The Illustrious Scullery-maid
THE ILLUSTRIOUS SCULLERY-MAID.
In the famous city of Burgos there lived two wealthy cavaliers, one of whom was called Don Diego de Carriazo, and the other Don Juan de Avendaño. Don Diego had a son called after himself, and Don Juan another, whose name was Don Tomas de Avendaño. These two young gentlemen being the principal persons of the following tale, we shall for the sake of brevity call them Carriazo and Avendaño.
Carriazo might be about thirteen or little more, when, prompted by a scampish disposition, without having had any cause to complain of bad treatment at home, he ran away from his father's house, and cast himself upon the wide world. So much did he enjoy a life of unrestricted freedom, that amidst all the wants and discomforts attendant upon it, he never missed the plenty of his father's house. He neither tired of trudging on foot, nor cared for cold or heat. For him all seasons of the year were genial spring. His sleep was as sound on a heap of straw as on soft mattresses, and he made himself as snug in a hayloft as between two Holland sheets. In short, he made such way in the profession he had chosen, that he could have given lessons to the famous Guzman de Alfarache.
During the three years he absented himself from home, he learned to play at sheepshanks in Madrid, at rentoy in the public-houses of Toledo, and at presa y pinta in the barbacans of Seville. In spite of the sordid penury of his way of life, Carriazo showed himself a prince in his actions. It was easy to see by a thousand tokens that he came of gentle blood. His generosity gained him the esteem of all his comrades. He seldom was present at drinking bouts; and though he drank wine, it was in moderation, and he carried it well. He was not one of those unlucky drinkers, who whenever they exceed a little, show it immediately in their faces, which look as if they were painted with vermilion or red ochre. In short, the world beheld in Carriazo a virtuous, honourable, well-bred, rogue, of more than common ability. He passed through all the degrees of roguery till he graduated as a master in the tunny fisheries of Zahara, the chief school of the art. O kitchen-walloping rogues, fat and shining with grease; feigned cripples; cutpurses of Zocodober and of the Plaza of Madrid; sanctimonious patterers of prayers; Seville porters; bullies of the Hampa, and all the countless host comprised under the denomination of rogues! never presume to call yourself by that name if you have not gone through two courses, at least, in the academy of the tunny fisheries. There it is that you may see converging as it were in one grand focus, toil and idleness, filth and spruceness, sharp set hunger and lavish plenty, vice without disguise, incessant gambling, brawls and quarrels every hour in the day, murders every now and then, ribaldry and obscenity, singing, dancing, laughing, swearing, cheating, and thieving without end. There many a man of quality seeks for his truant son, nor seeks in vain; and the youth feels as acutely the pain of being torn from that life of licence as though he were going to meet his death. But this joyous life has its bitters as well as its sweets. No one can lie down to sleep securely in Zahara, but must always have the dread hanging over him of being carried off to Barbary at any moment. For this reason, they all withdraw at night into some fortified places on the coast, and place scouts and sentinels to watch whilst they sleep; but in spite of all precautions, it has sometimes happened that scouts, sentinels, rogues, overseers, boats, nets, and all the posse comitatus of the place have begun the night in Spain and have seen the dawn in Tetuan. No apprehensions of this kind, however, could deter Carriazo from spending three successive summers at the fisheries for his pastime; and such was his luck during his third season, that he won at cards about seven hundred reals, with which he resolved to buy himself good clothes, return to Burgos, and gladden the heart of his sorrowing mother.
He took a most affectionate leave of his many dear friends, assuring them that nothing but sickness or death should prevent his being with them in the following summer; for his heart was in Zahara, and to his eyes its parched sands were fresher than all the verdure of the Elysian fields. Ambling merrily along on shanks' mare, he arrived at Valladolid, where he stopped a fortnight to get rid of the mahogany hue of his complexion, and to change his rogue's costume for that of a gentleman. Having equipped himself properly, he had still a hundred reals left, which he spent on the hire of a mule and a servant, that he might make a good figure when he presented himself to his parents. They received him with the utmost joy, and all the friends and relations of the family came to congratulate them on the safe arrival of their son Don Diego de Carriazo. I had forgotten to mention that, during his peregrination, Don Diego had taken the name of Vidiales, and by that name alone he was known to his new acquaintances.
Among those who came to see the new arrival were Don Juan de Avendaño and his son Don Tomas, with the latter of whom, as they were both of the same age and neighbours, Carriazo contracted a very close friendship. Carriazo gave his parents a long and circumstantial account of all the fine things he had seen and done during the three years he had been from home, in all which there was not one word of truth; but he never so much as hinted at the tunny fisheries, though they were constantly in his thoughts, more especially as the time approached in which he had promised his friends he would return to them. He took no pleasure in the chase, with which his father sought often to divert him, nor in any of the convivial meetings of that hospitable city. All kinds of amusements wearied him, and the best enjoyments that could be offered to him were not to be compared, he thought, with those he had known at the tunny fisheries. His friend Avendaño, finding him often melancholy and musing, ventured to inquire after the cause, at the same time professing his readiness to assist his friend in any way that might be requisite, and to the utmost of his power, even at the cost of his blood. Carriazo felt that it would be wronging the great friendship subsisting between him and Avendaño if he concealed from the latter the cause of his present sadness; and therefore he described to him in detail the life he had led at Zahara, and declared that all his gloom arose from his strong desire to be there once more. So attractive was the picture he drew, that Avendaño, far from blaming his taste, expressed his entire sympathy with it. The end of the matter was that Avendaño determined to go off with Carriazo, and enjoy for one summer that delicious life of which he had just heard such a glowing description; and in this determination he was strongly encouraged to persist by Carriazo, who was glad to be so countenanced in his own low propensities. They set their wits to work to see how they could scrape together as much money as possible, and the best means that occurred to them was that suggested by Avendaño's approaching departure for Salamanca, where he had already studied for three years, and where his father wished him to complete his education, and take a degree in whatever faculty he pleased. Carriazo now made known to his father that he had a strong desire to go with Avendaño and study at Salamanca. Don Diego gladly fell in with his son's proposal; he talked with his friend Don Juan on the subject, and it was agreed between them that the two young men should reside together at Salamanca, and be sent thither well supplied with all requisites, and in a manner suitable to the sons of men of quality.
The time for their departure being arrived, they were furnished with money, and with a tutor who was more remarkable for integrity than for mother wit. Their fathers talked much and impressively to their sons about what they should do, and how they should govern themselves, in order that they might become fraught with virtue and knowledge, for that is the fruit which every student should aspire to reap from his labours and his vigils, especially such as are of good family. The sons were all humility and obedience; their mothers cried; both parents gave them their blessing, and away they went, mounted on their own mules, and attended by two servants of their respective households, besides the tutor, who had let his beard grow, to give him a more imposing air of gravity, as became his charge.
When they arrived at Valladolid, they told their tutor they should like to remain there a couple of days to see the city, having never been in it before. The tutor severely reprimanded them for entertaining any such idle notion, telling them they had no time to lose in silly diversions; that their business was to get as fast as possible to the place where they were to pursue their studies; that he should be doing extreme violence to his conscience if he allowed them to stop for one hour, not to speak of two days; that they should continue their journey forthwith, or, if not, then brown bread should be their portion.
Such was the extent of the ability in his office possessed by this tutor, or major-domo, as we should rather call him. The lads, who had already gathered in their harvest, since they had laid hands upon four hundred gold crowns which were in the major-domo's keeping, begged that he would let them remain in Valladolid for that day only, that they might see the grand aqueducts, which were then in course of construction, for the purpose of conveying the waters of Argales to that city. He consented at last, but with extreme reluctance, for he wished to avoid the expense of an additional day on the road, and to spend the night at Valdiastellas, whence he could easily reach Salamanca in two days. But the bay horse thinks one thing, and the man on his back another thing, and so it proved in the major-domo's case. The lads, mounted on two excellent mules, and attended by only one servant, rode out to see the fountain of Argales, famous for its antiquity and the abundance of its water. On their arrival there, Avendaño gave the servant a sealed paper, bidding him return forthwith to the city, and deliver it to his tutor, after which the servant was to wait for them at the Puerta del Campo. The servant did as he was bid, and went back to the city with the letter; and they, turning their mules' heads another way, slept that night in Mojados, and arrived two days afterwards in Madrid, where they sold their mules.
They dressed themselves like peasants in short jerkins, loose breeches, and gray stockings. An old clothes dealer, to whom they sold their handsome apparel in the morning, transformed them by night in such a manner that their own mothers would not have known them. Lightly equipped, as suited their purpose, and without swords, for they had sold them to the old clothes dealer, they took to the road to Toledo. There let us leave them for the present, stepping out briskly with merry hearts, while we return to the tutor, and see him open the letter delivered to him by the servant, which he read as follows:—
"Your worship, señor Pedro Alonso, will be pleased to have patience and go back to Burgos, where you will say to our parents that we, their sons, having with mature deliberation considered how much more arms befit cavaliers than do letters, have determined to exchange Salamanca for Brussels, and Spain for Flanders. We have got the four hundred crowns; the mules we intend to sell. The course we have chosen, which is so worthy of persons of our quality, and the length of the journey before us, are sufficient to excuse our fault, though a fault it will not be deemed by any one but a coward. Our departure takes place now; our return will be when it shall please God, to whose keeping, we, your humble pupils, heartily commend you. Given from the fountain of Argales, with one foot in the stirrup for Flanders.
Aghast at the contents of this letter, Pedro Alonso hurried to his valise, and found that the paper spoke but too truly, for the money was gone. Instantly mounting the remaining mule, he returned to Burgos to carry these tidings to his patrons, in order that they might take measures to recover possession of their sons' persons. But as to how he was received, the author of this tale says not a word, for the moment he has put Pedro Alonso into the saddle, he leaves him to give the following account of what occurred to Avendaño and Carriazo at the entrance of Illescas.
Just by the town gate they met two muleteers, Andalusians apparently, one of whom was coming from Seville, and the other going thither. Said the latter to the former, "If my masters were not so far ahead, I should like to stop a little longer to ask you a thousand things I want to know, for I am quite astonished at what you have told me about the conde's having hanged Alonzo Gines and Ribera without giving them leave to appeal."
