Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

The 'squire of a sudden seeming to awake, Hast thou dined, young man ? quoth he.—Not I, sir, said I; you know I have been attending you ever since eight this morning.–For my part, (answered the 'squire) I had breakfasted before, and when I eat in the morning I never can touch a bit of victuals before night; and so thou must shift as well as thou canst till supper.

“ That cruel speech had almost thrown me into the falling-sickness; not so much for my present hunger, as in consideration of the greatness of my misfortune that made me always fall into such hands. All

my former miseries came fresh into my mind, and amongst other things, I did not forget the presentiments i had of doing worse, when I first entertained any thoughts of leaving the curate. However, dissembling as well as I could, You need not trouble yourself about that, sir, (said I,) for of the humour I am, thank God, eating and drinking goes but little to my heart.-Sobriety is a great virtue in a young man, interrupted the 'squire) and I shall have the better opinion of thee for it. 'Tis only fit for hogs to delight in filling their bellies, and not for men. I understand ye, thought I to myself: the devil, I think, is in all my masters, or else I can't imagine why they should endeavour to out-do each other in starving me.

“ After this dialogue was over, I drew to a corner of the yard, and began to eat some morsels of bread which had been given me that morning, which the 'squire observing, Come hither, boy, (said he,) what's that thou'rt eating? I went, and shewing him three pieces of bread, he took away the best. Upon my faith (quoth he) this bread seems to be very good.- 'Tis too stale and too hard, sir, (said I) to be good.- I swear 'tis very good, said the 'squire. Who gave it thee? Were their hands clean that baked it ?- I took it without asking any questions, sir, (answered I) and you see I eat it as freely.-Pray God it may be so, says the miserable squire : and so putting the bread to his mouth, he eat it with no less appetite than I did mine, adding at every mouthful, Gadzooks, this bread is excellent !

"Observing he went so heartily to work, I thought it convenient to make haste with mine, lest he should have had the civility to help me; and we were both so diligent that we ended our tasks much about a time. After which, gently shaking off the crumbs that stuck upon his clothes, he went into a little sort of a closet, from whence taking out an old earthen pitcher, when he had taken a hearty draught himself, he invited me to do the like. I soberly answered, that I did not care for drinking wine. That's very well, (said the 'squire) but this is water, and so thou may'st drink without any scruple. Then taking the pitcher, I put it to my head as if I had taken a hearty draught; but, God knows, it was not thirst that troubled me most.

“ He passed the remainder of that day in asking me questions, and I in answering them. The evening being come, calling me into the little closet, out of which he had brought the pitcher, Let us make my bed together (said the 'squire) that you may know how to make it alone another time.

“ His bed was composed of the anatomy of an old hamper, supported by two broom-sticks half rotten ; the sheets were instead of a mattrass, but confounded black and nasty, and there was but one old blanket: so that, when all the cloaths were on, you could have discerned through them the sticks of the 'squire's bed, as plainly as one may see an old dead horse's ribs.

“ When that was done, Lazarillo (quoth he) 'tis very late, and the market's a great way off; and besides that, you know that this town is full of cut purses. Let's do as well as we can; the night will soon be over, and to-morrow God will provide. Having formerly no servant, I was forced to eat abroad, but it shall not be so any more. Lord, sir, (said I) don't let that make you uneasy; sure I can shift one night without victuals, or a couple, if there was any occasion for it.So much the better for your health, (said the squire) for, as I was saying a while ago, you'll live the longer for it, there being nothing in the world so wholesome as eating little.-Hem! thought I, at that rate sure I shall never die! I have always lived very moderately, sir, (said I) and, by the grace of God, I shall always do so.

After that he went to bed, making a pillow of his breeches and his waistcoat, folded up together. I lay at his feet, but not a wink of sleep came in my eyes; the sticks in the bed and my sharp bones were continually quarrelling; I had not a pound of flesh on my body, which, by the hunger and other hardships I had suffered, was reduced to a perfect skeleton: and after all that, where is the man that could have slept with such an empty stomach ?

"I did nothing all the night over, (God forgive me! but curse my own destiny; and in the constraint under which I found myself, not so much as to stir, for fear of awaking my master with the noise of the sticks, I begged of God an hundred times to put an end at once to my misery and my life.

