of Novius, the Roman
pawnbroker, whose lungs went as far beyond the rattle of chariot-
wheels, as his conscience beyond the rate of legal interest; the
Novii must certainly have been transplanted into Spain, and these
fellows are lineal descendants. But the hopeless part of the case
is, that though our organs of sense are deafened, our
understandings are not invigorated at their expense. We thought
it best to make our escape from these braying metaphysicians, and
by that prudent motion to avoid a headache which was just
beginning to annoy us. We went and seated ourselves in a corner
of the other room, whence, as we sipped our refreshing beverage,
all comers and goers were obnoxious to our criticism. Nunez was
acquainted with almost the whole set. Heaven and earth! exclaimed
he, the clash of philosophy is as yet but in its beginning; fresh
reinforcements are coming in on both sides. Those three men just
on the threshold, mean to let slip the dogs of war. But do you
see those two queer fellows going out? That little swarthy,
leather-complexioned Adonis, with long lank hair parted in the
middle with mathematical exactness, is Don Juliano de Villanuno.
He is a young barrister, with more of the prig than the lawyer
about him. A party of us went to dine with him the other day. The
occupation we caught him in was singular enough. He was amusing
himself in his office with making a tall grey-hound fetch and
carry the briefs in the causes which were so unfortunate as to
have him retained; and of course the canine amicus curiae set his
fangs indifferently into the flesh of plaintiff or defendant,
tearing law, equity, precedent, and principle into shreds. That
licentiate at his elbow, with jolly, pimple-spangled nose and
cheeks, goes by the name of Don Cherubino Tonto. He is a canon of
Toledo, and the greatest fool that was ever suffered to walk the
earth without a keeper. And yet, he arrays his features in that
sort of not quite unmeaning smile, that you would give him credit
for good sense as well as good humour. His eye has the look of
cunning if not of wisdom, and his laugh too much of sarcasm for
an absolute idiot. One would conclude that he had a turn for
mischief, but kept it down from principle and feeling. If you
wish to take his opinion upon a work of genius, he will hear it
read with so grave and wrapt a silence, as nothing but deep
thought and acute mental criticism could justify; but the truth
is, that he comprehends not one word, and therefore can have
nothing to say. He was of the barrister party. There were a
thousand good things said, as there always must be in a
professional company. Don Cherubino added nothing to the mass of
merriment; but looked such perfect approbation at those who did,
was so tractable and complimentary a listener, that every man at
table placed him second in the comparative estimate of merit.

Do you know, said I to Nunez, who those two fellows are with
dirty clothes and matted hair, their elbows on that table in the
corner, and their cheeks upon their hands, whiffing foul breath
into each other's nostrils as they lay their heads together? He
told me that by their faces they were strangers to him; but that
by physical and moral tokens they could only be coffee-house
politicians, venting their spleen against the measures of
government. But do look at that spruce spark, whistling as he
paces up and down the other room, and balancing himself
alternately on one toe and on the other. That is Don Augustino
Moreto, a young poet sufficiently of nature's mint and coinage to
pass current, if flatterers and sciolists had not debased him
into a mere coxcomb by their misplaced admiration. The man to
whom he is going up with that familiar shake by the hand, is one
of the set who write verses and then call themselves poets; who
claim a speaking acquaintance with the muses, but never were of
their private parties.

Authors upon authors, nothing but authors! exclaimed he, pointing
out two dashing blades. One would think they had made an
appointment on purpose to pass in review before you. Don Bernardo
Deslenguado and Don Sebastian of Villa Viciosa! The first is a
vinegar-flavoured vintage of Parnassus, a satirist by trade and
company; he hates all the world, and is not liked the better for
his taste. As for Don Sebastian, he is the milk and honey of
criticism; he would not have the guilt of ill-nature on his
conscience for the universe. He has just brought out a comedy
without a single idea, which has succeeded with an audience of
tantamount ideas; and he has just now published it to vindicate
his innocence.

Gongora's candid pupil was running on in his career of benevolent
explanation, when one of the Duke de Medina Sidonia's household
came up and said: Signor Don Fabricio, my lord duke wishes to
speak with you. You will find him at home. Nunez, who knew that
the wishes of a great lord could not be too soon gratified, left
me without ceremony; but he left me in the utmost consternation,
to hear him called Don, and thus ennobled, in spite of master
Chrysostom the barber's escutcheon, who had the honour to call
him father.