"As I'm a sinner," replied the Sevillian, "the conde laid a trap for them, got them under his jurisdiction—for they were soldiers, and once having them in his gripe, the court of appeal could never get them out of it. I tell you what it is, friend, he has a devil within him, that same conde de Puñonrostro. Seville, and the whole country round it for ten leagues, is swept clear of swash-bucklers; not a thief ventures within his limits; they all fear him like fire. It is whispered, however, that he will soon give up his place as corregidor, for he is tired of being at loggerheads at every hand's turn with the señores of the court of appeal."
"May they live a thousand years!" exclaimed he who was going to Seville; "for they are the fathers of the miserable, and a refuge for the unfortunate. How many poor fellows must eat dirt, for no other reason than the anger of an arbitrary judge of a corregidor, either ill-informed or wrong-headed! Many eyes see more than two; the venom of injustice cannot so soon lay hold on many hearts as on one alone."
"You have turned preacher!" said he of Seville; "but I am afraid I can't stop to hear the end of your sermon. Don't put up to night at your usual place, but go to the Posada del Sevillano, for there you will see the prettiest scullery-wench I know. Marinilla at the Venta Tejada is a dishclout in comparison with her. I will only tell you that it is said the son of the corregidor is very sweet upon her. One of my masters gone on ahead there, swears, that on his way back to Andalusia, he will stop two months in Toledo, and in that same inn, only to have his fill of looking at her. I myself ventured once to give her a little bit of a squeeze, and all I got for it was a swinging box on the ear. She is as hard as a flint, as savage as a kestrel, and as touch-me-not as a nettle; but she has a face that does a body's eyes good to look at. She has the sun in one cheek, and the moon in the other; the one is made of roses and the other of carnations, and between them both are lilies and jessamine. I say no more, only see her for yourself, and you will see that all I have told you is nothing to what I might say of her beauty. I'd freely settle upon her those two silver gray mules of mine that you know, if they would let me have her for my wife; but I know they won't, for she is a morsel for an archbishop or a conde. Once more I say, go and see her; and so, good-bye to you, for I must be off."
The two muleteers went their several ways, leaving the two friends much struck by what they had overheard of the conversation, especially Avendaño, in whom the mere relation which the muleteer had given of the scullery-maid's beauty awoke an intense desire to see her. It had the same effect on Carriazo, but not to an equal degree, nor so as to extinguish his desire to reach his beloved tunny fisheries, from which he would not willingly be delayed to behold the pyramids of Egypt, or any or all of the other seven wonders of the world.
Repeating the dialogue between the muleteers, and mimicking their tones and gestures, served as pastime to beguile the way until they reached Toledo. Carriazo, who had been there before, led the way at once to the Posada del Sevillano; but they did not venture to ask for accommodation there, their dress and appearance not being such as would have gained them a ready welcome. Night was coming on, and though Carriazo importuned Avendaño to go with him in search of lodgings elsewhere, he could not prevail on him to quit the doors of the Sevillano, or cease from hanging about them, upon the chance that the celebrated scullery-maid might perhaps make her appearance. When it was pitch dark Carriazo was in despair, but still Avendaño stuck to the spot; and, at last, he went into the courtyard of the inn, under pretence of inquiring after some gentlemen of Burgos who were on their way to Seville. He had but just entered the courtyard, when a girl, who seemed to be about fifteen, and was dressed in working clothes, came out of one of the side doors with a lighted candle. Avendaño's eyes did not rest on the girl's dress, but on her face, which seemed to him such as a painter would give to the angels; and so overcome was he by her beauty, that he could only gaze at it in speechless admiration, without being able to say one word for himself.
"What may you please to want, brother?" said the girl. "Are you servant to one of the gentlemen in the house?"
"I am no one's servant but yours," replied Avendaño, trembling with emotion.
"Go to, brother," returned the girl disdainfully, "we who are servants ourselves have no need of others to wait on us;" and calling her master, she said, "Please to see, sir, what this lad wants."
The master came out, and, in reply to his question, Avendaño said that he was looking for some gentlemen of Burgos who were on their way to Seville. One of them was his master, and had sent him on before them to Alcalá de Henares upon business of importance, bidding him, when that was done, to proceed to Toledo, and wait for him at the Sevillano; and he believed that his master would arrive there that night or the following day at farthest.
So plausibly did Avendaño tell this fib that the landlord was quite taken in by it. "Very well, friend," said he, "you may stop here till your master comes."
"Many thanks, señor landlord," replied Avendaño; "and will your worship bid them give me a room for myself, and a comrade of mine who is outside? We have got money to pay for it, as well as another."
"Certainly," said the host, and turning to the girl he said, "Costanza, bid la Argüello take these two gallants to the corner room, and give them clean sheets."
"I will do so, señor," and curtsying to her master she went away, leaving Avendaño by her departure in a state of feeling like that of the tired wayfarer when the sun sets and he finds himself wrapt in cheerless darkness. He went, however, to give an account of what he had seen and done to Carriazo, who very soon perceived that his friend had been smitten in the heart; but he would not say a word about the matter then, until he should see whether there was a fair excuse for the hyperbolical praises with which Avendaño exalted the beauty of Costanza above the stars.
At last they went in doors, and la Argüello, the chamber maid, a woman of some five-and-forty years of age, showed them a room which was neither a gentleman's nor a servant's, but something between the two. On their asking for supper, la Argüello told them they did not provide meals in that inn; they only cooked and served up such food as the guests bought and fetched for themselves; but there were eating-houses in the neighbourhood, where they might without scruple of conscience go and sup as they pleased. The two friends took la Argüello's advice, and went to an eating-house, where Carriazo supped on what they set before him, and Avendaño on what he had brought with him, to wit, thoughts and fancies. Carriazo noticed that his friend ate little or nothing, and, by way of sounding him, he said on their way back to the inn, "We must be up betimes to-morrow morning, so that we may reach Orgez before the heat of the day."
"I am not disposed for that," replied Avendaño, "for I intend, before I leave this city, to see all that is worth seeing in it, such as the cathedral, the waterworks of Juanelo, the view from the top of St. Augustine's, the King's garden, and the promenade by the river."
"Very well, we can see all that in two days."
"What need of such haste? We are not posting to Rome to ask for a vacant benefice."
"Ha! ha! friend, I see how it is, I'll be hanged if you are not more inclined to stay in Toledo than to continue our journey."
"That's true, I confess; it is as impossible for me to forego the sight of that girl's face, as it is to get into heaven without good works."
"Gallantly spoken, and as becomes a generous breast like yours! Here's a pretty story! Don Tomas de Avendaño, son of the wealthy and noble cavalier, Don Juan de Avendaño, over head and ears in love with the scullery-maid at the Posada del Sevillano!"
"It strikes me, I may answer you in the same strain. Here's Don Diego de Carriazo, son and sole heir of the noble knight of Alcántara of the same name, a youth finely gifted alike in body and mind, and behold him in love—with whom, do you suppose? With queen Ginevra? No such thing, but with the tunny fisheries of Zahara, and all its rogues and rascals,—a more loathsome crew, I suspect, than ever beset St. Anthony in his temptations."
"You have given me tit for tat, friend, and slain me with my own weapon. Let us say no more now, but go to bed, and to-morrow who knows but we come to our senses?"
"Look ye, Carriazo, you have not yet seen Costanza; when you have seen her, I will give you leave to say what you like to me."
"Well, I know beforehand what will be the upshot of the matter."
"And that is?"
"That I shall be off to my tunny fisheries, and you will remain with your scullery-maid."
"I shall not be so happy."
"Nor I such a fool as to give up my own good purpose for the sake of your bad one."
By this time they reached the inn, where the conversation was prolonged in the same tone, half the night long. After they had slept, as it seemed to them, little more than an hour, they were awakened by the loud sound of clarions in the street. They sat up in bed, and after they had listened awhile, "I'll lay a wager," said Carriazo, "that it is already day, and that there is some feast or other in the convent of Nostra Señora del Carmen, in this neighbourhood, and that is why the clarions are pealing."
"That can't be," said Avendaño; "we have not been long asleep. It must be some time yet till dawn."
While they were talking, some one knocked at the door, and called out, "Young men, if you want to hear some fine music, go to the window of the next room, which looks on the street; it is not occupied."
They got up and opened the door, but the person who had spoken was gone. The music still continuing, however, they went in their shirts, just as they were, into the front room, where they found three or four other lodgers, who made place for them at the window; and soon afterwards an excellent voice sang a sonnet to the accompaniment of the harp. There was no need of any one to tell Carriazo and Avendaño that this music was intended for Costanza, for this was very clear from the words of the sonnet, which grated so horribly on Avendaño's ears, that he could have wished himself deaf rather than have heard it. The pangs of jealousy laid hold on him, and the worst of all was, that he knew not who was his rival. But this was soon made known to him when one of the persons at the window exclaimed, "What a simpleton is the corregidor's son, to make a practice of serenading a scullery-maid. It is true, she is one of the most beautiful girls I have ever seen, and I have seen a great many; but that is no reason why he should court her so publicly."
"After all," said another, "I have been told for certain that she makes no more account of him than if he never existed. I warrant she is this moment fast asleep behind her mistress's bed, without ever thinking of all this music."
"I can well believe it," said the first speaker, "for she is the most virtuous girl I know; and it is marvellous that though she lives in a house like this, where there is so much traffic, and where there are new comers every day, and though she goes about all the rooms, not the least thing in the world is known to her disparagement."
Avendaño began to breathe more freely after hearing this, and was able to listen to many fine things which were sung to the accompaniment of various instruments, all being addressed to Costanza, who, as the stranger said, was fast asleep all the while.
