Madrid shaver's adventures in the Spanish inquisition (1)
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The Madrid Shaver.
NICOLAS PEDROSA, a busy little being, who followed the trade of shaver, surgeon, and man-midwife in the town of Madrid, mounted his mule at the door of his shop in the Plazuella de los Affligidos, and pushed through the gate of San Bernardino, being called to a patient in a neighbouring village of Fonearral, upon a pressing occasion. Every body knows, that the ladies in Spain in certain cases, do not give long warning to practitioners of a certain description, and nobody knew it better than Nicolas, who was resolved not to lose an inch of his way, nor of his mule's best speed by the way, if cudgelling could beat it out of her. It was plain to Nicolas's conviction, as plain could be, that his road lay straight forward to the little convent in front; the mule was of opinion, that the turning on the left down the hill towards the Prade, was the road of all roads most familiar and agreeable to herself, and accordingly began to dispute the point of topography with Nicolas, by fixing her forefeet very resolutely in the ground, dipping her head at the same time between them, and launching her heels and crupper furiously into the air, in the way of argument. Little Pedrosa, who was armed at the heel with one massy silver spur, of stout though ancient workmanship, resolutely applied the rusty rowel to the shoulder of the beast, and at the same time, adroitly tucking his blue cap under his right arm, and flinging his skirt over his shoulder en cavalier, began to lay lustily about him with a stout ashen sapling, upon the ears, pole, and cheeks, of the recreant mule. The fire now flashed from a pair of Andalusian eyes, as black as charcoal, and not less inflammable, and taking the segara from his mouth, with which he had vainly hoped to have regaled his nostrils in a sharp winter’s evening by the way, raised such a thundering troop of angels, saints, and martyrs, from Saint Michael downwards,—not, however, forgetting his own namesake St. Nicolas de Tolentino, by the way, that if curses could have made the mule go, the dispute would have been soon ended ; but not a saint could make, her stir a bit any other ways than upwards and downwards at a stand. A small troop of mendicant friars were at this moment conducting the host to a thing man.—“ Nicolas Pedrosa,” said an old friar, “ be patient with your beast, and spare your blasphemies ; remember Balaam.”—“ Ah! father,” replied Pedrosa, “ Balaam cudgelled his beast till she spoke, so will I mine till she roars.”—“ Fie, fie, prophane fellow,” cries another of the fraternity. “ Go about your work, friend,” quoth Nicolas, “and let me go about mine; I warrant it is the more pressing of the two ; your patient is going out of the world, and mine is coming into it.” “ Hear him,” cries a third, “hear the vile wretch how he blasphemes the body of God.’ And then thr troop passed slowly on to the tinkling of the bell.
A man must know nothing of a mule’s ears, who does not know what a passion they have for the tinkling of a bell; and no sooner had the jingling chords vibrated in the sympathetic organs of Pedrosa’s beast, than bolting forward with a sudden, spring she ran roaring into the throng of friars, trampling on some, and shouldering others, at a prophane rate; when Nicolas availing himself of the impetus, and perhaps not able to control it, broke away, and was out of sight in a moment. ‘All the devils in hell blow fire into thy tail, thou beast of Babylon, muttered Nicolas to himself, as he scampered along, never once looking behind him, or stopping to apologize for the mischief he had done to the bare feet and shirtless ribs of the holy brotherhood.
Whether Nicolas saved his distance, as likewise if he did, whether it was a male or a female Castilian he ushered into the world, we shall not just now enquire, contented to await his return in the first of the morning, next day, when he had no sooner dismounted at his shop, and delivered his mule to a sturdy Arragonese wench, than Don Ignacia de Santos Aparicio, Alguazil-mayor of the supreme and general Inquisition, put an order into his hand, signed and sealed by the Inquisitor-general, for a conveyance of his body to the Casa, whose formidable door presents itself in the street adjoining to the square in which Nicolas’s brazen basin hung from, the emblem of his trade.