CH. XIV. -- Fabricio finds a situation for Gil Blas in the
establishment of Count Galiano, a Sicilian nobleman.

I WAS too happy in Fabricio's society, not to bunt him out again
early the next morning. Good day to you, Signor Don Fabricio,
said I on my first approach; it seems you are the picked and
chosen flower, or rather, saving your presence, the nondescript
excrescence of the Asturian nobility. This sarcasm had no other
effect than to set him laughing heartily. Then the title of Don
was not lost upon you! exclaimed he. No, indeed, my noble lord,
answered I; and you will give me leave to tell you that when you
were recounting your transformations to me yesterday, you forgot
the most extraordinary. Exactly so, replied he; but to speak
sincerely, if I have taken up that prefix of dignity, it is less
to tickle my own vanity, than in tenderness to that of others.
You know what stuff the Spaniards are made of; an honest man is
no honest man to them, if his honour is not bolstered up with
escutcheons, pedigree, and patrimony. I may tell you, moreover,
that there are so many gentry, and very queer soft of gentry too,
dubbed Don Francisco, Don Pedro, Don What-do-you-call-him, or Don
Devil, that if they owe their coats of arms to any herald but
their own impudence, modern nobility is a mere drug in the
market, so that a plebeian of nature's ennobling confers infinite
honour on the upstarts of nn artificial creation, by herding with
their order.

But let us change the subject, added he. Last night, supping at
the Duke de Medina Sidonia's, with among other company we had
Count Galiano, a great Sicilian nobleman, the conversation turned
upon the ridiculous effects of self-love. Delighted at having a
case in point by way of illustration, I treated them with the
story of the homilies. You may well suppose that there was a
hearty laugh, and that the archbishop's dignity was not saved in
the concussion; but the effect was not amiss for you, since the
company felt for your situation; and Count Galiano, after a long
string of questions, which of course I answered to your
advantage, commissioned me to introduce you. I was just now going
to look after you for that purpose. In all probability he means
to offer you a situation as one of his secretaries. I advise you
not to hang back. The count is rich, and lives away at Madrid, on
the scale of an ambassador. He is said to have come to court on a
negotiation with the Duke of Lerma, respecting some crown lands
which that minister thinks of alienating in Sicily. In one word,
Count Galiano, though a Sicilian, has every feature of
generosity, fair dealing, and gentlemanly conduct. You cannot do
better than get upon that noble man's establishment. In all
probability, the flattering prophecy respecting you at Grenada is
to be fulfilled in his person.

It was my full determination, said I to Nunez, to take my swing
about town and look at men and manners a little, before the
harness was buckled on my back again; but you paint your Sicilian
nobleman in colours which fascinate my imagination and change my
purpose. I should like to close with him at once. You will do so
very soon, replied he, or I am much deceived. We sallied forth
together immediately, and went to the count's, who resided in the
house of his friend, Don Sancho d'Avila, the latter being then in
the country.

The court-yard was overrun with pages and footmen in rich and
elegant liveries, while the ante-chamber was blockaded by
esquires, gentlemen, and various officers of the household. They
were all as fine as possible, but with so whimsical an assortment
of features, that you might have taken them for a cluster of
monkeys dressed up to satirize the Spanish fashions. Do what you
will, there is a certain class of men and women in nature, whom
no art can trick out into anything human.

At the very name of Don Fabricio, a lane was formed for my
patron, and I followed in the rear. The count was in his
dressing-gown, sitting on a sofa and taking his chocolate. We
made our obeisance in the most respectful manner; while an
inclination of the head on his part, accompanied with a
condescending smile, won my heart at once. It is very wonderful,
and yet very common, how the most trifling notice from the great
penetrates the very soul of those who are not accustomed to it!
They must have behaved like fiends, before their behaviour will
be complained of.

