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“ You won't accuse me any more, I hope (cried I) of drinking your wine, after all the fine precautions you have taken to prevent it.— To that he said not a word; but feeling all about the pot, he at last unluckily discovered the hole, which cunningly dissembling at that time, he let me alone, till next day at dinner, not dreaming, God knows, of the old man's malicious intention, but getting in between his legs, according to my wonted custom, receiving into my mouth the distilling dew, and pleasing myself with the success of my own ingenuity, my eyes upward, but half shut, the furious tyrant, taking up the sweet but hard pot with both his hands, flung it down again with all his force upon my face; by the violence of which blow, imagining the house had fallen upon my head, I lay sprawling without any sentiment or judgement, my forehead, nose, and mouth, gushing out with blood, and the latter full of broken teeth and broken pieces of the can.
“ From that time forward I ever abominated the monstrous old churl, and in spite of all his flattering stories, could easily observe how my punishment tickled the old rogue's fancy.
“ He washed my sores with wine, and with a smile, what sayest thou (quoth he) Lazarillo: the thing that hurt thee, now restores thee. health? Courage, my boy S-But all his raillery could not make me change my mind."
For this castigation Lazarillo afterwards took an opportunity of amply revenging himself.—The blind man, greedy as he was in comparison with the priest, our hero's next master, was a prodigal. The whole stock of provisions, accessible to the unfortunate adventurer, was a rope of onions, of which he was allowed one every four days. The priest exercised his skill in arithmetic so rigidly in the store-room, that Lazarillo never exceeded the quartidian allowance with impunity. There were occasions, indeed, on which he contrived to lay in a good meal, and that happened whenever there was a funeral in the parish, so that it was his earnest prayer, morning and evening, that God would call unto his rest one of their parishioners, at least every day. And he proceeds
“When we went to carry the holy unction to any of the parishioners, the priest needed not bid me pray for the sick person; I was of my own accord sufficiently inclined to do that, earnestly desiring (not as the custom is, that he would dispose of them according to his holy will, but) that they might speedily be received into Paradise; and if, after that, it happened
that any body recovered (Lord pardon me for it!) I wished them at the Devil with all my heart; whereas I accompanied with a thousand benedictions the corpse of those who peaceably left the world, and by their departure entitled me to a lusty supper.”
There was an old antique chest, in which the priest carefully deposited the sacrament-bread for his own peculiar use. This he kept so fast locked up, and was so cunning withal, that La
zarillo with all his expedients could not for a long time circumvent a single morsel of it. At length, fortune smiled
“ But for all those reasons of policy, it was a damned hard matter for me to resist much longer the cruellest enemy of mankind, hunger. But not knowing how to better myself, while I was contriving some means for my evasion, one day the priest being out of doors, a tinker came to mend pots and kettles (if I may not rather call him an angel in disguise, sent by heaven to deliver me from all my misery and sorrow).
When he asked me, whether we had any thing to mend ? Alas! friend, (quoth I) if you could mend what's amiss with me, you should have work enough. But having no time to lose, master (quoth I) I have lost the key of yonder great trunk, and the priest will break my bones; for God's sake, see if, amongst all them you have got about you, there be never a one that will serve my turn! You would do me a great service, and I would pay you thankfully for it.
“ The compassionate tinker, without any more ado, began to try his keys, and when I was just past all hopes of succeeding (my most fervent prayers not being wanting) I was of a sudden overjoyed to see the curate's trunk fly open.
“ That sight was like the opening of heaven to me, when I set my eyes upon the loaves that were shut up in it. I told the tinker I had no money to give him, but that he might pay himself in bread; upon which he chose the best loaf he could see, and, leaving me the key, went away very contentedly, but not half so overjoyed as I.
“However, I meddled with nothing that night, being too much afraid the tinker's loaf might be missed; and besides that, when I had so great a treasure in my power, my hunger abated with my plenty, and I was persuaded it never durst assault me more. The priest came back in the evening, and, as good luck would have it, did not miss his loaf.