The musicians departed at the approach of dawn. Avendaño and Carriazo returned to their room, where one of them slept till morning. They then rose, both of them eager to see Costanza, but the one only from curiosity, the other from love. Both were gratified; for Costanza came out of her master's room looking so lovely, that they both felt that all the praises bestowed on her by the muleteer, fell immeasurably short of her deserts. She was dressed in a green bodice and petticoat, trimmed with the same colour. A collar embroidered with black silk set off the alabaster whiteness of her neck. The thick tresses of her bright chestnut hair were bound up with white ribbon; she had pendents in her ears which seemed to be pearls, but were only glass; her girdle was a St. Francis cord, and a large bunch of keys hung at her side. When she came out of the room she crossed herself, and made a profound reverence with great devotion to an image of our Lady, that hung on one of the walls of the quadrangle. Then looking up and seeing the two young men intently gazing on her, she immediately retired again into the room, and called thence to Argüello to get up.
Carriazo, it must be owned, was much struck by Costanza's beauty; he admired it as much as his companion, only he did not fall in love with her; on the contrary, he had no desire to spend another night in the inn, but to set out at once for the fisheries.
La Argüello presently appeared in the gallery with two young women, natives of Gallicia, who were also servants in the inn; for the number employed in the Sevillano was considerable, that being one of the best and most frequented houses of its kind in Toledo. At the same time the servants of the persons lodging in the inn began to assemble to receive oats for their masters' beasts; and the host dealt them out, all the while grumbling and swearing at his maid-servants who had been the cause of his losing the services of a capital hostler, who did the work so well and kept such good reckoning, that he did not think he had ever lost the price of a grain of oats by him. Avendaño, who heard all this, seized the opportunity at once. "Don't fatigue yourself, señor host," he said; "give me the account-book, and whilst I remain here I will give out the oats, and keep such an exact account of it that you will not miss the hostler who you say has left you."
"Truly I thank you for the offer, my lad," said the host, "for I have no time to attend to this business; I have too much to do, both indoors and out of doors. Come down and I will give you the book; and mind ye, these muleteers are the very devil, and will do you out of a peck of oats under your very nose, with no more conscience than if it was so much chaff."
Avendaño went down to the quadrangle, took the book, and began to serve out pecks of oats like water, and to note them down with such exactness that the landlord, who stood watching him, was greatly pleased with his performance. "I wish to God," he said, "your master would not come, and that you would make up your mind to stop with me; you would lose nothing by the change, believe me. The hostler who has just quitted me came here eight months ago all in tatters, and as lean as a shotten herring, and now he has two very good suits of clothes, and is as fat as a dormouse; for you must know, my son, that in this house there are excellent vails to be got over and above the wages."
"If I should stop," replied Avendaño, "I should not stand out much for the matter of what I should gain, but should be content with very little for sake of being in this city, which, they tell me, is the best in Spain."
"At least it is one of the best and most plentiful," said the host. "But we are in want of another thing, too, and that is a man to fetch water, for the lad that used to attend to that job has also left me. He was a smart fellow, and with the help of a famous ass of mine he used to keep all the tanks overflowing, and make a lake of the house. One of the reasons why the muleteers like to bring their employers to my house is, that they always find plenty of water in it for their beasts, instead of having to drive them down to the river."
Carriazo, who had been listening to this dialogue, and who saw Avendaño already installed in office, thought he would follow his example, well knowing how much it would gratify him. "Out with the ass, señor host," he said; "I'm your man, and will do your work as much to your satisfaction as my comrade."
"Aye, indeed," said Avendaño, "my comrade, Lope Asturiano will fetch water like a prince, I'll go bail for him."
La Argüello, who had been all the while within earshot, here put in her word. "And pray, my gentleman," said she to Avendaño, "who is to go bail for you? By my faith, you look to me as if you wanted some one to answer for you instead of your answering for another."
"Hold your tongue, Argüello," said her master; "don't put yourself forward where you're not wanted. I'll go bail for them, both of them. And mind, I tell you, that none of you women meddle or make with the men-servants, for it is through you they all leave me."
"So these two chaps are engaged, are they?" said another of the servant-women; "by my soul, if I had to keep them company I would never trust them with the wine-bag."
"None of your gibes, señora Gallega," cried her master; "do your work, and don't meddle with the men-servants, or I'll baste you with a stick."
"Oh, to be sure!" replied the Gallician damsel; "a'nt they dainty dears to make a body's mouth water? I'm sure master has never known me so frolicksome with the chaps in the house, nor yet out of it, that he should have such an opinion of me. The blackguards go away when they take it into their heads, without our giving them any occasion. Very like indeed they're the right sort to be in need of any one's putting them to bidding their masters an early good morning, when they least expect it."
"You've a deal to say for yourself, my friend," said the landlord; "shut your mouth and mind your business."
While this colloquy was going on Carriazo had harnessed the ass, jumped on his back, and set off to the river, leaving Avendaño highly delighted at witnessing his jovial resolution.
Here then, we have Avendaño and Carriazo changed, God save the mark! into Tomas Pedro, a hostler, and Lope Asturiano, a water-carrier: transformations surpassing those of the long-nosed poet. No sooner had la Argüello heard that they were hired, than she formed a design upon Asturiano, and marked him for her own, resolving to regale him in such a manner, that, if he was ever so shy, she would make him as pliant as a glove. The prudish Gallegan formed a similar design upon Avendaño, and, as the two women were great friends, being much together in their business by day, and bed-fellows at night, they at once confided their amorous purposes to each other; and that night they determined to begin the conquest of their two unimpassioned swains. Moreover they agreed that they must, in the first place, beg them not to be jealous about anything they might see them do with their persons; for girls could hardly regale their friends within doors, unless they put those without under contribution. "Hold your tongues, lads," said they, apostrophising their absent lovers, "hold your tongues and shut your eyes; leave the timbrel in the hands that can play it, and let those lead the dance that know how, and no pair of canons in this city will be better regaled than you will be by our two selves."
While the Gallegan and la Argüello were settling matters in this way, our good friend, Lope Asturiano, was on his way to the river, musing upon his beloved tunny fisheries and on his sudden change of condition. Whether it was for this reason, or that fate ordained it so, it happened that as he was riding down a steep and narrow lane, he ran against another water-carrier's ass, which was coming, laden, up-hill; and, as his own was fresh and lively and in good condition, the poor, half-starved, jaded brute that was toiling up hill, was knocked down, the pitchers were broken, and the water spilled. The driver of the fallen ass, enraged by this disaster, immediately flew upon the offender, and pommelled him soundly before poor Lope well knew where he was. At last, his senses were roused with a vengeance, and seizing his antagonist with both hands by the throat, he dashed him to the ground. That was not all, for, unluckily, the man's head struck violently against a stone; the wound was frightful, and bled so profusely, that Lope thought he had killed him. Several other water-carriers who were on their way to and from the river, seeing their comrade so maltreated, seized Lope and held him fast, shouting, "Justice! justice! this water-carrier has murdered a man." And all the while they beat and thumped him lustily. Others ran to the fallen man, and found that his skull was cracked, and that he was almost at the last gasp. The outcry spread all up the hill, and to the Plaza del Carmen, where it reached the ears of an alguazil, who flew to the spot with two police-runners. They did not arrive a moment too soon, for they found Lope surrounded by more than a score of water-carriers, who were basting his ribs at such a rate that there was almost as much reason to fear for his life as that of the wounded man. The alguazil took him out of their hands, delivered him and his ass into those of his followers, had the wounded man laid like a sack upon his own ass, and marched them all off to prison attended by such a crowd that they could hardly make way through the streets. The noise drew Tomas Pedro and his master to the door, and, to their great surprise, they saw Asturiano led by in the gripe of two police-runners, with his face all bloody. The landlord immediately looked about for his ass, and saw it in the hands of another catchpoll, who had joined the alguazil's party. He inquired the cause of these captures, was told what had happened, and was sorely distressed on account of his ass, fearing that he should lose it, or have to pay more for it than it was worth.
Tomas followed his comrade, but could not speak a single word to him, such was the throng round the prisoner, and the strictness of the catchpolls. Lope was thrust into a narrow cell in the prison, with a doubly grated window, and the wounded man was taken to the infirmary, where the surgeon pronounced his case extremely dangerous.
The alguazil took home the two asses with him, besides five pieces of eight which had been found on Lope. Tomas returned greatly disconcerted to the inn, where he found the landlord in no better spirits than himself, and gave him an account of the condition in which he had left his comrade, the danger of the wounded man, and the fate of the ass. "To add to the misfortune," said he, "I have just met a gentleman of Burgos, who tells me that my master will not now come this way. In order to make more speed and shorten his journey by two leagues, he has crossed the ferry at Aceca; he will sleep to-night at Orgaz, and has sent me twelve crowns, with orders to meet him at Seville. But that cannot be, for it is not in reason that I should leave my friend and comrade in prison and in such peril. My master must excuse me for the present, and I know he will, for he is so good-natured that he will put up with a little inconvenience rather than that I should forsake my comrade. Will you do me the favour, señor, to take this money, and see what you can do in this business. While you are spending this, I will write to my master for more, telling him all that has happened, and I am sure he will send us enough to get us out of any scrape."
The host opened his eyes a palm wide in glad surprise to find himself indemnified for the loss of his ass. He took the money and comforted Tomas, telling him that he could make interest with persons of great influence in Toledo, especially a nun, a relation of the corregidor's, who could do anything she pleased with him. Now the washerwoman of the convent in which the nun lived had a daughter, who was very thick indeed with the sister of a friar, who was hand and glove with the said nun's confessor. All he had to do, then, was to get the washerwoman to ask her daughter to get the monk's sister to speak to her brother to say a good word to the confessor, who would prevail on the nun to write a note to the corregidor begging him to look into Lope's business, and then, beyond a doubt, they might expect to come off with flying colours; that is provided the water-carrier did not die of his wound, and provided also there was no lack of stuff to grease the palms of all the officers of justice, for unless they are well greased they creak worse than the wheels of a bullock cart.
Whatever Tomas thought of this roundabout way of making interest, he failed not to thank the innkeeper, and to assure him that he was confident his master would readily send the requisite money.