After taking his chocolate, he recreated himself with the humours
of a large ape, which underwent the name of Cupid: why the ape
was made a god, or the god likened to an ape, the parties
concerned can best answer; the only point of resemblance seemed
to be mischief. At all events, this hairy brat of the sylvan
Venus had so gambolled himself into his master's good graces, had
established such a character for wit and humour, that the life of
society was extinguished in his absence. As for Nunez and myself,
though we had a better turn for drollery, we were cunning enough
to chime in with the prevailing taste. The Sicilian was highly
delighted with this, and tore himself away for a moment from his
favourite pastime, just to tell me: My friend, you have only to
say whether you choose to be one of my secretaries. If the
situation suits you, the salary is two hundred pistoles a year.
If Don Fabricio gives you a character, that is enough. Yes, my
lord, cried Nunez, I am not such a cowardly fellow as Plato, who
introduced one of his friends to Dionysius the tyrant, and then
was afraid to back his own recommendation. But I have no anxiety
about being reproached on that head.

I thanked the poet of the Asturias with a low bow, for having so
much better an opinion of me than Plato had of his friend. Then
addressing my patron, I assured him of my zeal and fidelity. No
sooner did this good nobleman perceive his proposal to be
acceptable, then he rang for his steward, and after talking to
him apart, said to me: Gil Blas, I will explain the nature of
your post hereafter. Meanwhile, you have only to follow that
right-hand man of mine; he has his orders how to bestow you. I
immediately retreated, leaving Fabricio behind with the Count and
Cupid.

The steward, who came from Messina, and proved by all his actions
that he came thence, led the way to his own room, overwhelming me
all the while with the kindness of his reception. He sent the
tailor who lived upon the skirts of the household, and ordered
him to make me out of hand a suit of equal magnificence with
those of the principal officers. The tailor took my measure and
withdrew. As to lodging, said the native of Messina, I know a
room which will just suit you. But stay! Have you breakfasted? I
answered in the negative. Oh! poor shamefaced youth, replied he,
why did not you say so? Come this way: I will introduce you
where, thank heaven, you have only to ask and have.

So saying, he led me down into the buttery, where we found the
clerk of the kitchen, who was a Neapolitan, and of course a
complete match for his neighbour on the other side of the water.
It might be said of this pair that they were formed to meet by
nature. This honest clerk of the kitchen was doing justice to his
trade by cramming himself and five or six hangers-on with ham,
tongue, sausages, and other savoury compositions, which, besides
their own relish, possess the merit of engendering thirst: we
made common cause with these jolly fellows, and helped them to
toss off some of my lord the count's best wines. While these
things were going on in the buttery, kindred exploits were
performing in the kitchen. The cook too was regaling three or
four tradesmen of his acquaintance, who liked good wine as well
as ourselves, nor disdained to stuff their craws with meat
pasties and game: the very scullions were at free quarters, and
filched whatever they pleased. I fancied myself in a house given
up to plunder; and yet what I saw was comparatively fair and
honest. These little festivities were laughing matters; but the
private transactions of the family were very serious.


CH. XV. -- The employment of Gil Blas in Don Galiano's household.

I WENT away to fetch my moveables to my new residence. On my
return the count was at table with several noblemen and the poet
Nunez, who called about him as if perfectly at home, and took a
principal share in the conversation. Indeed, he never opened his
lips without applause. So much for wit! with that commodity at
market, a man may pay his way in any company.

It was my lot to dine with the gentlemen of the household, who
were served nearly as well as their employer. After meal-time I
withdrew to ruminate on my lot. So far so good, Gil Blas! said I
to myself: here you are in the family of a Sicilian count, of
whose character you know nothing. To judge by appearances, you
will be as much in your element as a duck upon the water. But do
not make too sure! you ought to look askew at your horoscope,
whose unkindly position you have too often experienced with a
vengeance. Independent of that, it is not easy to conjecture what
he means you to do. There are secretaries and a steward already:
where can your post be? In all likelihood you are intended to
manage his little private affairs. Well and good! There is no
better luck about the house of a great nobleman, if you would
travel post haste to make your fortune. In the performance of
more honourable services, a man gets on only step by step, and
even at that pace often sticks by the way.

While these philosophical reflections were revolving in my mind,
a servant came to tell me that all the company was gone home, and
that my lord the count was inquiring for me. I flew immediately
to his apartment, where I found him lolling on the sofa, ready to
take his afternoon's nap, with his monkey by his side.