“ He was no sooner out of doors next morning, but away I went to the blessed chest, and seizing one of the holy loaves, it became invisible in less time than you could say two pater nosters; that done, I carefully locked the chest, and began sweeping the room with so light a heart, that I fancied, with my cunning invention, I should live very happily in time to come. This joy lasted all that day and the next, but my cursed stars thought that long enough for me to be easy at a time. The very third morning
after I had found out that noble invention, my devilish master began to search up and down his chest, and reckon his loaves over and over again. That cruel search put me in a panic fear, and I heartily recommended myself to God and all the saintsmo blessed St. John (quoth I), O sweet St. Anthony, confound his memory, or put out his eyes !
“ When he had spent three quarters of an hour in counting upon his fingers the number of the loaves, and the days on which they had been given, If this chest (said the miser) had been in any other place, I should have thought that some of my bread was stolen; but I shall take care to keep so strict an account in time to come, that I shall know better what to think. There's now nine and a broken one.
“ Nineteen millions of maledictions light upon your churlish head ! muttered I in my teeth, thinking I saw my heart's blood gushing out when I heard these words; for the prospect of the old diet, to which I was about to return, made me sensible of all the horrors of
future hunger before I felt it.
“ He went out soon after, and I as soon returned to the contemplation of the dear forbidden chest, and throwing myself upon my knees before the loaves, I counted them with my fingers' ends, in hopes the devilish priest might have mistaken the number; but this was to no purpose, there being nine loaves and a piece, and no more: all I could do was to kiss them one after another, and cut a little thin slice off that which was broke. This was all the assistance I could come at that day, and far short of what I could have dispensed with; for my stomach having been accustomed, for several days together, to a larger allowance than before, the hunger was the worse to bear, and therefore I did little else all the day long but open and shut the trunk, to feed at least my eyes upon my master's holy bread.
“ In this great exigency of my affairs, my happy genius suggested another thought to procure me some assistance, which, though but small, was better than nothing, and partly saved my life. The trunk was old, and shattered enough to make one believe the mice might get in to damnify the bread; and since I durst not take a whole one, I thought at least I might counterfeit a mouse without any danger.
Extremely pleased with this expedient, I began to crumb the bread upon an old napkin that was in the trunk, and when I had made holes in three or four, taking the crumbs in the hollow of my hand, I swallowed them like carraway comfits, and feasted myself as heartily as I durst venture.
“ When dinner-time came, the curate could not fail of discovering the misfortune that had happened to the bread, which, however, was so well counterfeited, that he did not question it had been visited by the rats. See here, Lazarillo, (quoth he) what a destruction has happened last night to my bread.-Lord! What's the matter, sir? quoth 1.-The matter! (answered the curate), What should the matter be, but the damned rats and mice, that would eat up the devil !
From thence we went to dinner, where, thank God, I had more than double profit; for besides that he gave me twice as much bread as he used to do, I had all the parings about the parts where he thought the mice had been. Never fear, Lazarillo (quoth he) but eat heartily; a mouse is a very cleanly creature. So that that day's portion was increased by the work of my own hands, or rather my own nails.
“We made an end of our dinner, if I may say an end of what I never had well begun. But it was a bloody mortification to me, to see the priest rifle all the walls of the house to get together a parcel of old nails, with the help of which, and some bits of boards, he patched up all the holes, and the very seams of the trunk. Good God (thought I to myself), how uncertain are the greatest pleasures of this laborious life ! To how many miseries, calamities, and misfortunes, are we subject! Alas! I thought I had found out a cure for my misfortune in some
measure; and now my cruel stars supply my master with proper means to break my heart. I can impute it to nothing else; and if my misfortune were not in the case, I am sure the priest is such a blockhead that he could never, of himself, be master of such inventions.
“ While I was employed in making these and the like reflections, the industrious carpenter was mending all the holes, and covering even the seams of the old chest; and when he had done, come now, if you dare, Mr. Rat (says the curate, all in a heat) I should desire no better sport! But I think you had better shift elsewhere, for you're like to have but an indifferent time on't here. “ He was no sooner out of the house, than I ran to the
old chest, but to my sorrow found he had not left a hole for a worm to creep through! I opened it, however, though without any hope of bet-tering myself. At last I spied the loaves my master had cut and pared, believing they had fallen under the fury of the rats, from whence I ventured to take some slices as thick as joiner's shavings.
