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public calamity; for we know that such calamities are always announced by prodigies.
Bergancio. For my part, what I heard an inhabitant of Alcala say, the other day, seems to me to be a much more terrifying omen.
Scipio. And what did he say?
Bergancio. He said that out of five thousand students, who are at the university, there were two thousand studying medicine. This, if you please, does indeed portend a public calamity. But, without troubling ourselves to inquire how and why we have acquired the faculty of speech, let us make use of it. I will tell you the history of my life; and to-morrow you shall tell me yours.
Scipio. Agreed; on condition, however, that if you grow tiresome I shall be allowed to tell you so, without your putting yourself into a passion.
Bergancio. Put myself into a passion with my friend, because he admonishes me of my faults! Surely you take me for a man! On the coutrary, I shall be very much obliged to you. I forewarn you that I am rather given to prating, and, consequently it will be your business to stop me in time.
I believe that I was born at Seville, in the house of a butcher, who early taught me to bark at beggars, to bite other dogs, and to lay hold of bulls by the ears. I did not at all like this sort of employment. When I was set upon a poor man, I went with reluctance, and when I bit the oxen, to make them go quicker to the slaughter-house, a something, I do not know what, always told me that I should be much better pleased to bite those who were going to kill them. I, therefore, soon left this house of murder, and set off into the country, where I fell in with a flock of sheep.
Delighted to have it in my power to consecrate my life to the defence of the weak against the strong, I approached one of the shepherds, bending down my head and wagging my tail. He stroked me, and examined my teeth; and, finding that I was young and of a good breed, he put on me a collar, armed with spikes; and so I became a shepherd's dog.
I was in raptures with my new situation. When I was quite young I had heard my first master read stories of a shepherd's life to a pretty girl of Seville, with whom he was in love. This master of mine, after having spent all the morning in killing sheep, came in the evening to read pastorals to his mistress. I well remember those charming histories of shepherds and shepherdesses who made the echoes resound with the dulcet notes of their bagpipes. I can recollect the unfortunate Amphrisus, who wandered about inscribing verses on the bark of all the beeches, the respectful Elicio, that worthy lover of Galatea, who sometimes neglected his own sheep and affairs, to look after those of others, the sorrows of Sireno, and the regrets of Diana, and the stories of many other shepherds and shepherdesses, who said the most amiable and tender things imaginable to each other, and al. ways fainted when they parted or met. What a happiness! thought I to myself, to be the companion of such faithful lovers, who, in meadows enamelled with flowers, under the shade of verdant groves, pass their lives in dying for shepherdesses who are as prudent as they are beautiful, and are more blooming than the field flowers with which they decorate their crooks.
Scipio. My dear friend, if, with your propensity to talking, you begin to treat me with pastorals, we shall run no risk of going too far, if we ask to possess the faculty of speech for a twelvemonth at least.
Bergancio. Alas! Scipio, it is any thing but pastoral that I have to relate to you. I thought I should have died of vexation, when I discovered that the real shepherds had no resemblance whatever to those whom I had heard of. Would you believe that, in all the country, there was not to be found a single Amaryllis, Diana, or Sylvia; no such thing as a Lausus, a Hyacinthus, or a Riselus? The ragamuffins ! they were all named Anthony, or Domenic, or Laurence! Instead of the fine contentions, which I had heard of, in music and poetry, all the contentions of my shepherds were carried on, with clenched fists. In short, I could find nothing which was at all like my pastorals, except that the wolves ate the sheep.
As to the sheep, however, I resolved at least to defend them to the utmost. Always on the watch, as soon as I heard the howl of the wolf, I set off upon the road which the shepherds pointed out to me. I traced the valley, the woods, the mountains, the high roads, without discovering the least track of the wolf, and when, next morning, I rejoined the flock, tired panting, and my feet torn by the thorns and flints, there was always some ewe dead, or some sheep half eaten up. The master of the flock came; the skin of the murdered sheep was handed to him, the shepherds were heartily scolded, but the poor dogs were cudgelled without mercy.
Tired of so much unmerited correction, and disgusted with seeing that all my care, my courage, and my vigilance, was thrown away, I determined to catch the wolf, if possible, without running after him. I hid myself near the sheepfold, and allowed my companions to go in pursuit; and, in a very short time, I perceived two of our shepherds, who, seizing upon one of the finest sheep, cut his throat, and then mangled it in such a manner, that you might have sworn you saw the marks of the wolf's teeth. The next day these scoundrels shewed the sheep to their master, after having taken the best part of it. O! how much I regretted that I could not speak! how angry I felt with those traitors! fine doings indeed! said I, when the protectors of the flock murder them, and shepherds turn out to be wolves !