Come nearer, Gil Blas, said he; take a chair, and hear me
attentively. I placed myself in an attitude of profound
listening, when he addressed me as follows. Don Fabricio has
informed me that, among other good qualities, you have that of
sincere attachment to your masters, and incorruptible integrity.
These are my inducements for proposing to take you into my
service. I stand in need of a friend in a domestic, to espouse my
interests and apply his whole heart and soul to the reform of my
establishment. My fortune is large, it must be confessed, but my
expenditure far exceeds my income every year. And how happens
that? Because they rob, ransack, and devour me. I might as well
be in a forest infested by banditti, as an inhabitant of my own
house. I suspect the clerk of the kitchen and my steward of
playing into one another's hands; and unless my thoughts are
unjust as well as uncharitable, they are pushing forward as fast
as they can to ruin me beyond redemption. You will ask me what I
have to do but send them packing, if I think them scoundrels. But
then where are others to be got of a better breed? It will be
sufficient to place them under the eye of a man who shall be
invested with the right of control over their conduct; and you
have I chosen to execute this commission. If you discharge it
well, be assured that your services will not be repaid with
ingratitude. I shall take care to provide you with a very
comfortable settlement in Sicily.

With this he dismissed me; and that very evening, in the presence
of the whole household, I was proclaimed principal manager and
surveyor-general of the family. Our gentlemen of Messina and
Naples expressed no particular chagrin at first, because they
considered me as a spark of mettle like their own, and took it
for granted, that though the loaf was to be shared with a third,
there would always be cut and come again for the triumvirate. But
they looked inexpressibly foolish the next day, when I declared
myself in serious terms a decided enemy to all peculation and
underhand dealing. From the clerk of the kitchen I required the
buttery accounts without varnish or concealment. I went down into
the cellar. The furniture of the butler's pantry underwent a
strict examination, particularly in the articles of plate and
linen. Next I read them a serious lecture on the duty of acting
for their employer as they would for themselves; exhorted them to
adopt a system of economy in their expenditure; and wound up my
harangue with a protestation, that his lordship should be
acquainted with the very first instance of any unfair tricks that
I should discover in the exercise of my office.

But I had not yet got to the length of my tether. There was still
wanting a scout to ascertain whether they had any private
understanding. I fixed upon a scullion, who, won over by my
promises, told me that I could not have applied to a better
person to be informed of all that was passing in the family; that
the clerk of the kitchen and the steward were one as good as the
other, and agreed to burn the candle at both ends; that half the
provisions bought for the table were made perquisites by these
gentlemen; that the Neapolitan kept a lady who lives opposite St.
Thomas's college, and his colleague, not to be outdone, provided
another next door to the Sungate; that these two nymphs had their
larder regularly supplied every morning, while the cook,
following a good example, sent a few little nice things to a
widow of his acquaintance in the neighbourhood: but as he winked
at the table arrangements of his dear and confidential friends,
it was but fair that he should draw whenever he pleased upon the
wine-cellar: in short, by the practices of these three
bloodsuckers, a most horrible system of extravagance had found
its way into my lord the count's establishment. If you doubt my
veracity, added the scullion, only take the trouble of going to-
morrow morning about seven o'clock into the neighbourhood of St
Thomas's college, and you will see me with a load upon my back,
which will convert your suspicions into certainty. Then you, said
I, are in the confidence of these honest purveyors! I am factor
to the clerk of the kitchen, answered he; and one of my comrades
runs on errands for the steward.

I had the curiosity the next day to loiter about St. Thomas's
college at the appointed hour. My informer was punctual to time
and place. He brought with him a large tray full of butcher's
meat, poultry, and game. I took an account of every article; and
drew out the bill of fare in my memorandum book, for the purpose
of shewing it to my master: at the same time telling my little
turnspit to execute his commission as usual.

His Sicilian lordship, naturally warm in his temper, would have
turned his countryman and the Italian out of doors together, in
the first fury of his anger; but after cooling upon it, he got
rid of the former only, and gave me his vacant place. Thus my
office of supervisor was suppressed very shortly after its
creation; nor did I relinquish it with any reluctance. To define
it strictly and properly, it was nothing better than that of a
spy with a sounding title; there was nothing substantial in the
nature of the appointment: whereas to the stewardship was tied
the key of the strong box, and with that goes the mastery of the
whole family. There are so many little perquisites and so much
patronage attached to that department of administration, that a
man must inevitably get rich, almost in spite of his own honesty.