Argüello, who had seen her new flame in the hands of the officers, ran directly to the prison with some dinner for him; but she was not permitted to see him. This was a great grief to her, but she did not lose her hopes for all that. After the lapse of a fortnight the wounded man was out of danger, and in a week more, the surgeon pronounced him cured. During this time, Tomas Pedro pretended to have had fifty crowns sent to him from Seville, and taking them out of his pocket, he presented them to the innkeeper, along with a fictitious letter from his master. It was nothing to the landlord whether the letter was genuine or not, so he gave himself no trouble to authenticate it; but he received the fifty good gold crowns with great glee. The end of the matter was, that the wounded man was quieted with six ducats, and Asturiano was sentenced to the forfeiture of his ass, and a fine of ten ducats with costs, on the payment of which he was liberated.
On his release from prison, Asturiano had no mind to go back to the Sevillano, but excused himself to his comrade on the ground that during his confinement he had been visited by Argüello, who had pestered him with her fulsome advances, which were to him so sickening and insufferable, that he would rather be hanged than comply with the desires of so odious a jade. His intention was to buy an ass, and to do business as a water carrier on his own account as long as they remained in Toledo. This would protect him from the risk of being arrested as a vagabond; besides, it was a business he could carry on with great ease and satisfaction to himself, since with only one load of water, he could saunter about the city all day long, looking at silly wenches.
"Looking at beautiful women, you mean," said his friend, "for of all the cities in Spain, Toledo has the reputation of being that in which the women surpass all others, whether in beauty or conduct. If you doubt it, only look at Costanza, who could spare from her superfluity of loveliness charms enough to beautify the rest of the women, not only of Toledo, but of the whole world."
"Gently, señor Tomas; not so fast with your praises of the señora scullion, unless you wish that, besides thinking you a fool, I take you for a heretic into the bargain."
"Do you call Costanza a scullion, brother Lope? God forgive you, and bring you to a true sense of your error."
"And is not she a scullion?"
"I have yet to see her wash the first plate."
"What does that matter, if you have seen her wash the second, or the fiftieth?"
"I tell you brother she does not wash dishes, or do anything but look after the business of the house, and take care of the plate, of which there is a great deal."
"How is it, then, that throughout the whole city they call her the illustrious scullery-maid, if so be she does not wash dishes? Perhaps it is because she washes silver and not crockery that they give her that name. But to drop this subject, tell me, Tomas, how stand your hopes?"
"In a state of perdition; for during the whole time you were in gaol, I never have been able to say one word to her. It is true, that to all that is said to her by the guests in the house, she makes no other reply than to cast down her eyes and keep her lips closed; such is her virtue and modesty; so that her modesty excites my love, no less than her beauty. But it is almost too much for my patience, to think that the corregidor's son, who is an impetuous and somewhat licentious youth, is dying for her; a night seldom passes but he serenades her, and that so openly, that she is actually named in the songs sung in her praise. She never hears them to be sure, nor ever quits her mistress's room from the time she retires until morning; but in spite of all that, my heart cannot escape being pierced by the keen shaft of jealousy."
"What do you intend to do, then, with this Portia, this Minerva, this new Penelope, who, under the form of a scullery-maid, has vanquished your heart?"
"Her name is Costanza, not Portia, Minerva, or Penelope. That she is a servant in an inn, I cannot deny; but what can I do, if, as it seems, the occult force of destiny, and the deliberate choice of reason, both impel me to adore her? Look you, friend, I cannot find words to tell you how love exalts and glorifies in my eyes this humble scullery-maid, as you call her, so that, though seeing her low condition, I am blind to it, and knowing it, I ignore it. Try as I may, it is impossible for me to keep it long before my eyes; for that thought is at once obliterated by her beauty, her grace, her virtue, and modesty, which tell me that, beneath that plebeian husk, must be concealed some kernel of extraordinary worth. In short, be it what it may, I love her, and not with that common-place love I have felt for others, but with a passion so pure that it knows no wish beyond that of serving her, and prevailing on her to love me, and return in the like kind what is due to my honourable affection."
Here Lope gave a shout, and cried out in a declamatory tone, "O Platonic love! O illustrious scullery-maid! O thrice-blessed age of ours, wherein we see love renewing the marvels of the age of gold! O my poor tunnies, you must pass this year without a visit from your impassioned admirer, but next year be sure I will make amends, and you shall no longer find me a truant."
"I see, Asturiano," said Tomas, "how openly you mock me. Why don't you go to your fisheries? There is nothing to hinder you. I will remain where I am, and you will find me here on your return. If you wish to take your share of the money with you, take it at once; go your ways in peace, and let each of us follow the course prescribed to him by his own destiny."
"I thought you had more sense," said Lope. "Don't you know that I was only joking? But now that I perceive you are in earnest, I will serve you in earnest in everything I can do to please you. Only one thing I entreat in return for the many I intend to do for you: do not expose me to Argüello's persecution, for I would rather lose your friendship than have to endure hers. Good God, friend! her tongue goes like the clapper of a mill; you can smell her breath a league off; all her front teeth are false, and it is my private opinion that she does not wear her own hair, but a wig. To crown all, since she began to make overtures to me, she has taken to painting white, till her face looks like nothing but a mask of plaster."
"True, indeed, my poor comrade; she is worse even than the Gallegan who makes me suffer martyrdom. I'll tell you what you shall do; only stay this night in the inn, and to-morrow you shall buy yourself an ass, find a lodging, and so secure yourself from the importunities of Argüello, whilst I remain exposed to those of the Gallegan, and to the fire of my Costanza's eyes."
This being agreed on, the two friends returned to the inn, where Asturiano was received with great demonstrations of love by Argüello. That night a great number of muleteers stopping in the house, and those near it, got up a dance before the door of the Sevillano. Asturiano played the guitar: the female dancers were the two Gallegans and Argüello, and three girls from another inn. Many persons stood by as spectators, with their faces muffled, prompted more by a desire to see Costanza than the dance; but they were disappointed, for she did not make her appearance. Asturiano played for the dancers with such spirit and precision of touch that they all vowed he made the guitar speak; but just as he was doing his best, accompanying the instrument with his voice, and the dancers were capering like mad, one of the muffled spectators cried out, "Stop, you drunken sot! hold your noise, wineskin, piperly poet, miserable catgut scraper!" Several others followed up this insulting speech with such a torrent of abuse that Lope thought it best to cease playing and singing; but the muleteers took the interruption so much amiss, that had it not been for the earnest endeavours of the landlord to appease them, there would have been a terrible row. In spite indeed of all he could do, the muleteers would not have kept their hands quiet, had not the watch happened just then to come up and clear the ground. A moment afterwards the ears of all who were awake in the quarter were greeted by an admirable voice proceeding from a man who had seated himself on a stone opposite the door of the Sevillano. Everybody listened with rapt attention to his song, but none more so than Tomas Pedro, to whom every word sounded like a sentence of excommunication, for the romance ran thus:
In what celestial realms of space
Is hid that beauteous, witching face?
Where shines that star, which, boding ills,
My trembling heart with torment fills?
Why in its wrath should Heaven decree
That we no more its light should see?
Why bid that sun no longer cheer
With glorious beams our drooping sphere?
Yes, second sun! 'tis true you shine,
But not for us, with light divine!
Yet gracious come from ocean's bed;
Why hide from us your radiant head?
Constance! a faithful, dying swain
Adores your beauty, though in vain;
For when his love he would impart,
You fly and scorn his proffered heart!
O let his tears your pity sway,
And quick he'll bear you hence away;
For shame it is this sordid place,
Should do your charms such foul disgrace
Here you're submissive to control,
Sweet mistress of my doating soul!
But altars youths to you should raise,
And passion'd vot'ries sound your praise!
Quit then a scene which must consume
Unworthily your early bloom!
To my soft vows your ear incline,
Nor frown, but be for ever mine!
His gladsome torch let Hymen light,
And let the god our hearts unite!
This day would then before its end,
See me your husband, lover, friend.
The last line was immediately followed by the flight of two brick-bats, which fell close to the singer's feet; but had they come in contact with his head, they would certainly have knocked all the music and poetry out of it. The poor frightened musician took to his heels with such speed that a greyhound could not have caught him. Unhappy fate of night-birds, to be always subject to such showers! All who had heard the voice of the fugitive admired it, but most of all, Tomas Pedro, only he would rather the words had not been addressed to Costanza, although she had not heard one of them. The only person who found fault with the romance was a muleteer, nicknamed Barrabas. As soon as this man saw the singer run off, he bawled after him; "There you go, you Judas of a troubadour! May the fleas eat your eyes out! Who the devil taught you to sing to a scullery-maid about celestial realms, and spheres, and ocean-beds, and to call her stars and suns and all the rest of it? If you had told her she was as straight as asparagus, as white as milk, as modest as a lay-brother in his novitiate, more full of humours and unmanageable than a hired mule, and harder than a lump of dry mortar, why then she would have understood you and been pleased; but your fine words are fitter for a scholar than for a scullery-maid. Truly, there are poets in the world who write songs that the devil himself could not understand; for my part, at least, Barrabas though I am, I cannot make head or tail of what this fellow has been singing. What did he suppose Costanza could make of them? But she knows better than to listen to such stuff, for she is snug in bed, and cares no more for all these caterwaulers than she does for Prester John. This fellow at least, is not one of the singers belonging to the corregidor's son, for they are out and out good ones, and a body can generally understand them; but, by the Lord, this fellow sets me mad."
The bystanders coincided in opinion with Barrabas, and thought his criticism very judicious. Everybody now went to bed, but no sooner was the house all still, than Lope heard some one calling very softly at his bed-room door. "Who's there?" said he. "It is we," whispered a voice, "Argüello and the Gallegan. Open the door and let us in, for we are dying of cold."
"Dying of cold indeed," said Lope, "and we are in the middle of the dog days."
"Oh, leave off now, friend Lope," said the Gallegan; "get up and open the door; for here we are as fine as archduchesses."
"Archduchesses, and at this hour? I don't believe a word of it, but rather think you must be witches or something worse. Get out of that this moment, or, by all that's damnable, if you make me get up I'll leather you with my belt till your hinder parts are as red as poppies."
Finding that he answered them so roughly, and in a manner so contrary to their expectations, the two disappointed damsels returned sadly to their beds; but before they left the door, Argüello put her lips to the key-hole, and hissed through it, "Honey was not made for the mouth of the ass;" and with that, as if she had said something very bitter indeed, and taken adequate revenge on the scorner, she went off to her cheerless bed.