The poor little fellow, trembling in every joint, and with a face as yellow as saffron, dropt a knee to the alter which fronts the entrance, and crossed himself most devoutly : as soon as he had ascended the first flight of stairs, a porter habited in black opened the tremendous barricade, and Nicolas with horror, heard the grating of the heavy bolts that shut him in. He was led through passages and vaults, and melancholy cells, till he was delivered into the dungeon, where he was finally left to bis solitary meditations. Hapless being! what a scene of horror! Nicolas felt all the terrors of his condition, but being an Andalusian, and, like his countrymen, of a lively imagination, he began to turn over all the resources of his invention for some happy fetch, if any such might occur, for helping him out of the dismal limbo be was in : he had not long to seek for the cause of his misfortune; his adventure with the barefooted friars was a ready solution of all difficulties of that nature, had there been any; there was. however, another thing, which might have troubled a stouter heart than Nicolas’s———he was a Jew. This, of a certain, would have been a staggering item in a poor devil’s confession, but then it was a secret to all the world but Nicolas, and Nicolas’s conscience did not then urge him to reveal it. He now began to overhaul the inventory of his personals about him, and with some satisfaction counted three little medals of the blessed Virgin, two Agnus Deis, a Saint Nicolas de Tolentino, and a formidable string of beads, all pendant from his neck, and within his shirt; in his pockets he had a paper of dried figs, a small bundle of segars, a case of lancets, squirt and forceps, and two old razors in a leathern envelope: these he had delivered one by one to the algunzil, who first arrested him,—‘and let them make the most of them,” said he to himself, “ they can never prove an Israelite by a case of razors.” Upon a closer rummage, however, he discovered in a secret pocket, a letter, which the Alguazil had overlooked, and which his patient Donna Leonora de Casafonda had given him in charge to deliver as directed.—‘Well well,’cried he, ‘let it pass; there can be no mystery in this harmless scrawl; a letter of advice to some friend or relation; I’ll not break the seal; let the fathers read it, if they like, ’twill prove the truth of my deposition, and help out my excuse for the hurry of my errand, and the nnfortunate adventure of a damned refractory mule.’—And now no sooner had the recollections of the wayward mule crossed the brain of poor Nicolas Pedrosa, than he began to blast her at a furious rate. ‘The scratches and the scab to boot confound thy scurvy hide,' quoth he, ‘thou d—d ass-begotten bastard, whom Noah never let into his ark! The vengeance take thee, for an uncreated barren beast of promiscuous generation ! What devil’s crotchet got into thy capricious noddle, that thou shouldst fall in love with that Nazaritish bell, and run bellowing like Lucifer into the midst of those barefooted vermin, who are more malicious and more greedy than the locusts of Egypt? Oh, that I had the art of Simon Magnus to conjure thee into this dungeon in my stead,—but I warrant thou art chewing thy barley straw without any pity for thy wretched master, whom thy jade’s tricks have delivered over bodily to the tormentors, to be sport for these uncircumcised sons of Dagou.’ And now the cell door opened, when a savage figure entered, carrying a huge parcel of clanking fetters, with a collar of iron which he put firmly round the neck of poor Pedrosa, tellling him, with a truly diabolical grin, whilst he was rivetting it on, ‘that it was a proper cravat for the throat of a blasphemer.’—‘Jesus Maria! quoth Pedrosa, ‘is all this fallen upon me for only cudgelling a restive mule?” ‘Aye,’ exclaimed the demon, ‘and this is only a taste of what is to come,’ at the same time slipping the pincers from the screw he was forcing to the head, he caught a piece of flesh in the forceps, and wrenched it out of his cheek, laughing at poor Nicolas, whilst he roared out with pain, telling him that ‘it was a just reward for the torture he had put him to a while ago, when he tugged out a tooth till he broke it in his jaw.’ ‘Ah, for the love of heaven,’ cried the unfortunate Pedrosa, ‘have more pity on me; for the sake of Saint Nicolas de Tolentino, my holy patron, be not so unmerciful to a poor barber-surgeon; and I will shave your worship’s beard for nothing as long as I have life.’ One of the messengers of the auditory now came in and bade the scoundrel strike of the prisoner’s fetters, for that the holy fathers were in council, and demanded him for examination. ‘This is something extraordinary,’ quoth the the tormentor, ‘I should not have expected it this twelvemonth to come.’ Pedrosa’s fetters were instantly struck off; some brandy was applied to staunch the bleeding of his cheek; his hands and face were washed, and a short jacket of coarse ticking thrown over him; and the messenger, with an assistant, taking him each under an arm, led him into a spacious chamber, where at the head of a long table sat his excellency the Inquisidor-general, with six of his assessors, three on each side of the chair of state; the Alguazil-mayor, a secretary, and two notaries, with other officers of the holy council, were attending in their places.