But our Neapolitan was not so easily to be driven from his
strongholds. Observing to what a pitch of savage zeal I carried
my integrity, and that I was up every morning time enough to
enter in my books the exact quantity of meat that came from
market, he abandoned the practice of sending it off by wholesale:
yet the plunderer did not therefore contract the scale of his
demands on the animal creation. He was cunning enough to make it
as broad as it was long, by arranging the services with so much
the more profusion. Thus, what was sent down again untouched
being his property by culinary common law, he had nothing to do
but to pamper up his pet with victuals ready dressed, instead of
giving her the trouble of cooking for herself. The devil will
levy his due out of every transaction; so that the count was very
little the better for his paragon of a steward. The unbounded
prodigality in our style of setting out a table, even to a
surfeiting degree, was a plain hint to me of what was going
forward; I therefore took upon myself to retrench the
superfluities of every course. This, however, was done with so
judicious a hand, that there was no thing like parsimony to be
discovered. No one would ever have missed what was taken away;
and yet the expense was reduced very considerably by a well-
regulated economy. That was just what my employer wanted; good
housewifery, but a magnificent establishment. There was a love of
saving at the bottom; but a taste for grandeur was the ostensible
passion.

Abuses seldom exist alone. The wine flowed too freely. If, for
instance, there were a dozen gentlemen at his lordship's table,
the consumption was seldom less than fifty, sometimes sixty
bottles, This was strange; and looked as if there was more in it
than met the lips of the guests. Hereupon I consulted my oracle
of the scullery, whence I derived most of my wisdom: for he
brought me a faithful account of all that was said and done in
the kitchen, where they had not the least suspicion of him. It
seemed that the havoc of which I complained proceeded from a new
confederacy between the clerk of the kitchen, the cook, and the
under butler. The latter carried off the bottles half full, and
shared their contents with his allies, I spoke to him on the
subject, threatening to turn him and all the footmen under him
out of doors at a minute's warning, if ever they did the like
again. The hint was understood, and the evil remedied. I took
especial care lest the slightest of my services should be lost
upon my master, who overwhelmed me with commendations, and took a
greater liking to me every day. On my part, as a reward to the
scullion, he was promoted to the situation next under the cook.

The Neapolitan was furious at encountering me in every direction.
The most aggravating circumstance of the whole was the
overhauling of his accounts; for, to pare his nails the closer, I
had gone into the market, and informed myself of the prices. I
followed him through all his doublings, and always took off the
market penny which he wanted to add. He must have cursed me a
hundred times a day; but the curses of the wicked fall in
blessings on the good. I wonder how he could stay in his place
under such discipline; but probably something still stuck by the
fingers.

Fabricio, whom I saw occasionally, rather blamed my conduct than
otherwise. Heaven grant, said he, one day, that all this virtue
may meet with its reward! But between ourselves you might as well
be a little more practicable with the clerk of the kitchen. What!
answered I, shall this freebooter put a bold face upon the
matter, and charge a fish at ten pistoles in his bill, which
costs only four, and would you have me pass the articles in my
accounts? Why not? replied he, coolly. He has only to let you go
snacks in the commission, and the books will be balanced in your
favour by the customary rule of stewardship arithmetic. Upon my
word, my friend, you are enough to overturn all regular systems
of housekeeping; and you are likely to end your days in a livery,
if you let the eel slip through your fingers without skinning it.
You are to learn that fortune is a very woman; ready and eager to
surrender, but expecting the formality of a summons.

I only laughed at this doctrine; and Nunez laughed at it too,
when he found that bad advice was thrown away upon an
incorrigibly honest subject. He then wished to make me believe it
was all a mere joke. At all events, nothing could shake my
resolution to act for my employer as for myself. Indeed my
actions corresponded with my words on that subject; for I may
venture to say that in four months my master saved at least three
thousand ducats by my thrift.


CH. XVI. -- An accident happens to the Count de Galiano's monkey;
his lordship's affliction on that occasion. The illness of Gil
Blas, and its consequences.