"Look you, Tomas," said Lope to his companion, as soon as they were gone, "set me to fight two giants, or to break the jaws of half a dozen, or a whole dozen of lions, if it be requisite for your service, and I shall do it as readily as I would drink a glass of wine; but that you should put me under the necessity of encountering Argüello, this is what I would never submit to, no, not if I were to be flayed alive. Only think, what damsels of Denmark fate has thrown upon us this night. Well, patience! To-morrow will come, thank God, and then we shall see."
"I have already told you, friend," replied Tomas, "that you may do as you please—either go on your pilgrimage, or buy an ass and turn water-carrier as you proposed."
"I stick to the water-carrying business," said Lope. "My mind is made up not to quit you at present."
They then went to sleep till daylight, when they rose; Tomas Pedro went to give out oats, and Lope set off to the cattle-market to buy an ass. Now it happened that Tomas had spent his leisure on holidays in composing some amorous verses, and had jotted them down in the book in which he kept the account of the oats, intending to copy them out fairly, and then blot them out of the book, or tear out the page. But, before he had done so, he happened to go out one day and leave the book on the top of the oat-bin. His master found it there, and looking into it to see how the account of the oats stood, he lighted upon the verses. Surprised and annoyed, he went off with them to his wife, but before he read them to her, he called Costanza into the room, and peremptorily commanded her to declare whether Tomas Pedro, the hostler, had over made love to her, or addressed any improper language to her, or any that gave token of his being partial to her. Costanza vowed that Tomas had never yet spoken to her in any such way, nor ever given her reason to suppose that he had any bad thoughts towards her.
Her master and mistress believed her, because they had always found her to speak the truth. Having dismissed her, the host turned to his wife and said, "I know not what to say of the matter. You must know, señora, that Tomas has written in this book, in which he keeps the account of the oats, verses that give me an ugly suspicion that he is in love with Costanza."
"Let me see the verses," said the wife, "and I'll tell you what we are to conclude."
"Oh, of course; as you are a poet you will at once see into his thoughts."
"I am not a poet, but you well know that I am a woman of understanding, and that I can say the four prayers in Latin."
"You would do better to say them in plain Spanish; you know your uncle the priest has told you that you make no end of blunders when you patter your Latin, and that what you say is good for nothing."
"That was an arrow from his niece's quiver. She is jealous of seeing me take the Latin hours in hand, and make my way through them as easily as through a vineyard after the vintage."
"Well, have it your own way. Listen now, here are the verses;" and he read some impassioned lines addressed to Costanza.
"Is there any more?" said the landlady.
"No. But what do you think of these verses?"
"In the first place, we must make sure that they are by Tomas."
"Of that there can be no manner of doubt, for the handwriting is most unquestionably the same as that in which the account of the oats is kept."
"Look ye, husband, it appears to me that although Costanza is named in the verses, whence it may be supposed that they were made for her, we ought not for that reason to set the fact down for certain, just as if we had seen them written, for there are other Costanzas in the world besides ours. But even supposing they were meant for her, there is not a word in them that could do her discredit. Let us be on the watch, and look sharply after the girl; for if he is in love with her, we may be sure he will make more verses, and try to give them to her."
"Would it not be better to get rid of all this bother by turning him out of doors?"
"That is for you to do if you think proper. But really, by your own account, the lad does his work so well that it would go against one's conscience to turn him off upon such slight grounds."
"Very well; let us be on the watch as you say, and time will tell us what we have to do." Here the conversation ended, and the landlord carried the book back to the place where he had found it.
Tomas returned in great anxiety to look for his book, found it, and that it might not occasion him another fright, he immediately copied out the verses, effaced the original, and made up his mind to hazard a declaration to Costanza upon the first opportunity that should present itself. Her extreme reserve, however, was such that there seemed little likelihood of his finding such an opportunity; besides, the great concourse of people in the house made it almost impossible that he should have any private conversation with her,—to the despair of her unfortunate lover. That day, however, it chanced that Costanza appeared with one cheek muffled, and told some one who asked her the reason, that she was suffering from a violent face ache. Tomas, whose wits were sharpened by his passion, instantly saw how he might avail himself of that circumstance. "Señora Costanza," he said, "I will give you a prayer in writing, which you have only to recite once or twice, and it will take away your pain forthwith."
"Give it me, if you please," said Costanza, "and I will recite it; for I know how to read."
"It must be on condition, however," said Tomas, "that you do not show it to anybody; for I value it highly, and I should not wish it to lose its charm by being made known to many."
"I promise you that no person shall see it; but let me have it at once, for I can hardly bear this pain."
"I will write it out from memory, and bring it you immediately."
This was the very first conversation that had ever taken place between Tomas and Costanza during all the time he had been in the house, which was nearly a month. Tomas withdrew, wrote out the prayer, and found means to deliver it, unseen by any one else, into Costanza's hand; and she, with great eagerness, and no less devotion, went with it into a room, where she shut herself up alone. Then, opening the paper, she read as follows:—
"Lady of my soul, I am a gentleman of Burgos; and if I survive my father, I shall inherit a property of six thousand ducats yearly income. Upon the fame of your beauty, which spreads far and wide, I left my native place, changed my dress, and came in the garb in which you see me, to serve your master. If you would consent to be mine in the way most accordant with your virtue, put me to any proof you please, to convince you of my truth and sincerity; and when you have fully satisfied yourself in this respect, I will, if you consent, become your husband, and the happiest of men. For the present, I only entreat you not to turn such loving and guileless feelings as mine into the street; for if your master, who has no conception of them, should come to know my aspirations, he would condemn me to exile from your presence, and that would be the same thing as sentencing me to death. Suffer me, señora, to see you until you believe me, considering that he does not deserve the rigorous punishment of being deprived of the sight of you, whose only fault has been that he adores you. You can reply to me with your eyes, unperceived by any of the numbers who are always gazing upon you; for your eyes are such that their anger kills, but their compassion gives new life."
When Tomas saw that Costanza had gone away to read his letter, he remained with a palpitating heart, fearing and hoping either his death-doom, or the one look that should bid him live. Presently Costanza returned, looking so beautiful in spite of her muffling, that if any extraneous cause could have heightened her loveliness, it might be supposed that her surprise at finding the contents of the paper so widely different from what she had expected, had produced that effect. In her hand she held the paper torn into small pieces, and returning, the fragments to Tomas, whose legs could hardly bear him up, "Brother Tomas," she said, "this prayer of yours seems to me to savour more of witchcraft and delusion than of piety, therefore I do not choose to put faith in it or to use it, and I have torn it up that it may not be seen by any one more credulous than myself. Learn other prayers, for it is impossible that this one can ever do you any good."
So saying, she returned to her mistress's room, leaving Tomas sorely distressed, but somewhat comforted at finding that his secret remained safe confined to Costanza's bosom; for as she had not divulged it to her master, he reckoned that at least he was in no danger of being turned out of doors. He considered also, that in having taken the first step, he had overcome mountains of difficulties, for in great and doubtful enterprises the chief difficulty is always in the beginning.
Whilst these things were happening in the posada, Asturiano was going about the market in search of an ass. He examined a great many, but did not find one to his mind; though a gipsy tried hard to force upon him one that moved briskly enough, but more from the effects of some quicksilver which the vendor had put into the animal's ears, than from its natural spirit and nimbleness. But though the pace was good enough, Lope was not satisfied with the size, for he wanted an ass big and strong enough to carry himself and the water vessels, whether they were full or empty. At last a young fellow came up, and whispered in his ear, "If you want a beast of the right sort for a water-carrier's business, I have one close by in a meadow; a bigger or a better you will not find in Toledo. Take my advice, and never buy a gipsy's beast, for though they may seem sound and good, they are all shams, and full of hidden defects. If you want to buy the real thing, come along with me, and shut your mouth."
Lope consented, and away went the pair shoulder to shoulder, till they arrived at the King's Gardens, where they found several water-carriers seated under the shade of a water wheel, whilst their asses were grazing in an adjoining meadow. The vendor pointed out his ass, which took Lope's fancy immediately, and was praised by all present, as a very strong animal, a good goer, and a capital feeder. The bargain was soon struck, and Lope gave sixteen ducats for the ass, with all its accoutrements. The bystanders congratulated him on his purchase, and on his entrance into the business, assuring him that he had bought an exceedingly lucky ass, for the man who had sold him had, in less than a year, without over-working himself, made enough to buy two suits of clothes, over and above his own keep, and that of the ass, and the sixteen ducats, with which he intended to return to his native place, where a marriage had been arranged with a half kinswoman of his. Besides the water-carriers who assisted at the sale of the ass, there was a group of four stretched on the ground, and playing at primera, the earth serving them for a table, and their cloaks for a table cloth. Lope went up to watch their game, and saw that they played more like archdeacons than like water-carriers, each of them having before him a pile of more than a hundred reals in cuartos and in silver. Presently two of the players, having lost all they had, got up; whereupon the seller of the ass said, that, if there was a fourth hand, he would play, but he did not like a three-handed game.
Lope, who never liked to spoil sport, said that he would make a fourth. They sat down at once, and went at it so roundly that, in a few moments, Lope lost six crowns which he had about him, and finding himself without coin, said if they liked to play for the ass he would stake him. The proposal was agreed to, and he staked one quarter of the ass, saying they should play for him, quarter by quarter. His luck was so bad, that in four consecutive games he lost the four quarters of his ass, and they were won by the very man who had sold him. The winner got up to take possession, but Lope stopped him, observing that he had only played for and lost the four quarters of his ass, which the winner was welcome to take, but he must leave him the tail. This queer demand made all present shout with laughter; and some of them, who were knowing in the law, were of opinion that his claim was unreasonable, for when a sheep or any other beast is sold, the tail is never separated from the carcass, but goes as a matter of course with one of the hind quarters. To this Lope replied that in Barbary they always reckon five quarters to a sheep, the tail making the fifth, and being reckoned as valuable as any of the other quarters. He admitted that when a beast was sold alive, and not quartered, that the tail was included in the sale; but this was not to the point in question, for he had not sold his ass, but played it away, and it had never been his intention to stake the tail; therefore he required them forthwith to give him up the same, with everything thereto annexed, or pertaining, that is to say, the whole series of spinal bones, from the back of the skull to where they ended in the tail, and to the tips of the lowest hairs thereof.