The prisoner was placed behind a bar at the foot of the table, between the messengers who brought him in; and having made his obesiance to the awful presence, in the most supplicating manner, he was called upon, according to the usual form of question, by one of the junior judges, to declare his name, parentage, profession, age, place of abode, and to answer various interrogatories, of the like trifling nature: his Excellency the Inquisidor-general now opened his reverend lips, and in a solemn tone of voice, that penetrated to the heart of the poor trembling prisoner, interrogated him as follows:
Nicolas Pedrosa, we have listened to the account you give of yourself, your business, and connections : now tell us for what offence or offences. you are here standing a prisoner before us; examine your heart, and speak the truth from your conscience without prevarication or disguise.
May it please your excellency, replied Pedrosa, with all due submission to your hoiiness and this reverend assembly, my most equitable judges, I conceive I stand here before you for no worse a crime than that of cudgelling a refractory mule, an animal so restive in its nature, (under correction of your holiness be it spoken,) that although I were blessed with the forbearance of holy Job, (for like him too I am married, and my patience hath been exercised by a wife,) yet could I not forbear to smite my beast for her obstinacy, and the rather because I was summoned in the way of my profession, as I have already made known to your most merciful ears, upon a certain crying occasion, which would not admit of a moment’s delay.
Recollect yourself, Nicolas, said his Excellency the Inquisidor-general; was there nothing else you did, save smiting your beast?
I take Saint Nicolas de Tolentino to witness replied he, that I know of no other crime, for which I can be responsible at this righteous tribunal, save smiting my unruly beast. Take notice, brethren, exclaimed the Inquisidor, this unholy wretch holds trampling over friars to be no crime.
Pardon me, holy father, rep’ied Nicolas, I hold it for the worst of crimes, and therefore willingly surrender my refractory mule to be dealt with as you see fit; and if you impale her alive, it will be no more than she deserves.
Your wits are too nimble, Nicolas, cried the judge: have a care they do not run away with your discretion; recollect the blasphemies you uttered in the hearing of those pious people.
I humbly pray your Excellency, answered the prisoner, to recollect that anger is a short madness, and I hope allowances will be made by your holy council for words spoke in haste to a rebellious mule; the prophet Balaam was thrown off his guard by a simple ass, and what is an ass compared to a mule? If your Excellency had seen the lovely creature that was screaming in agony till I came to her relief, and how fine a boy I ushered into the world, which would have been lost but for my assistance, I am sure I should not be condemned for a few hasty words spoken in passion.
Sirrah! cried one of the puisne judges respect the decency of the court. Produce the contents of the fellow’s pockets before the court, said the president; lay them on the table.
Monster! resumed the aforeside puisne judge, taking up the forceps, what is the use of this diabolical machine? Please your reverence, replied Pedrosa, aplum est ad extrahendos fœttus'—Unnatural wretch, again exclaimed the judge, you have murdered the mothər.
The mother of God forbid! exclaimed Pedrosa. I believe I have a proof in my pocket that will acquit me of that charge, and so saying, he tendered the letter we have before made mention of. The secretary took it, and by command of the court read as follows :— “ Senior Don Manuel de Herrerra,
“ When this letter, which I send by Nicolas Pedrosa, shall reach your hands, you will know that I am safely delivered of a lovely boy, after a dangerous labour, in consideration of which I pray you to pay to the said Nicolas Pedrosa the sum of twenty gold pistoles, which sum his Excellency—”
Hold, cried the Inquisitor-general, starting hastily from his seat, and snatching away the letter, there is more in this than meets the eye: break up the court; I must take an examination of this prisoner in private.