AT the expiration of the before-mentioned time; the repose of the
family was marvellously troubled by an accident, which will
appear but a trifle to the reader; and yet it was a very serious
matter to the household, especially to me. Cupid, the monkey of
whom I was speaking, that animal, so much the idol of our lord
and master, attempting to leap from one window to another,
performed so ill as to fall into the court and put his leg out of
joint. No sooner were the fatal tidings carried to the count,
than he sung a dirge which pealed through all the neighbourhood.
In the extremity of his sufferings, every inmate without
exception was taken to task, and we were all within an inch of
being packed off about our business. But the storm only rumbled
without falling; he gave us and our negligence to the devil,
without being by any means select in the terms of the bequest.
The most notorious of the faculty in the line of fractures and
dislocations were sent for. They examined the poor dear leg, set,
and bound it up. But though they all gave it as their opinion
that there was no danger, my master could not be satisfied
without retaining the most eminent about the person of the
animal, till he could be pronounced to be in a state of
convalescence.

It would be a manifest injustice to the family affections of his
Sicilian lordship, not to commemorate all the agonizing
sensations of his soul during this period of painful suspense.
Would it be thought possible that this tender nurse did not stir
from his darling Cupid's bedside all the live-long day? The
bandages were never altered or adjusted but in his presence, and
he got up two or three times in the night to inquire after his
patient. The most provoking part of the business was, that all
the servants, and myself in particular, were required to be
eternally on the alert, to anticipate the slightest wishes of
this ridiculous baboon. In short, there was no peace in the
house, till the cursed beast, having recovered from the effects
of its fall, got back again to his old tricks and whirligigs.
After this shall we be mealy-mouthed about believing Suetonius,
when he tells us that Caligula cared more for his horse than for
all the world besides, that he gave him more than the
establishment and attendance of a senator, and that he even
wanted to make him consul? Our wise master stopped little short
of the emperor in his partiality to the monkey; and had serious
thoughts of purchasing for him the place of corregidor.

Mine was the worst luck of any in the family; for I had so topped
my part above all the other servants, by way of paying my court
to his lordship, and had nursed poor dear Cupid with such
assiduity, as to throw myself into a fit of illness. A violent
fever seized me, so that I was almost at death's door. They did
what they pleased with me for a whole fortnight, without my
consciousness; for the physicians and the fates were both
conspiring against me. But my youth was more than a match for the
fever and the prescriptions united. When I recovered my senses,
the first use I made of them was to observe myself removed to
another room. I wanted to know why; and asked an old woman who
nursed me: but she told me that I must not talk, as the physician
had expressly forbidden it. When we are well, we turn up our
noses at the doctors; but when we are sick, we are as much like
old women as themselves.

It seemed best therefore to keep silence, though with an
inveterate longing to hold converse with my attendant I was
debating the point in my own mind, when there came in two
foppish-looking fellows, dressed in the very extreme of fashion.
Nothing less than velvet would serve their turn, with linen and
lace to correspond. They looked like men of rank; and I could
have sworn that they were some of my master's friends come to see
me out of regard for him. Under that impression I attempted to
sit up, and flung away my nightcap to look genteel; but the nurse
forced me under the bedclothes again, and tucked me up,
announcing these gentlemen at the same time, as my physician and
apothecary.

The doctor came up to my bedside, felt my pulse, looked in my
face; and discovering undeniable symptoms of approaching
convalescence, assumed an air of triumph, as if it was all his
handiwork; and said there was nothing wanting but to keep the
bowels open, and then he flattered himself he might boast of
having performed an extraordinary cure. Speaking after this
manner, he dictated a prescription to the apothecary, looking in
the glass all the time, adjusting the dress of his hair, and
twisting his visage into shapes which set me laughing in spite of
my debility. At length he took his leave with a slight
inclination of the head, and went his way, more taken with the
contemplation of his own pretty person, than anxious about the
success of his remedies.

After his departure, the apothecary, not to have the trouble of a
visit for nothing, made ready to proceed as it is prescribed in
certain cases. Whether he was afraid that the old woman's skill
was not equal to the exigency, or whether he meant to enhance his
own services by assiduity, he chose to operate in person; but in
spite of practice and experience, accidents will happen. Haste to
return benefits is among the most amiable propensities of our
nature; and such was my eagerness not to be behindhand with my
benefactor, that his velvet dress bore immediate testimony to the
profuseness of my gratitude. This he considered merely as one of
those little occurrences which chequer the fortunes of the
pharmaceutical profession. A napkin is a resource for everything
in a sick room, and least said was soonest mended; so he wiped
himself quietly, vowing indemnity and vengeance to himself for
the necessity under which he unquestionably laboured of sending
his clothes to the scourer.