“ That was such an inconsiderable supply to my hungry paunch, that day and night I thought of nothing else but finding out some means to ease my grief.-Hunger is the mother of invention, and sharpens the wit as much as gluttony drowns it.
“ One night, I was consulting with myself about the fittest method of renewing my assault upon the chest, without discovery. I found, by his audible snoring, that the priest was fast asleep: up I got, and with an old rusty oyster-knife I kept on purpose for that use, I easily made a passage, big enough for any rat, through a corner of the old, rotten, wormy chest, which I then opened without any noise, and making good large holes in the broken foaves, I swallowed the crumbs, and then ran to my couch to take a little rest, to which my
continual fasting had made me a very great stranger; but when I had got a good belly-full, all the king of France's dragoons could not have waked me.
“ Next morning the curate, seeing that new disorder, began to swear and storm, and heartily made a present to the Devil of all the rats and mice of Valencia. What a plague's the matter with them (quoth the angry man of God) that I must be tormented with that damned vermin, and that but of late too! And indeed he was in the right on't, for, upon my honour, there was not in all the province a family that might be better entitled to such an exception than my
churlish master's; for the rats are seldom observed to frequent an empty cupboard.
“ To work he fell, and quickly stopt the hole, and I did not fail next night to make another: and thus we went on so long, that the chest had as many pieces in it as a beggar's cloak.
“At last he began to consider he lost his time in patching such an old rotten piece of household stuff, which being so shattered that a small mouse might easily get through it, he thought, with a little more boring and mending, it would be quite undone. It was death to him to think of laying out three or four crowns for a new one, and therefore, to spare his chest, he was resolved to sacrifice his cruel persecutors, by the help of a mouse-trap which was lent him by one of our neighbours, amongst whom he likewise raised a contribution for crusts of cheese, &c. which putting into the trap, he set it in the trunk.
“ This was a fresh whet to my appetite, which was always sharp enough; but a bit of cheese was a thing that would have made me rob a church to come at it.”
His next project is also disconcerted—he is half-murdered and, scarcely able to walk, thrust out of doors. The portraiture of the Squire, his next master, is an admirable full length of a Spanish hidalgo, with no other inheritance than his name and a sword-of pride truckling to a neat's foot. Indeed, it is so complete and finished, that we shall give nearly the whole of it. Hogarth never struck off a more felicitous picture, and we think it partakes of his manner in some of his pieces. In other hands it would have been purely gloomy and miserable; but here the abstract wretchedness is so redeemed and relieved by the spirit of the author, that we fancy it a positive enjoyment.
“ Dost thou want a master, boy ?” said the Squire, a grave and stately person, “ Yes, sir," answered Lazarillo—“Then follow me, said the Squire, “and surely thou hast said some very efficacious prayer this morning, or art a particular favorite of heaven, since 'tis thy fortune to fall in my way." Lazarillo blessed his stars and followed.
“ By one o'clock we came to a house where the 'squire halted, and so did I ; he then pulled off his cloak, which throwing across his left arm, he pulled a key out of his pocket with his right hand, and opening the door, he went through a dark, narrow, ominous passage, into a little yard, from whence we went into a tolerable apartment. Being come in, he took off his cloak, and looking whether
hands were clean, and finding they were, we softly shook it, which folding up, he blew off the dust from a stone seat, and laying the cloak down there, sat upon it: after which, asking me a great many questions, of the place of my birth, of my past life, and how I came to Toledo, I gave him as short answers as I could, thinking the discourse a little unseasonable before dinner, and being more inclinable to lay the cloth and set the victuals upon the table, than to discourse of such frivolous matters.
“When I had answered all his questions, lying where it was convenient to give myself any good qualities, and passing slightly over those of the opposite side, he sat a while musing upon his cloak without speaking a word. I stood opposite to him, swallowing my spittle, with my hands in my hat, and looking wistfully on him, as one who would have said, when shall we go to dinner, sir? Two of the clock struck, but no news of any victuals; and he was as immoveable as if he had been stiff.
« On the other hand, the door so fast shut up, the profound silence, the bare walls, and the empty rooms, which, through the lower windows, I could see without beds, hangings, chairs, tables, or even such a poor rotten chest as the old priest's; all this looked very ominous, and made me fancy I was got into a wizard's den.