As soon as the room was cleared, the Inquisitor-general, beckoning to the prisoner to follow him, and retired into a private closet, where, throwing himself carelessly into an arm chair, he turned a gracious countenance upon the poor affrighted aecoucheur, and bidding him sit down upon a low stool by his side, thus addressed him :— Take heart. Senior Pedrosa, your imprisonment is not likely to be very tedious, for I have a commission you must execute without loss of time: you have too much consideration for yourself to betray a trust, the violation of which must involve you in inevitable ruin, and can in no degree attaint my character, which is far enough beyond the reach of maliee; be attentive now, therefore, to my orders; exeeute them punctually and keep my secret as you tender your own life: dost thou know the name and eondition of the lady whom thou hast delivered? Nicolas assured him he did not, and his Excellency proceeded as follows: Then I tell thee, Nicolas, it is the illustrious Donna Leonora de Casafonda ; her husband is the president of Quito, and daily expected with the next arrivals from the South Seas: now, though measures have been taken for detaining him at the port, where he shall land, till he shall receive further orders, yet you must be sensible Donna Leonora’s situation is somewhat delieate; it will be your business to take the speediest measures for her recovery: but as it seems she has had a dangerous and painful labour, this may be a work of more time than could well be wished, unless some medicines more efficacious than common are administered; art thou acquainted with any such, friend Nicolas? —So please your Excellency, quoth Nicolas, my posesses have been tolerably successful; I have bandages and catapsalms, with oils and conservcs that I have no cause to complain of; they will restore nature to its proper state in all decent time.— Thou talkest like a fool, friend Nicolas, interrupting him, said the Inquisitor? What, tellest thou me of thy swathings and swaddlings? quick work must be wrought by quick medecine: hast thou none such in thy botica? I'll answer for it thou hast not; therefore, look you sirrah, hcre is a little vial compounded by a famous chemist; see that you mix it in the next apocem you administer to Donna Leonora; it is the most capital sedative in nature; give her the whole of it, and let hcr husband return when he will, depend upon it he will make no discoveries from her.— Humph! quoth Nicolas within himself, well said Inquisidor! He took the vial with all possible respect, and was not wanting in professions of the most inviolable fidelity and secrecy.—No more words friend Nicholas, quoth the Inquisidor, upon that score; I do not believe thee onc jot the more for all thy promises, my dependence is upon thy fears and not thy faith; I fancy thou hast seen enough of this place not to be willing to return to it once for all! Having so said he rang a bell, and ordered Nicolas to be forthwith liberated, bidding the messenger return his clothes instantly to him with all that belonged to him and having slipt a purse into his hand well filled with doubloons, he bade him begone about his business, and not see his face again till he had executed his demands.
Nicolas bolted out of the porch without taking leave of the altar, and never checked his speed till he found himself fairly housed under shelter of his own beloved brass bason.— Aha! quoth Nicolas, my lord Inquisidor, I see the king is not likely to gain one subject more by your intrigues; a pretty job you have set me about; and so, when I have put the poor lady to rest with your damned sedative, my tongue must be stopt next to prevent its blabbing: but I’ll shew you I was not born in Andalusia for nothing. Nicolas now opened a secret drawer, and took out of it a few pieces of money, which, in fact, was his whole stock of cash in the world; he loaded and primed his pistols, and carefully lodged them in the housers of his saddle; he then buckled to his side his trusty spada, and hastened to caparison his mule. Ah, thou imp of the old one, quoth he, as he entered the stable, art thou not ashamed to look me in the face? But come, hussy, thou owest me a good turn, methinks; stand by me this once, and be friend's for ever! thou art in good order, and if thou wilt put thy best foot foremost, like a faithful beast, thou shall not want for barley on the way. The bargain was soon struck between Nicolas and his mule, he mounted her in the happy moment, and pointing his course toward the bridge of Toledo, which proudly strides, with half a dozen lofty arches over a stream little more than three feet wade, he found himself as completely in a desart in half a mile’s riding, as if he had been dropped in the centre of Arabia Petræa. As Nicolas’s journey was not a tour of curiosity, he did not amuse himself with a peep at Toledo, or Talavera, or even Merida by the way; for the same reason he took a circumbendibus round the frontier town of Badajoz; and crossing a little brook, refreshed bis mule with the last good draught of Spanish water, and instantly congratulated himself upon entering on the territory of Portugal. Brava! quoth he, patting the neck of his mule, thou shalt have a supper this night of the best sive meat that Estramandura can furnish: we are now in a country where the scattered flock of Israel fold thick and fare well. He now began to chaunt the Song of Solomon, and gently ambled on in the joy of his heart.
When Nicolas at length reached the city of Lisbon, he hugged himself in his good fortune; still he recollected that the Inquisition had long arms, and he was yet in a place of no perfect security. Our adventurer had in early life acted as assistant-surgeon in a Spanish frigate bound to Buenos-Ayres, and been captured by a British man-of-war, and carried into Jamaica, had very quietly passed some years in that place as journeyman apothecary, in which time he had acquired a tolerable acquaintance with the English language. No sooner, then did he discover the British ensign flying on the poop of an English frigate then lying in the Tagus, than he eagerly caught the opportunity of paying a visit to the surgeon; and finding he was in want of a mate, offered himself, and was entered in that capacity for a cruise against the French and Spaniards, with whom Great Britain was then at war. In this secure asylum Nicolas enjoyed the first happy moments he had experienced for a long time past, and being a lively rood natured little fellow, and one that touched the guitar and sung sequidillas with a very good grace, he soon recommended himself to his ship-mates, and grew in favour with every body on board, from the captain to the cook’s mate.