On the following morning he returned to the attack more modestly
equipped, though there was then no risk of my springing a
countermine, as he had only to administer the potion which the
doctor had prescribed the evening before. Besides that I felt
myself getting better every moment, I had taken such a dislike,
since the day before, to the pill-dispensing tribe, as to curse
the very universities where these graduated cut-throats kept
their exercises in the faculty of slaying. In this temper of
mind, I declared, with a round oath, that I would not accept of
health through such a medium, but would willingly make over
Hippocrates and his myrmidons to the devil. The apothecary, who
did not care a doit what became of his compound, if it was but
paid for, left the phial on the table, and stalked away in
Telamonian silence.

I immediately ordered that bitch of a medicine to be thrown out
of window, having set myself so doggedly against it, that I would
as soon have swallowed arsenic. Having once drawn the sword, I
threw away the scabbard; and erecting my tongue into an
independent potentate, told my nurse in a determined tone, that
she must absolutely inform me what was become of my master. The
old lady, fearing lest the development of the mystery might
completely overset me, or thinking possibly that her prey might
escape out of her clutches for want of a little irritating
contradiction, was most provokingly mute; but I was so pressing
in my demand to be obeyed, that she at length gave me a decisive
answer: Worthy sir, you have no longer any master but your own
will. Count Galiano is gone back into Sicily.

I could not believe my ears; and yet it was fatally the fact.
That nobleman, on the second day of my indisposition, being
afraid of harbouring death under the same roof with him, had the
benevolence to send me packing with my little effects to a ready-
furnished room, where providence was left to cure, or a nurse to
kill me, as it happened. While the alternative was tottering on
the balance, he was ordered back into Sicily, and in the headlong
haste of his obedience, never thought about me; whether it was
that he numbered me already among the death, or that great lords,
like great wits, have short memories.

My nurse gave me these particulars, and informed me that it was
she who had called in a physician and an apothecary, that I might
not die without professional honours. I fell into profound musing
at this fine story. Farewell my brilliant establishment in
Sicily! Farewell my budding hopes and blushing honours! When any
great misfortune shall have befallen you, says a certain pope,
look well to your own conduct, and you will find that there is
always some thing wrong at the bottom of it. With all reverent
submission to his holiness, I cannot help thinking myself in this
instance an exception to the infallibility of his maxim. How the
deuce was I to blame for being visited by a fever? There was more
reason for remorse in the monkey or his master than in me.

When I beheld the flattering chimeras with which my head was
filled, all vanishing into air, into thin air, the first thing
that worried my poor brain was my portmanteau, which I ordered to
be laid upon my bed to examine it. I groaned heavily on
discovering that it had been opened. Alas! my dear portmanteau,
exclaimed I, my only hope, consolation, and refuge! You have
been, to all appearance, a prisoner in an enemy's country. No,
no, Signor Gil Blas, said the old woman, make yourself easy on
that head; you have not fallen among thieves. Your baggage is as
immaculate as my honour.

I found the dress I had on at my first entrance into the count's
service; but it was in vain to look for that which my friend from
Messina had ordered for me as a member of the household. My
master had not thought fit to leave me in possession of it, or
else some one had made free with it. All my other little matters
were safe, and even a large leather purse with my coin in it,
which I counted over twice, not being able to believe at first
that there could be only fifty pistoles remaining out of two
hundred and sixty, which was the balance of the account before my
illness. What is the meaning of all this, my good lady? said I to
the nurse. Here is a leak in the vessel. No living soul but
myself has touched a farthing, answered the old woman, and I have
been as good an economist for you as possible. But illness is
very expensive; one must always have one's money in one's hand.
Here! added this excellent economist, taking a bundle of papers
out of her pocket, this is a statement of debtor and creditor, as
exact as a banker's book, and you will see that I have not laid
out the veriest trifle in need-nots.