"Well," said one, "suppose it be as you say, and that your claim is allowed; leave the tail sticking to the rest of the ass, and hold on by it."
"No," said Lope, "give me up the tail, or all the water-carriers in the world shall never make me give up the ass. Don't imagine because there are so many of you, that I will let you put any cheating tricks on me, for I am a man who can stand up to another man, and put two handbreadths of cold steel into his guts without his being able to tell how he came by them. Moreover, I won't be paid in money for the tail at so much a pound, but I will have it in substance, and cut off from the ass, as I have said."
The winner of the four quarters and the rest of the company began to think that it would not be advisable to resort to force in this business, for Lope seemed to them to be a man of such mettle, that he would not be vanquished without some trouble. Nor were they mistaken; for, as became a man who had spent three seasons at the tunny fisheries, where all sorts of rows and brawls are familiar things, he rattled out a few of the most out of the way oaths in vogue there, threw his cap into the air, whipped out a knife from beneath his cloak, and put himself into such a posture as struck the whole company with awe and respect. At last, one of them, who seemed the most rational, induced the rest to agree that Lope should be allowed to stake the tail against a quarter of the ass at a game of quinola. So said, so done. Lope won the first game; the loser was piqued and staked another quarter, which went the way of the first; and in two more games the whole ass was gone. He then proposed to play for money: Lope was unwilling, but was so importuned on all hands, that at last he consented; and such was his run of luck that he left his opponent without a maravedi. So intense was the loser's vexation, that he rolled and writhed upon the ground and knocked his head against it. Lope, however, like a good-natured, liberal gentleman, raised him up, returned all the money he had won, including the sixteen ducats the price of the ass, and even divided what he had left among the bystanders. Great was the surprise of them all at this extraordinary liberality; and had they lived in the time of the great Tamerlane, they would have made him king of the water-carriers.
Accompanied by a great retinue, Lope returned to the city, where he related his adventure to Tomas, who in turn recounted to him his own partial success. There was no tavern, or eating house, or rogues' gathering, in which the play for the ass was not known, the dispute about the tail, and the high spirit and liberality of the Asturian; but as the mob are for the most part unjust, and more prone to evil than to good, they thought nothing of the generosity and high mettle of the great Lope, but only of the tail; and he had scarcely been two days carrying water about the city, before he found himself pointed at by people who cried, "There goes the man of the tail!" The boys caught up the cry, and no sooner had Lope shown himself in any street, than it rang from one end to the other with shouts of "Asturiano, give up the tail! Give up the tail, Asturiano!" At first Lope said not a word, thinking that his silence would tire out his persecutors; but in this he was mistaken, for the more he held his tongue the more the boys wagged theirs, till at last he lost patience, and getting off his ass began to drub the boys; but this was only cutting off the heads of Hydra, and for every one he laid low by thrashing some boy, there sprang up on the instant, not seven but seven hundred more, that began to pester him more and more for the tail. At last he found it expedient to retire to the lodgings he had taken apart from his companion in order to avoid Argüello, and to keep close there until the influence of the malignant planet which then ruled the hours should have passed away, and the boys should have forgotten to ask him for the tail. For two days he never left the house except by night to go and see Tomas, and ask him how he got on. Tomas told him that since he had given the paper to Costanza he had never been able to speak a single word to her, and that she seemed to be more reserved than ever. Once he had found as he thought an opportunity to accost her, but before he could get out a word, she stopped him, saying, "Tomas, I am in no pain now, and therefore have no need of your words or of your prayers. Be content that I do not accuse you to the Inquisition, and give yourself no further trouble." But she made this declaration without any expression of anger in her countenance. Lope then related how the boys annoyed him, calling after him for the tail, and Tomas advised him not to go abroad, at least with his ass, or if he did that he should choose only the least frequented streets. If that was not enough, he had an unfailing remedy left, which was to get rid of his business and with it of the uncivil demand to which it subjected him. Lope asked him had the Gallegan come again to his room. He said she had not, but that she persisted in trying to ingratiate herself with him by means of dainties which she purloined out of what she cooked for the guests. After this conversation Lope went back to his lodgings, intending not to leave them again for another six days, at least in company with his ass.
It might be about eleven at night, when the corregidor most unexpectedly entered the Posado del Sevillano, at the head of a formidable posse. The host and even the guests were startled and agitated by his visit; for as comets, when they appear, always excite fears of disaster, just so the ministers of justice, when they suddenly enter a house, strike even guiltless consciences with alarm. The unwelcome visitor walked into a room, and called for the master of the house, who came tremblingly to know what might be the señor corregidor's pleasure. "Are you the landlord?" said the magistrate with great gravity. "Yes, señor, and your worship's humble servant to command," was the reply. The corregidor then ordered that every one else should quit the room, and leave him alone with the landlord. This being done, he resumed his questions.
"What servants have you in your inn, landlord?"
"Señor, I have two Gallegan wenches, a housekeeper, and a young man who gives out the oats and straw, and keeps the reckoning."
"Then tell me, landlord, what is become of a girl who is said to be a servant in this house, and so beautiful that she is known all over this city as the illustrious scullery-maid? It has even reached my ears that my son Don Perequito is in love with her, and that not a night passes in which he does not serenade her."
"Señor, it is true that this illustrious scullery-maid, as they call her, is in my house, but she neither is my servant, nor ceases to be so."
"I do not understand you. What do you mean by saying that she is and is not your servant?"
"It is the real truth, and if your worship will allow me, I will explain the matter to you, and tell you what I have never told to any one."
"Before I hear what you have to say, I must first see this scullery-maid."
Upon this the landlord went to the door and called to his wife to send in Costanza, When the landlady heard that, she was in great dismay, and began to wring her hands, saying, "Lord, have mercy on me! What can the corregidor want with Costanza, and alone! Some terrible calamity must surely have happened, for this girl's beauty bewitches the men."
"Don't be alarmed, señora," said Costanza, "I will go and see what the señor corregidor wants, and if anything bad has happened, be assured the fault is not mine;" and without waiting to be called a second time, she took a lighted candle in a silver candlestick, and went into the room where the corregidor was. As soon as he saw her, he bade the landlord shut the door, and then taking the candle out of her hand; and holding it near her face, he stood gazing at her from head to foot. The blush which this called up into Costanza's cheeks, made her look so beautiful and so modest that it seemed to the corregidor he beheld an angel descended on earth. After a long scrutiny, "Landlord," he said, "an inn is not fit setting for a jewel like this, and I now declare that my son Don Perequito has shown his good sense in fixing his affections so worthily. I say, damsel, that they may well call you not only illustrious, but most illustrious: but it should not be with the addition of scullery-maid, but with that of duchess."
"She is no scullery-maid, señor," said the host; "her only service in the house is to keep the keys of the plate, of which, by God's bounty, I have some quantity for the service of the honourable guests who come to this inn."
"Be that as it may, landlord," returned the corregidor; "I say it is neither seemly nor proper that this damsel should live in an inn. Is she a relation of yours?"
"She is neither my relation nor my servant; and if your worship would like to know who she is, your worship shall hear, when she is not present, things that will both please and surprise you."
"I should like to know it. Let Costanza retire, and be assured she may count on me in all things, as she would upon her own father; for her great modesty and beauty oblige all who see her to offer themselves for her service."
Costanza replied not a word, but with great composure made a profound reverence to the corregidor. On leaving the room she found her mistress waiting in great agitation. She told her all that had passed, and how her master remained with the corregidor to tell some things, she knew not what, which he did not choose her to hear. All this did not quite tranquilise the landlady, nor did she entirely recover her equanimity until the corregidor went away, and she saw her husband safe and free. The latter meanwhile had told the corregidor the following tale:—
"It is now, by my reckoning, señor, fifteen years, one month, and four days, since there came to this house a lady dressed in the habit of a pilgrim, and carried in a litter. She was attended by four servant-men on horseback, and two dueñas and a damsel who rode in a coach. She had also two sumpter mules richly caparisoned, and carrying a fine bed and all the necessary implements for cooking. In short, the whole equipage was first rate, and the pilgrim had all the appearance of being some great lady; and though she seemed to be about forty years of age, she was nevertheless beautiful in the extreme. She was in bad health, looked pale, and was so weary, that she ordered her bed to be instantly made, and her servants made it in this very room. They asked me who was the most famous physician in this city. I said Doctor de la Fuente. They went for him instantly; he came without delay, saw his patient alone, and the result was that he ordered the bed to be made in some other part of the house, where the lady might not be disturbed by any noise, which was immediately done. None of the men-servants entered the lady's apartment, but only the two dueñas and the damsel. My wife and I asked the men-servants who was this lady, what was her name, whence she came, and whither she was going? Was she wife, widow, or maid, and why she wore that pilgrim's dress? To all these questions, which we repeated many and many a time, we got no other answer than that this pilgrim was a noble and wealthy lady of old Castile, that she was a widow, and had no children to inherit her wealth; and that having been for some months ill of the dropsy, she had made a vow to go on a pilgrimage to our Lady of Guadalupe, and that was the reason for the dress she wore. As for her name, they were under orders to call her nothing but the lady pilgrim.