When they were out upon their cruise, hovering on the Spanish coast it occurred to Nicolas, that the Inquisitor-general at Madrid had told him of the expected arrival of the President of Quito, and having imparted this to one of the lieutenants, he reported it to the captain; and as the intelligenee seemed of importanee, he availed himself of it, by hawling into the track of the homeward-bound galleons, and great was the joy, when at the break of the morning the man at the mast-head announced a square-rigged vessel in view. The ardour of a chase now sct all hands at work; and a few hours brought them near enough to discern that she was a Spanish frigate, and seemingly from a long voyage; little Pedrosa as alert as the rest, stript himself for his work, and repaired to his post in the cockpit, whilst the thunder of the guns reeled incessantly over his head ; three loud cheers from the whole crew at length announced the moment of victory, and a few more minutes aseertained the good news that the prize was a frigate richly laden from the South Seas with the Governor of Quito and his suite on board.
Pedrosa was now called upon dcck, and sent on board the prize as interpreter to the first lieutenant, who was to take possession of her.—He found every thing in confusion, a deck covered with the slain, and the whole crew in consternation at an event they were in no degree prepared for, not having received any intimation of a war. He fonnd the officers in general, and the passengers without exception, under the most horrid impressions of the English, expecting to be butchered without any mercy. Don Manuel de Casafonda, the governor, whose countenance bespoke a constitution far gone in a decline, had thrown himself on a sofa, in the last state of despair, and given way to an effusion of tears: when the lieutenant entered the cabin he arose trembling from his couch, and with the most supplicating action presented to him his sword, and with it a casket which he carried in his other hand : as he tendered these spoils to his conqueror, whether through his weakness or of his own will, he made a motion of bending his knee: the generous Briton, shocked at the unmanly overture, caught him suddenly with both hands, and turning round to Pedrosa, said aloud,—Convince this gentleman that he has fallen into the hands of an honourable enemy.—Is it possible! cried Don Manuel, and lifting up his streaming eyes to the countenance of the British officer, saw humanity, valour, and generous pity so strongly characterized in his youthful features, that the conviction was irresistable. Will he not accept my sword? cried the Spaniard. He desires you to wear it, till he has the honour of presenting you to his captain, Ah! then he has a captain, exclaimed, Don Manuel, his superior will be of another way of thinking; tell him this casket contains my jewels; they are valuable; let him present them as a lawful prize, which will enrich the captor; his superior will not hesitate to take them from me. If they are your excellency’s private property, replied Pedrosa, I am ordered to assure you, that if your ship were loaded with jewels, no British officer in the service of his king will take them at your hands; the ship and effects of his Catholie Majesty are the only prize of the captors; the personals of the passengers are inviolate.—Generous nation! exclaimed Don Mannel, how greatly have I wronged thee !—The boats of the British frigate now came alongside, and part of the crew were shifted out of the prize, taking their clothes and trunks along with them, in which they were very cordially assisted by their brave conquerors. The barge in a short time after came aboard with an officer in the stern sheets, and the crew in their white shirts and velvet caps, to escort the governor and the ship’s captain on board the frigate, which lay with her sails to the mast, awaiting their arrival: the accommodation-ladder was slung over the side, and manned for the prisoners, who were received on the gang-way by the second lieutenant, whilst perfect silence and the strictest diseipline reigned in the ship, where all were under the decks, and no inquisitive curious eyes were suffered to wound the feelings of the conquered even with a glance. In the door of his cabin stood the captain, who received them with that modest complaisance, which does not revolt the unfortunate by an overstrained politeness: he was a man of high birth and elegant menners, with a heart as benevolent as it was brave: such an address, set off with a person finely formed and perfectly engaging, could not fail to impress the prisoners with the most favourable ideas; and as Don Manuel spoke French fluently, lie could converse with the British Captain without the help of an interpreter: as he expressed an impatient desire of being admitted to his parole, that he might revisit his friends and connections, from whom he had been long separated, he was overjoyed to hear that the English ship would carry her prize into Lisbon; and that he would there be set on shore, and permitted to make the best of his way from thence to Madrid. He talked of his wife with all the ardour of the most impassioned lover, and apologized for his tears, by imputing them to the agony of his mind and infirmity of his health, under the dread of being longer separated from an object so dear to his heart, and on whom he doated with the fondest affection. The generous captain indulged him in these eonversations, and being a husband himself, knew how to allow for all the tendernesses of his sensations. Ah, brave Sir, cried Don Manuel, would to heaven it were in my power to have the honour of presenting my beloved Leonora to you on your landing at Lisbon.—Perhaps, added he, turning to Pedrosa, who at that moment en ered the cabin, this gentleman, whom I take to be a Spaniard, may have heard the name of Donna Leonora de Casafonda; if he has been at Madrid, it is possible he may have seen her; should that be the case he can testify to her external charms; I alone can witness to the exquisite perfections of her mind.— Senior Don Manuel, replied Pedrosa, I have seen Donna Leonora, and your Excellency is warranted iu all you can say in her praise; she is of incomparable beauty These words threw the uxorious Spaniard into raptures; his eyes sparkled with delight; the blood rushed into his emaciated cheeks, and every feature glowed with unutterable joy : he pressed Pedrosa with a variety of rapid enquiries, all of which he evaded by pleading ignorance, saying that he had only a casual glance of her as she passed along the Prado. The embarrassment, however, which accompanied these answers did not escape the Eng ish captain, who, shortly after, drawing Pedrosa aside into the surgeon’s cabin, was by him made acquainted with the melancholy situation of that unfortunate lady, and every particular of the story as before related; nay, the very vial was produced with its vile eontents, as put into the hands of Pedrosa by the Inquisitor.
Can there be such villainy in man? cried the British captain, when Pedrosa lied concluded his detail: alas! my heart bleeds for this unhappy husband; assuredly that monster has destroyed Leonora; as for thee, Pedrosa, whilst the British flag flies over your head, neither Spain, nor Portugal, nor Inquisitors, nor devils, shall annoy thee under its protection ; but if thou ever venturest over the side of this ship, and rashly settest thy foot upon Catholic soil, when we arrive at Lisbon, thou art a lost man. I were worse than a madman, replied Nicolas, should I attempt it.— Keep close in this asylum, then, resumed the captain, and fear nothing ; had it been our fate to have been captured by the Spaniard, what would have become of thee.— In the worse of extremities, replied Nicolas, I should have applied to the Inquisitor’s vial; but I confess I had no fears of that sort; a ship so commanded and so manned, is in little danger of being carried into a Spanish port,—I hope not, said the captain, and I promise thee, thou shall take thy chance in her as long as she is afloat under my command ; and if we live to conduct her to England, thou shall have thy proper share of prize-money, which, if the galleon breaks up according to her entries, will be something towards enabling thee to shift, and if thou art as diligent in thy calling, as I am persuaded thou wilt be,—whilst I live thou shall never want a seaman’s friend.— At these cheering words, little Nieolas threw himself at the feet of his generous preserver, and with streaming eyes, poured out his thanks from a heart which was animated with joy and gratitude. The captain raised him by the hand, and forbade him, as he prized his friendship, ever to address him in that posture any more; thank me, if you will, added he, but thank me as one man should another: let no knee bend, in this ship, but in adoration to God.—But now, continued he, let us turn our thoughts to the situation of our unhappy Casafonda: we are now drawing near Lisbon, where he will look to be liberated on his parole. By no means let him venture into Spain, said Pedrosa; I am well assured there are orders to arrest him in every port, or frontier town where he may present himself. I can well believe it, replied the captain ; his piteous case will require further deliberation; in the mean time, let nothing transpire on your part; and keep yourself out of his sight as carefully as you can.— This said, the captain left the cabin, and both parties repaired to their several occupations.