I ran over the account with a hasty glance; for it extended to
fifteen or twenty pages. Mercy on us! The poulterers' shops must
have been exhausted, while I was in too weak a state to take
sustenance! There must have been at least twelve pistoles stewed
down into broths. Other articles were much to the same tune. It
was incredible what a sum had been lavished in firing, candles,
water, brooms, and innumerable articles of housekeeping and house
cleaning. After all, extortionate as the bill was, the utmost
ingenuity could not raise it above thirty pistoles, and
consequently there was a deficiency of a hundred and eighty to
make the account even. I just ventured to point that out; but the
old woman, with a shew of simplicity and candour, put all the
saints in the calendar into requisition to attest that there were
no more than eighty pistoles in the purse when the count's
steward gave her charge of the wallet. What say you, my good
woman, interrupted I with precipitation: was it the steward who
placed my effects in your hands? To be sure it was, answered she,
the very man, and with this piece of advice: Here, good mother,
when Gil Blas shall be numbered with the dead, do not fail to
treat him with a handsome funeral; there is in this wallet
wherewithal to defray the expenses.

Ah! most pestiferous Neapolitan! exelaimed I in the bitterness of
my heart. I am no longer at a loss to conjecture what is become
of the deficiency. You have swept it off as an indemnity for a
part of the plunder which I have prevented you from making free
with. After relieving my mind by exclamations, I returned thanks
to heaven that the scoundrel had been so modest as not to take
the whole. Yet whatever reason I had for believing the action to
be perfectly in character for the person to whom it was imputed,
the nurse had not altogether cleared herself from my suspicions.
They hovered sometimes over one and sometimes over the other; but
let them light where they would, it was all the same to me. I
said nothing about the matter to the old woman; not even so much
as to haggle about the items of her fine bill. I should not have
been an atom the richer for doing so; and we must all live by our
trades. The utmost of my malice was to pay her and send her
packing three days afterwards.

I am inclined to think that at her departure she gave the
apothecary notice of her quitting the premises, and having left
me sufficiently in possession of myself to take French leave
without acknowledging my obligations to him; for she had not been
gone many minutes before he came in puffing and blowing, with his
bill in his hand. There, under names which had escaped my
conscription, though as arrant a physician as the worst of them,
he had set down all the hypothetical remedies which he insisted
that I had taken during the time when I could take nothing. This
bill might truly be called the epitome of an apothecary's
conscience. Such being the case, we had a bustle about the
payment. I pleaded for an abatement of one-half. He swore that he
would not take a doit less than his just demand. He kept his oath
and yet relaxed; for considering that he had to do with a young
man who might run away from Madrid within four-and-twenty hours,
he preferred my offer of three hundred per cent, on the prime
cost of his drugs, though a pitiful profit for an apothecary, to
the risk of losing all. I counted out the money with an aching
heart, and he withdrew, chuckling over his revenge for the scurvy
trick I had played him on the day of evacuation.

The physician made his appearance next; for beasts of prey
inhabit the same latitudes. I fee'd him for his visits, which had
been quite as frequent as necessary, and his object was answered.
But he would not leave me without proving how hardly he had
earned his money, for that he had not only expelled the enemy
from the interior, but had defended the frontiers from the attack
of all the disorders on the army list of the materia medica. He
talked very learnedly, with good emphasis and discretion; so much
so, that I did not comprehend one word he said. When I had got
rid of him, I flattered myself that the destinies had now done
their worst. But I was mistaken; for there came a surgeon whose
face I had never seen in the whole course of my life. He accosted
me very politely, and congratulated me on the imminent danger I
had escaped; attributing the happy issue of my complaints to
those which he had himself cut, with the profuse application of
bleeding, cupping, blistering, and all sorts of torments,
consequent and inconsequent. Another feather out of my poor wing!
I was obliged to pay toll to the surgeon also. After so many
purgatives, my purse was brought to such a state of debility,
that it might be considered as dead and gone; a mere skeleton,
drained of all its vital juices.

My spirits began to flag, on the contemplation of my wretched
case. In the service of my two last masters I had wedded myself
to the pomps and vanities of this wicked world; and could no
longer, as heretofore, look poverty in the face with the
sternness of a cynic. It must be owned, however, that I was in
the wrong to give way to melancholy, after experiencing so often
that fortune had never cast me down, but for the purpose of
raising me up again; so that my pitiful plight at the present
moment, if rightly considered, was only to be hailed as the
harbinger of approaching prosperity.

 

 

 
 
 
 
 

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