"So much we learned then; but three days after one of the dueñas called myself and my wife into the lady's presence, and there, with the door locked, and before her women, she addressed us with tears in her eyes, I believe in these very words:—
"'Heaven is my witness, friends, that without any fault of mine, I find myself in the cruel predicament which I shall now declare to you. I am pregnant, and so near my time, that I already feel the pangs of travail. None of my men-servants are aware of my misfortune, but from my women here I have neither been able nor desirous to conceal it. To escape prying eyes in my own neighbourhood, and that this hour might not come upon me there, I made a vow to go to our Lady of Guadalupe; but it is plainly her will that my labour should befal me in your house. It is now for you to succour and aid me with the secrecy due to one who commits her honour to your hands. In this purse there are two hundred gold crowns, which I present to you as a first proof how grateful I shall be for the good offices I am sure you will render me;' and taking from under her pillow a green silk purse, embroidered with gold, she put it into the hands of my wife, who, like a simpleton, stood gaping at the lady, and did not say so much as a word in the way of thanks or acknowledgment. For my part I remember that I said there was no need at all of that, we were not persons to be moved more by interest than by humanity to do a good deed when the occasion offered. The lady then continued, 'You must immediately, my friends, look out for some place to which you may convey my child as soon as it is born, and also you must contrive some story to tell to the person in whose charge you will leave it. At first I wish the babe to remain in this city, and afterwards to be taken to a village. As for what is subsequently done, I will give you instructions on my return from Guadalupe, if it is God's will that I should live to complete my pilgrimage, for in the meantime I shall have had leisure to consider what may be my best course. I shall have no need of a midwife; for as I know from other confinements of mine, more honourable than this, I shall do well enough with the aid of my women only, and thus I shall avoid having an additional witness to my misfortune.'
"Here the poor distressed pilgrim ended what she had to say, and broke out into a flood of tears, but was partly composed by the soothing words spoken to her by my wife, who had recovered her wits. I immediately went in search of a woman to whom I might take the child when it was born; and, between twelve and one o'clock that night, when all the people in the house were fast asleep, the lady was delivered of the most beautiful little girl that eyes ever beheld, and the very same that your worship has just seen. But the wonder was that neither did the mother make any moan in her labour, nor did the baby cry; but all passed off quietly, and in all the silence that became this extraordinary case. The lady kept her bed for six days, during which the doctor was constant in his visits; not that she had informed him of the cause of her illness, or that she took any of the medicines he prescribed; but she thought to blind her men-servants by his visits, as she afterwards informed me when she was out of danger. On the eighth day she left her bed, apparently as big as she had been before her delivery, continued her pilgrimage, and returned in three weeks, looking almost quite well, for she had gradually reduced the bulk of her artificial dropsy. The little girl had been christened Costanza, in accordance with the order given me by her mother, and was already placed with a nurse in a village about two leagues hence, where she passed for my niece. The lady was pleased to express her satisfaction with all I had done, and gave me when she was going away a gold chain, which is now in my possession, from which she took off six links, telling me that they would be brought by the person who should come to claim the child. She also took a piece of white parchment, wrote upon it, and then cut zigzag through what she had written. Look, sir, here are my hands locked together with the fingers interwoven. Now suppose your honour were to write across my fingers, it is easy to imagine that one could read the writing whilst the fingers were joined, but that the meaning would be lost as soon as the hands were separated, and would appear again as soon as they were united as before. Just so with the parchment; one half serves as a key to the other; when they are put together the letters make sense, but separately they have no meaning. One-half of the parchment and the whole chain, short of the six links, were left with me, and I keep them still, always expecting the arrival of the person who is to produce the counterparts; for the lady told me that in two years she would send for her daughter, charging me that I should have her brought up not as became her mother's quality, but as a simple villager; and if by any chance she was not able to send for the child so soon, I was on no account to acquaint her with the secret of her birth, even should she have arrived at years of discretion. The lady moreover begged me to excuse her if she did not tell me who she was; having for the present important reasons to conceal her name. Finally, after giving us four hundred gold crowns more, and embracing my wife with tears, she departed, leaving us filled with admiration for her discretion, worth, beauty, and modesty.
"Costanza remained at nurse in the village for two years. At the end of that time I brought her home, and have kept her ever since constantly with me, in the dress of a girl who had to work for her bread, as her mother directed. Fifteen years, one month, and four days I have been looking for the person who should come and claim her, but the length of time that has elapsed makes me begin to lose all hope of his coming. If he does not make his appearance before this year is out, it is my determination to adopt her and bequeath her all I am worth, which is upwards of sixteen thousand ducats, thanks be to God. It now remains for me, señor Corregidor, to enumerate to you the virtues and good qualities of Costanza, if it be possible for me to express them. First and foremost, she is most piously devoted to our Lady; she confesses and communicates every month; she can read and write; there's not a better lace maker in all Toledo; she sings without accompaniment like an angel; in the matter of behaving with propriety she has not her equal; as for her beauty, your worship has seen it with your own eyes. Señor Don Pedro, your worship's son, has never exchanged a word with her in her life. It is true that from time to time he treats her to some music, which she never listens to. Many señors, and men of title too, have put up at this house, and have delayed their journey for several days solely to have their fill of looking at her; but I well know there is not one of them can boast with truth that she ever gave them opportunity to say one word to her either alone or before folk. This, señor, is the real history of the illustrious scullery-maid, who is no scullion, in which I have not departed one tittle from the truth."
The host had long ended his narrative before the corregidor broke silence, so much was he struck by the strange facts he had heard. At last he desired to see the parchment and the chain; the host produced them without delay, and they corresponded exactly to the description he had given of them. The chain was of curious workmanship, and on the parchment were written, one under the other, on the projecting portions of the zigzag, the letters, TIITEREOE which manifestly required to be joined with those of the counterpart to make sense. The corregidor admired the ingenuity of the contrivance, and judged from the costliness of the chain, that the pilgrim must have been a lady of great wealth. It was his intention to remove the lovely girl from the inn as soon as he had chosen a suitable convent for her abode; but for the present he contented himself with taking away the parchment only, desiring the innkeeper to inform him if any one came for Costanza, before he showed that person the chain, which he left in his custody. And with this parting injunction the corregidor left the house, much marvelling at what he had seen and heard.
Whilst all this affair was going on, Tomas was almost beside himself with agitation and alarm, and lost in a thousand conjectures, every one of which he dismissed as improbable the moment it was formed. But when he saw the corregidor go away, leaving Costanza behind him, his spirits revived and he began to recover his self-possession. He did not venture to question the landlord, nor did the latter say a word about what had passed between him and the corregidor to any body but his wife, who was greatly relieved thereby, and thanked God for her delivery out of a terrible fright.
About one o'clock on the following day, there came to the inn two elderly cavaliers of venerable presence, attended by four servants on horseback and two on foot. Having inquired if that was the Posada del Sevillano, and being answered in the affirmative, they entered the gateway, and the four mounted servants, dismounting, first helped their master's out of their saddles. Costanza came out to meet the new-comers with her wonted propriety of demeanour, and no sooner had one of the cavaliers set eyes on her, than, turning to his companion, he said, "I believe, señor Don Juan, we have already found the very thing we are come in quest of." Tomas, who had come as usual to take charge of the horses and mules, instantly recognised two of his father's servants; a moment after he saw his father himself, and found that his companion was no other than the father of Carriazo. He instantly conjectured that they were both on their way to the tunny fisheries to look for himself and his friend, some one having no doubt told them that it was there, and not in Flanders, they would find their sons. Not daring to appear before his father in the garb he wore, he made a bold venture, passed by the party with his hand before his face, and went to look for Costanza, whom, by great good luck, he found alone. Then hurriedly, and with a tremulous voice, dreading lest she would not give him time to say a word to her, "Costanza," he said, "one of those two elderly cavaliers is my father—that one whom you will hear called Don Juan de Avendaño. Inquire of his servants if he has a son, Don Tomas de Avendaño by name, and that is myself. Thence you may go on to make such other inquiries as will satisfy you that I have told you the truth respecting my quality, and that I will keep my word with regard to every offer I have made you. And now farewell, for I will not return to this house until they have left it."
Costanza made him no reply, nor did he wait for any, but hurrying out, with his face concealed as he had come in, he went to acquaint Carriazo that their fathers had arrived at the Sevillano. The landlord called for Tomas to give out oats, but no Tomas appearing, he had to do it himself.
Meanwhile, one of the two cavaliers called one of the Gallegan wenches aside, and asked her what was the name of the beautiful girl he had seen, and was she a relation of the landlord or the landlady. "The girl's name is Costanza," replied the Gallegan; "she is no relation either to the landlord or the landlady, nor do I know what she is. All I can say is, I wish the murrain had her, for I don't know what there is about her, that she does not leave one of us girls in the house a single chance, for all we have our own features too, such as God made them. Nobody enters these doors but the first thing he does is to ask, Who is that beautiful girl? and the next is to say all sorts of flattering things of her, while nobody condescends to say a word to the rest of us, not so much as 'What are you doing here, devils, or women, or whatever you are?'"
"From your account, then," said the gentleman, "I suppose she has a fine time of it with the strangers who put up at this house."
"You think so. Well, just you hold her foot for the shoeing, and see how you'll like the job. By the Lord, señor, if she would only give her admirers leave to look at her, she might roll in gold; but she's more touch-me-not than a hedgehog; she's a devourer of Ave Marias, and spends the whole day at her needle and her prayers. I wish I was as sure of a good legacy as she is of working miracles some day. Bless you, she's a downright saint; my mistress says she wears hair-cloth next her skin."
Highly delighted with what he had heard from the Gallegan, the gentleman did not wait till they had taken off his spurs, but called for the landlord, and withdrew with him into a private room. "Señor host," said he, "I am come to redeem a pledge of mine which has been in your hands for some years, and I bring you for it a thousand gold crowns, these links of a chain, and this parchment."
The host instantly recognised the links and the parchment, and highly delighted with the promise of the thousand crowns, replied, "Señor, the pledge you wish to redeem is in this house, but not the chain or the parchment which is to prove the truth of your claim; I pray you therefore to have patience, and I will return immediately." So saying, he ran off to inform the corregidor of what was happening.
The corregidor, who had just done dinner, mounted his horse without delay, and rode to the Posada del Sevillano, taking with him the tally parchment. No sooner had he entered the room where the two cavaliers sat, than hastening with open arms to embrace one of them, "Bless my soul! my good cousin Don Juan de Avendaño! This is indeed a welcome surprise."
"I am delighted to see you, my good cousin," said Don Juan, "and to find you as well as I always wish you. Embrace this gentleman, cousin; this is Don Diego de Carriazo, a great señor and my friend."
"I am already acquainted with the señor Don Diego," replied the corregidor, "and am his most obedient servant."