As soon as the frigate and her prize cast anchor in the Tagus, Don Manuel de Cassafonda impatiently reminded our captain of his promised parole. The painful moment was now come, when an explanation of some sort became unavoidable: the generous Englishman, with a countenance expressive of the tenderest pity, took the Spaniard’s hand in his, and seating him on a couch beside him, ordered the centinel to keep the cabin private, and delivered himself to the following effect:—
Senior Don Manuel, I must now impart to you an anxiety which I labour under on your account; I have strong reasons to suspect you have enemies in your own country, who are upon the watch to arrest you on your landing ; when I have told you this, I expect you will repose such trust in my honour, and the sincerity of my regard for you, as not to demand any further explanation of the particulars on which my intelligence is founded.—Heaven and earth! exclaimed the astonished Spaniard, who can be those enemies I have to fear, and what can I have done to deserve them! So far will 1 explain myself to you, answered the captain, as to point out the principal enemy to you, the Inquisitor-general. The best friend I have in Spain, exclaimed the Governor, my sworn protector, the patron of my fortune; he my enemy! impossible. Well, Sir, replied the captain, if my advice do not meet belief, I mast so far exert my authority for your sake, as to make this ship your prison, till I have waited on our Minister at Lisbon, and make the enquiries necessary for your safety ; suspend your judgment upon the seeming harshness of this measure till I return to you again': and, at the same time, rising from his seat, he gave orders for the barge; after leaving strict injunctions with the first lieutenant not to allow of the governor’s quitting the frigate, he put off for the shore.
The emissaries of the Inquisition having at last traced Pedrosa, our captain had no sooner turned into the porch of the hotel of Buenos-Ayres, than he was accosted by a messenger of state, with a requisition for the surrender of Pedrosa. As soon as this requisition was explained to our worthy captain, he dispatched the midshipman, to make the est of his way back to the frigate, and to deliver a letter to the lieutenant ; then turning to the messenger, lie said, That Spaniard is now borne on my books, and before you shall take him out of the service of my king, you must sink his ship. He instantly proceeded to the house of the British Minister: here he found Pedrosa’s intelligence, with regard to the Governor, expressly verified.
The generous captain lost no time in returning to his frigate, where he immediately imparted to Don Manuel the intelligence he had obtained at the British Minister's. The proposal was now suggested of sending letters into Spain, and the governor retired to his desk for the purpose of writing them. In the afternoon of the same day, the Minister paid a visit to the captain, and received a packet from the hands of Don Manuel, promised to get forwarded by a safe conveyance according to the direction.
In due course of time, this fatal letter from Leonora opened all the horrible transactions to the wretched husband:
“The guilty hand of an expiring wife, under the agonizing operation of a mortal poison, traces these few trembling lines to an injured, wretched husband. If thou hast any pity for my parting spirit, fly the ruin that awaits thee, and avoid this scene of villainy and horror. I have borne a child to the monster, whose poison runs in my veins. The Inquisitor is my murderer.— My pen fallls from my hand.—Farewell for ever.”
Had a shot passed through the heart of Don Manuel, it could not more effectually have stopt its motions than the perusal of this fatal writing: he dropped lifeless on the couch, and but for the care and assistance of the captain and Pedrosa, in that posture he had probably expired. Grief like his cannot be described by words, for to words it gave no utterance ; ’twas suffocating, silent woe.
Let us drop the curtain over this melancholy pause in our narration, and attend upon the mournful widower, now landed upon English ground, and conveyed by his humane and generous preserver to the house of a noble Earl, the father of our amiable captain. At the period of a few tranquilizing weeks, here passed in the bosom of humanity, letters came to hand from the British Ministers at Lisbon, in answer to a memorial, that I should have stated to have been drawn up by the friendly captain before his departure from that port. By these letters it appeared, that the criminal was either no longer in existence, or in a situation never to be heard of any more, till roused by the awakening trump, he should be summoned to his tremendous last account. As for the unhappy widower, it was fully signified to him, from authority, that his return to Spain, whether upon exehange or parole, would be no longer opposed ; nor had he any thing to apprehend on the part of government, when he should arrive there. The same was signified in fewer words to the exculpated Pedrosa.
Whether Don Manuel de Casafonda will, at a future period, avail himself of the overtures, time alone can prove: as for little Nicholas, whose prize-money has set him up in a comfortable little shop in Duke’s place, where he breathes the veins and cleanses the bowels of his Israelitish brethren, in a land of freedom and toleration. His merry heart is at rest, save only when, with fire in his eyes, and vengeance on his tongue, he anathematizes the Inquisition : and struts in the synagogue every Sabbath, with as bold a step and as erect a look, as if he was himself High Priest of the Temple, going to perform sacrifices upon the re-assembling of the scattered tribes.
This work was published before January 1, 1928, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.