As soon as it was day, we both got up. The 'squire began brushing and cleaning his cloaths, which he afterwards put on at leisure; and at last coming to his sword, Here is a blade, Lazarillo, (quoth he) that I would not give for all the gold in Christendom; the finest steel is but like a bit of rusty iron in comparison with it. Look ye, (says he, pulling it out of the sheath, and drawing it through his fingers) I could cut a hair in the air with it. And I, thought I to myself, could make a confounded hole in a half-peck loaf with my teeth, though they be neither steel nor iron.

“ He put up his sword, and clapping it to his side, with a great string of beads about his neck, his cloak upon his left arm, and his right hand upon his side, a strait body, a stately gait, and a gallant look, away he went; and as he was going, Lazarillo (quoth he) take care of the house while I go to mass, and mean time make the bed and clean the room, and then go fetch our pitcher full of clean water, but take care to lock the door to keep out thieves; and, because I may perhaps come home before you, hang the key upon that nail through the cát-hole. Upon that he went out, and walked with such an air, that one that did not know him, would have taken him for the duke of Arcos, or at least for his first gentleman.

Well, blessed be God, (said I to myself, seeing him go out) who never sends a disease without a cure! Where is the man, who, seeing my master's pleasant countenance, would not fancy he had supped plentifully last night, had lain upon a down bed, and, early as it is, had drunk his chocolate very heartily this morning? and yet, good Lord, thou knowest, though the world believes quite otherwise, that there is no such thing. Who could think, to look upon his state and gravity, and his fine cloaths, that a 'squire of his appearance had passed the whole day with a crust of bread, which his most humble valet, Lazarillo, had carried in his pocket eight-and-forty hours, among all the rest of his luggage, where it could not be much refined ? That's beyond all imagination.

The next day, the 'squire leaves home to take his usual rounds. Lazarillo waits in vain for his return until two o'clock, till he is, at last, driven, in order to satisfy the yearning of an empty stomach, to walk forth and solicit the charity of welldisposed persons.

After this manner I went from door to door, demanding a morsel of bread, with my hands joined, my eyes looking up to heaven, and the names of all the saints in my mouth, and was always sure to stop at the houses of best appearance.

I had suck'd in all the niceties and secrets of my profession like my mother's milk, in the service of my blind master, and so effectually did I exert my faculties on that occasion, that before four o'clock, though the season was then very bad, and charity as cold, I had four pounds of good bread in my belly, and at least two pounds in my pockets. In my way home, going thro' the market, a butcher-woman gave me a piece of an ox foot and some boiled tripe. The poor 'squire was got home before me, and having already laid aside his cloak, was walking at a great rate in the yard. He made

up

to me when I came in, as I thought with a design to chide me for staying so long ; but God had made him of a more peaceable temper : his business was only to ask me where I had been. I told him, that having stood it out till two o'clock, and not seeing him come home, I had been to the city to recommend myself to the charity of well-disposed persons, who had given me the bread and tripe, which I then showed him; and though I could easily observe he was rejoiced at the sight, Poor boy, (quoth he) seeing thou wert so long a coming, I dined alone. Better beg in God's name than steal; only take care, for my honour, that nobody know thou art in my service, which 'tis very easy for thee to do, since I am so little known in this town, and wou'd to God I had never seen it.-Alas! sir, (said I) why should you trouble yourself about that? Nobody asks me such questions, and I have no occasion to talk to any body of it.-Well, poor Lazarillo, (quoth he) eat thy dinner. We shall be in a better condition, an't please God, in a little while; though, to tell the truth, this is a most unlucky house; nothing has prospered with me since I came to it; it must certainly be situated under some unhappy planet; there are several such houses, which communicate their unluckiness to those that dwell in them, of which doubtless this is one; but I promise thee, as soon as this month is out, I will bid adieu to it.

“ I sat down upon the end of the stone seat, and began to eat, that he might fancy I was fasting; and observed, without seeming to take notice, that his eye was fixed upon my skirt, which was all the plate and table that I had.

“May God pity me as I had compassion on that poor 'squire ; daily experience made me sensible of his trouble. I did not know whether I should invite him ; for since he had told me he had dined, I thought he would make a point of honour to refuse to eat: but, in short, being very desirous to supply his necessity, as I had done the day before, and which I was then much better in a condition to do, having already sufficiently stuffed my own guts, it was not long before an opportunity fairly offered itself; for he taking occasion to come near me in his walks, Lazarillo, quoth he, (as soon as he observed me begin to eat) I never saw any body eat so handsomely as thee; a body can scarce see thee fall to work without desiring to bear thee company; let their stomachs be ever so full, or their mouth ever so much out of taste. Faith, thought I to myself, with such an empty belly as yours, my own mouth would water at a great deal less.