After a further interchange of civilities they passed into another room, where they remained alone with the innkeeper, who said as he produced the chain, "The señor corregidor knows what you are come for, Don Diego de Carriazo. Be pleased to produce the links that are wanting to this chain; his worship will show the parchment which he holds, and let us come to the proof for which I have been so long waiting."
"It appears, then," said Don Diego, "that it will not be necessary to explain to the señor corregidor the reason of our coming, since you have done so already, señor landlord."
"He told me something," said the corregidor, "but he has left much untold which I long to know. Here is the parchment."
Don Diego produced that which he had brought; the two were put together and found to fit accurately into each other; and between every two letters of the innkeeper's portion, which as we have said were TIITEREOE there now appeared one of the following series HSSHTUTKN, the whole making together the words, This is the true token. The six links of the chain brought by Don Diego were then compared with the larger fragment, and found to correspond exactly.
"So far all is clear," said the corregidor; "it now remains for us to discover, if it be possible, who are the parents of this very beautiful lady."
"Her father," said Don Diego, "you see in me; her mother is not living, and you must be content with knowing that she was a lady of such rank that I might have been her servant. But though I conceal her name, I would not have you suppose that she was in any wise culpable, however manifest and avowed her fault may appear to have been. The story I will now briefly relate to you will completely exonerate her memory.
"You must know, then, that Costanza's mother, being left a widow by a man of high rank, retired to an estate of hers, where she lived a calm sequestered life among her servants and vassals. It chanced one day when I was hunting, that I found myself very near her house and determined to pay her a visit. It was siesta time when I arrived at her palace (for I can call it nothing else): giving my horse to one of my servants, I entered, and saw no one till I was in the very room in which she lay asleep on a black ottoman. She was extremely handsome; the silence, the loneliness of the place, and the opportunity, awakened my guilty desires, and without pausing to reflect, I locked the door, woke her, and holding her firmly in my grasp said, 'No cries, señora! they would only serve to proclaim your dishonour; no one has seen me enter this room, for by good fortune all your servants are fast asleep, and should your cries bring them hither, they can do no more than kill me in your very arms; and if they do, your reputation will not be the less blighted for all that.' In fine, I effected my purpose against her will and by main force, and left her so stupefied by the calamity that had befallen her, that she either could not or would not utter one word to me. Quitting the place as I had entered it, I rode to the house of one of my friends, who resided within two leagues of my victim's abode. The lady subsequently removed to another residence, and two years passed without my seeing her, or making any attempt to do so. At the end, of that time I heard that she was dead.
"About three weeks since I received a letter from a man who had been the deceased lady's steward, earnestly entreating me to come to him, as he had something to communicate to me which deeply concerned my happiness and honour. I went to him, very far from dreaming of any such thing as I was about to hear from him, and found him at the point of death. He told me in brief terms that his lady on her deathbed had made known to him what had happened between her and me, how she had become pregnant, had made a pilgrimage to our Lady of Guadalupe to conceal her misfortune, and had been delivered in this inn of a daughter named Costanza. The man gave me the tokens upon which she was to be delivered to me, namely the piece of chain and the parchment, and with them thirty thousand gold crowns, which the lady had left as a marriage portion for her daughter. At the same time, he told me that it was the temptation to appropriate that money which had so long prevented him from obeying the dying behest of his mistress, but now that he was about to be called to the great account, he was eager to relieve his conscience by giving me up the money and putting me in the way to find my daughter. Returning home with the money and the tokens, I related the whole story to Don Juan de Avendaño, and he has been kind enough to accompany me to this city."
Don Diego had but just finished his narrative when some one was heard shouting at the street-door, "Tell Tomas Pedro, the hostler, that they are taking his friend the Asturiano to prison." On hearing this the corregidor immediately sent orders to the alguazil to bring in his prisoner, which was forthwith done. In came the Asturian with his mouth all bloody. He had evidently been very roughly handled, and was held with no tender grasp by the alguazil. The moment he entered the room he was thunderstruck at beholding his own father and Avendaño's, and to escape recognition he covered his face with a handkerchief, under pretence of wiping away the blood. The corregidor inquired what that young man had done who appeared to have been so roughly handed. The alguazil replied that he was a water-carrier, known by the name of the Asturian, and the boys in the street used to shout after him, "Give up the tail, Asturiano; give up the tail." The alguazil then related the story out of which that cry had grown, whereat all present laughed not a little. The alguazil further stated that as the Asturian was going out at the Puerta de Alcantara, the boys who followed him having redoubled their cries about the tail, he dismounted from his ass, laid about them all, and left one of them half dead with the beating he had given him. Thereupon the officer proceeded to arrest him; he resisted, and that was how he came to be in the state in which he then appeared. The corregidor ordered the prisoner to uncover his face, but as he delayed to do so the alguazil snatched away the handkerchief. "My son, Don Diego!" cried the astonished father. "What is the meaning of all this? How came you in that dress? What, you have not yet left off your scampish tricks?" Carriazo fell on his knees before his father, who, with tears in his eyes, held him long in his embrace. Don Juan de Avendaño, knowing that his son had accompanied Carriazo, asked the latter where he was, and received for answer the news that Don Tomas de Avendaño was the person who gave out the oats and straw in that inn.
This new revelation made by the Asturiano put the climax to the surprises of the day. The corregidor desired the innkeeper to bring in his hostler. "I believe he is not in the house, but I will go look for him," said he, and he left the room for that purpose. Don Diego asked Carriazo what was the meaning of these metamorphoses, and what had induced him to turn water-carrier, and Don Tomas hostler? Carriazo replied, that he could not answer these questions in public, but he would do so in private. Meanwhile Tomas Pedro lay hid in his room, in order to see thence, without being himself seen, what his father and Carriazo's were doing; but he was in great perplexity about the arrival of the corregidor, and the general commotion in the inn. At last some one having told the landlord where he was hidden, he went and tried half by fair means and half by force to bring him down; but he would not have succeeded had not the corregidor himself gone out into the yard, and called him by his own name, saying, "Come down, señor kinsman; you will find neither bears nor lions in your way." Tomas then left his hiding place, and went and knelt with downcast eyes and great submission at the feet of his father, who embraced him with a joy surpassing that of the Prodigal's father when the son who had been lost was found again.
The corregidor sent for Costanza, and taking her by the hand, presented her to her father, saying, "Receive, Señor Don Diego, this treasure, and esteem it the richest you could desire. And you, beautiful maiden, kiss your father's hand, and give thanks to heaven which has so happily exalted your low estate." Costanza, who till that moment had not even guessed at what was occurring, could only fall at her father's feet, all trembling with emotion, clasp his hands in hers, and cover them with kisses and tears.
Meanwhile the corregidor had been urgent with his cousin Don Juan that the whole party should come with him to his house; and though Don Juan would have declined the invitation, the corregidor was so pressing that he carried his point, and the whole party got into his coach, which he had previously sent for. But when the corregidor bade Costanza take her place in it, her heart sank within her; she threw herself into the landlady's arms, and wept so piteously, that the hearts of all the beholders were moved. "What is this, daughter of my soul?" said the hostess; "Going to leave me? Can you part from her who has reared you with the love of a mother?" Costanza was no less averse to the separation; but the tenderhearted corregidor declared that the hostess also should enter the coach, and that she should not be parted from her whom she regarded as a daughter, as long as she remained in Toledo. So the whole party, including the hostess, set out together for the corregidor's house, where they were well received by his noble lady.
After they had enjoyed a sumptuous repast, Carriazo related to his father how, for love of Costanza, Don Tomas had taken service as hostler in the inn, and how his devotion to her was such that, before he knew her to be a lady, and the daughter of a man of such quality, he would gladly have married her even as a scullery-maid. The wife of the corregidor immediately made Costanza put on clothes belonging to a daughter of hers of the same age and figure, and if she had been beautiful in the dress of a working girl, she seemed heavenly in that of a lady, and she wore it with such ease and grace that one would have supposed she had never been used to any other kind of costume from her birth. But among so many who rejoiced, there was one person who was full of sadness, and that was Don Pedro, the corregidor's son, who at once concluded that Costanza was not to be his; nor was he mistaken, for it was arranged between the corregidor, Don Diego de Carriazo, and Don Juan de Avendaño, that Don Tomas should marry Costanza, her father bestowing upon her the thirty thousand crowns left by her mother; that the water-carrier Don Diego de Carriazo should marry the daughter of the corregidor, and that Don Pedro the corregidor's son, should receive the hand of Don Juan de Avendaño's daughter, his father undertaking to obtain a dispensation with regard to their relationship. In this manner all were finally made happy. The news of the three marriages, and of the singular fortune of the illustrious scullery-maid, spread through the city, and multitudes flocked to see Costanza in her new garb as a lady, which became her so well. These persons saw the hostler Tomas Pedro changed into Don Tomas de Avendaño, and dressed as a man of quality. They observed, too, that Lope Asturiano looked very much the gentleman since he had changed his costume, and dismissed the ass and the water-vessels; nevertheless, there were not wanting some who, as he passed through the streets in all his pomp, still called out to him for the tail.
After remaining a month in Toledo most of the party went to Burgos, namely, Don Diego de Carriazo, his wife, and his father; Costanza, and her husband, Don Tomas, and the corregidor's son, who desired to visit his kinswoman and destined bride. The host was enriched by the present of the thousand crowns, and by the many jewels which Costanza bestowed upon her señora, as she persisted in calling her who had brought her up. The story of the illustrious scullery-maid afforded the poets of the golden Tagus a theme on which to exercise their pens in celebrating the incomparable beauty of Costanza, who still lives happily with her faithful hostler. Carriazo has three sons, who, without inheriting their father's tastes, or caring to know whether or not there are any such things as tunny fisheries in the world, are all pursuing their studies at Salamanca; whilst their father never sees a water-carrier's ass but he thinks of the one he drove in Toledo, and is not without apprehension that, when he least expects it, his ears shall be saluted with some squib having for its burden, "Give us the tail, Asturiano! Asturiano, give us the tail!"
- See the romance of Amadis of Gaul.