Scipio. Ah, my friend, when one has read only pastorals, one is often rather astonished at what passes in the world.
Bergancio. I quitted instantly these cruel masters, and returned to Seville, where I entered into the service of a rich tradesman.
My new master had two sons, one about twelve years old, and the other fourteen, who studied Latin together at the Jesuits 'college. When they went to take their lessons they were always accompanied by several servants, to carry their books. If it was fine weather, they went on horseback; if it rained, they had a coach at their orders. This magnificence set me a reflecting when I compared it with the unostentatious appearance of their father, who went every morning to the Exchange, followed by a negro, and mounted on a paltry little mule.
Scipio. Such is the custom of rich tradesmen. They pretend to be humble themselves, but their vanity indemnifies itself by means of their children. They buy titles for them; they bring them up like noblemen; in short, they lavish their treasures to make them ridiculous, and to make them forget that they are their parents.
Bergancio. One day my master's children, as they were going to school, dropped one of their portfolios in the courtyard. As I had learned to fetch and carry,I laid hold of the porifolio by the strings, and, in spite of the efforts of a ser
vant to take it from me, I carried it to the sehool. There, without letting it go, I gravely entered the school-room, and, not at all put out of countenance by the bursts of laughter from the scholars, I sought out the eldest of my young masters, and respectfully put the portfolio into his hands. I then went back, and seated myself at the door of the school-room, and looking attentively in the face of the professor, I seemed to be much edified by what he was teaching.
My love of science diverted my young masters very much, and they every day made me carry the same portfolio to the school. As soon as I entered the room a thousand caresses were lavished upon me, and all the hats and caps were tossed into the air, that I might bring them to their owners. Some offered me eatables; others went in search of drink for me; and the youngest got a-horseback upon me. They sent out to buy every thing that they thought I should like; and, as I was fond of French rolls, all the accidences and dictionaries in the school were very soon pledged or sold to the baker.
This happy life did not last long. Authority, which is a reason that admits of no reply, soon tore me from my felicity. The heads of the school, perceiving that the scholars were more busied in playing with me than in making their translations, forbad my masters from bringing me any more with them. I was obliged, then, to return to watching the door at home, and, to complete my misfortune, I was compelled again to wear the chain from which I had been delivered. Ah, my dear Scipio! what a terrible thing it is to sink from the station which one has occupied ! The hardships which one has endured all one's life are almost nothing, habit has made them light; but when one has once tasted happiness, and is again plunged into misery, one cannot muster up fortitude to bear the change.
Scipio. You never let slip any opportunity of sermonizing.
Bergancio. You may thank your stars,' that, after having been so long at college, I am not a greater pedant and babbler than I am. But let me resume my history. It was impossible for me to endure my captivity. I fell sick, and was unchained, that I might walk about, and, almost as soon as I regained my freedom, I quitted the house, without bidding any body good bye.
I did not long remain without a master. I entered a splendid mansion, which I thought must belong to some rich nobleman..
Scipio. But how did you manage to obtain a situation so speedily? There is a world of difficulty in finding a person who will allow us to dedicate our time and our liberty to him.
Bergancio. My method was a sure and an easy one; patience and good temper! with these two virtues all obstacles may be removed out of the way, and we may win the love of those even who are most determined to injure us. When I had resolved to become an inmate of a house, I kept close to the door, and as soon as the master came out I went to him wagging my tail; I looked up in his face respectfully and affectionately; I licked the dust off his shoes; and if he ordered me to be beaten away, I bore the blows without growling, and came back to caress him. He that kisses the rod is never beaten twice. I was admitted, I shewed myself to be a zealous servant, and every body soon loved me...
It was in this manner that I won the good graces of one of the upper servants of the mansion which I have just mentioned to you. But my new residence was as melancholy as it was magnificent. Every soul was in mourning. The gentlemen ushers, the pages, the domestics were covered with crape from head to foot; the rooms were all hung with black; a profound silence reigned every where, and the mistress of the mansion, shut up in a gloomy chamber, never saw the light of day. :: Scipio. She had, I suppose lost her husband ?
Bergancio. Worse than that. I will tell you the story as it was related before me, by the gentleman usher whose patronage I had gained.
The beautiful Ruperta came from Mexico with her mother and immense riches. The mother of Ruperta died; her daughter, who was only eighteen, and whose heavenly beauty attracted the homage of numberless lovers, was left the mistress of several millions and of her liberty. Two Sevillan Cavaliers were very assiduous in paying court to her. The one, named Don Pedro de Gamboa, was a middle aged man, a widower, and the father of an only son, who was studying at Salamanca ; the other, Don Estevan, was young, amiable,