“ But finding he was come where I wished him; Sir, (said I) good stuff makes a good workman. This is .admirable bread, and here's an ox foot so nicely drest, and so well seasoned, that any body would delight to taste of it.

“ How! cry'd the 'squire, interrupting me, an ox foot? Yes, sir, (said I) an ox foot. Ah! then, (quoth he) thou hast in my opinion the delicatest bit in Spain ; there being neither partridge, pheasant, nor any other thing, that I like near so well as that.

“Will you please to try, sir ? (said I) putting the ox foot in his hand, with two good morsels of bread; when you have tasted it, you will be convinced that 'tis a treat for a king, 'tis so well dressed and seasoned.

“Upon that, sitting down by my side, he began to eat, or rather to devour what I had given him, so that the bones could hardly escape. Oh, the excellent bit (did he cry) that this would be with a little garlick. Ha! thought I to myself, how lustily thou eatest it without sauce. Gad, (said the 'squire) I have eaten this as heartily as if I had not tasted a bit of victuals to day: which I did very easily believe. He then called for the pitcher with the water, which was full as I had brought it home; so you may guess whether he had eat any."

Our hero's master being one day in better humour than ordinary, because he had had a tolerable dinner, was pleased to give him the following account of his affairs.

“He told me, that he was of Old Castile, and that he had left his country only because he would not pull off his hat to a person of quality of his neighbourhood. But, sir, (quoth I) if he was your superior by birth and estate, as you seem to own he was, you might well enough have saluted him first, without any injury to yourself, since he did not fail to make you a civil return.

“ All that's true enough, answered the 'squire. He was a greater

66

and forced me to let myself be saluted first, by taking me by the hand when he saw me carrying it to my head to pull off my hat.

“ For my part, sir, (quoth I) I should not have minded things so nearly.

Yes, that's well enough for thee (interrupted he.) Thou art but young, and so a stranger to those sentiments of honour, in which the riches of those that now profess it do principally consist. But thou must know, that, a simple 'squire as I am, if I met a prince in the street, and he did not take off his hat to me right (I say, take it off right) gadzooks, on the first occasion I would find a way to go into some house, under pretence of business, or slip away into the next street before he came near me, that I might not be obliged to salute him. Look ye, (continued the 'squire) except God and the king, a gentleman is inferior to none, and ought not to yield an ace to any.

“ I remember (added he) I taught an officer good manners once, and had like to have caned him for saluting me with a God save you. Learn to speak as you ought, Mr. Scoundrel, (said I) and don't use me like such a clown as yourself, with your God save you! And after that, he never failed to salute me as far as he could see me, and to speak when he came near me as became him.

“Here I could not avoid interrupting him. What, sir, (said I) is it an offence to say, God save a man?

“What a foolish boy is this ! (answered the 'squire.) That's well enough for ordinary people; but for a man of my quality, the least that can be given is, your most humble servant, sir; or at least, your servant, if it be a gentleman that speaks to me: and you may see by that, whether it was fit for me to submit to the behaviour of my

noble neighbour, who, to tell you the truth, did likewise use to plague me, upon all occasions, with a God save you, sir! No, by St. Anthony, I'll never take a God save you at any body's hands but the king's, if they were to add, my lord, at the end of the compliment, to sweeten it."

The unhappy 'squire, required to pay his rent, is under the necessity of taking a sudden leave of 'man and house, under pretence of changing a double pistole ; and Lazarillo is once more without a master. A publisher of false indulgences, succeeds to his services, but Lazarillo soon quits him, and begins to rise in the world ; and the first part of the volume leaves him a very accommodating and contented husband.

This production, which was printed in 1586, is attributed to D. Diego Hurtado de Mendoza, who was not only a soldier, philosopher, historian, and statesman, but a poet; who, in his vernacular language, was second to none of his age. It is by some, also, ascribed to John de Ortega, a monk.*

The work being left incomplete by the author, a second part was added by H. de Luna, which is much inferior to the

* Vide Bibliot. Hisp. Nova, tom 1. p. 291,

VOL. II. PART I.

L

« AnteriorContinuar »