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“Nineteen millions of maledictions light upon your churlish head! muttered I in my teeth, thinking I saw my heart's blood gushing out when I heard these words; for the prospect of the old diet, to which I was about to return, made me sensible of all the horrors of
future hunger before I felt it.
“He went out soon after, and I as soon returned to the contemplation of the dear forbidden chest, and throwing myself upon my knees before the loaves, I counted them with my fingers' ends, in hopes the devilish priest might have mistaken the number; but this was to no purpose, there being nine loaves and a piece, and no more : all I could do was to kiss them one after another, and cut a little thin slice off that which was broke. This was all the assistance I could come at that day, and far short of what I could have dispensed with; for my stomach having been accustomed, for several days together, to a larger allowance than before, the hunger was the worse to bear, and therefore I did little else all the day long but open and shut the trunk, to feed at least my eyes upon my master's holy bread.
“In this great exigency of my affairs, my happy genius suggested another thought to procure me some assistance, which, though but small, was better than nothing, and partly saved my life. The trunk was old, and shattered enough to make one believe the mice might get in to damnify the bread; and since I durst not take a whole one, I thought at least I might counterfeit a mouse without any danger.
“Extremely pleased with this expedient, I began to crumb the bread upon an old napkin that was in the trunk, and when I had made holes in three or four, taking the crumbs in the hollow of my hand, I swallowed them like carraway comfits, and feasted myself as heartily as I durst venture.
“When dinner-time came, the curate could not fail of discovering the misfortune that had happened to the bread, which, however, was so well counterfeited that he did not question it had been visited by the rats. See here, Lazarillo, (quoth he) what a destruction has happened last night to my bread.—Lord! What's the matter, sir? quoth I. --The matter! (answered the curate) What should the matter be, but the damned rats and mice, that would eat up the devil!
“ From thence we went to dinner, where, thank God, I had more than double profit; for besides that he gave me twice as much bread as he used to do, I had all the parings about the parts where he thought the mice had been. Never fear, Lazarillo (quoth he) but eat heartily; a mouse is a very cleanly creature. So that that day's portion was increased by the work of my own hands, or rather my own nails.
“We made an end of our dinner, if I may say an end of what I never had well begun. But it was a bloody mortification to me, to see the priest rifle all the walls of the house to get together a parcel of old nails, with the help of which, and some bits of boards, he patched up all the holes, and the very seams of the trunk. Good God (thought I to myself) how uncertain are the greatest pleasures of this laborious life! To how many miseries, calamities, and misfortunes, are we subject! Alas! I thought I had found out a cure for my misfortune in some measure; and now my cruel stars supply my master with proper means to break my heart. I can impute it to nothing else; and if my misfortune were not in the case, I am sure the priest is such a blockhead that he could never, of himself, be master of such inventions.
“While I was employed in making these and the like reflections, the industrious carpenter was mending all the holes, and covering even the seams of the old chest; and when he had done, Come now, if
you dare, Mr. Rat (says the curate, all in a heat) I should desire no better sport! But I think you had better shift elsewhere, for you're like to have but an indifferent time on't here. “ He was no sooner out of the house, than I ran to the
old chest, but to my sorrow found he had not left a hole for a worm to creep through; I opened it, however, though without any hope of bettering myself. At last I spied the loaves my master had cut and pared, believing they had fallen under the fury of the rats, from whence I ventured to take some slices as thick as joiner's shavings.
“ That was such an inconsiderable supply to my hungry paunch, that day and night I thought of nothing else but finding out some means to ease my grief.—Hunger is the mother of invention, and sharpens the wit as much as gluttony drowns it.
“ One night, I was consulting with myself about the fittest method of renewing my assault upon the chest, without discovery. I found, , by his audible snoring, that the priest was fast asleep : up I got, and with an old rusty oyster-knife I kept on purpose for that use, I easily made a passage, big enough for any rat, through a corner of the old, rotten, wormy chest, which I then opened without any noise, and making good large holes in the broken loaves, I swallowed the crumbs, and then ran to my couch to take a little rest, to which my continual fasting had made me a very great stranger; but when I had got a good belly-full, all the king of France's dragoons could not have waked me.
“Next morning the curate, seeing that new disorder, began to swear and storm, and heartily made a present to the Devil of all the rats and mice of Valencia.-What a plague's the matter with them (quoth the angry man of God) that I must be tormented with that damned vermin, and that but of late too! And indeed he was in the right on't, for, upon my honour, there was not in all the province a family that might be better entitled to such an exception than my churlish master's; for the rats are seldom observed to frequent an empty cupboard.
“ To work he fell, and quickly stopt the hole, and I did not fail next night to make another : and thus we went on so long, that the chest had as many pieces in it as a beggar's cloak.
“ At last he began to consider he lost his time in patching such an old rotten piece of household stuff, which being so shattered that a small mouse might easily get through it, he thought, with a little more boring and mending, it would be quite undone. It was death to him to think of laying out three or four crowns for a new one, and therefore, to spare his chest, he was resolved to sacrifice his cruel persecutors, by the help of a mouse-trap which was lent him by one of our neighbours, amongst whom he likewise raised a contribution for crusts of cheese, &c. which putting into the trap, he set it in the trunk.
“ This was a fresh whet to my appetite, which was always sharp enough; but a bit of cheese was a thing that would have made me rob a church to come at it."
His next project is also disconcerted-he is half-murdered and, scarcely able to walk, thrust out of doors. The portraiture of the Squire, his next master, is an admirable full length of a Spanish hidalgo, with no other inheritance than his name and a sword-of pride truckling to a neat's foot. Indeed, it is so complete and finished, that we shall give nearly the whole of it. Hogarth never struck off a more felicitous picture, and we think it partakes of his manner in some of his pieces. In other hands it would have been purely gloomy and miserable ; but here the abstract wretchedness is so redeemed and relieved by the spirit of the author, that we fancy it a positive enjoyment. thou want a master, boy?” said the Squire, a grave and stately person, “ Yes, sir,” answered Lazarillo-" Then follow me,” said the squire, “and surely thou hast said some very efficacious prayer this morning, or art a particular favorite of heaven, since 'tis thy fortune to fall in my way.”—Lazarillo blessed his stars and followed,
“By one o'clock we came to a house where the 'squire halted, and so did I; he then pulled off his cloak, which throwing across his left arm, he pulled a key out of his pocket with his right hand, and opening the door, he went through a dark, narrow, ominous passage, into a little yard, from whence we went into a tolerable apartment. Being come in, he took off his cloak, and looking whether my hands were clean, and finding they were, we softly shook it, which folding up, he blew off the dust from a stone seat, and laying the cloak down there, sat upon it: after which, asking me a great many questions, of the place of my birth, of my past life, and how I came to Toledo, I gave him as short answers as I could, thinking the discourse a little unseasonable before dinner, and being more inclinable to lay the cloth and set the victuals upon the table, than to discourse of such frivolous
“ When I had answered all his questions, lying where it was convenient to give myself any good qualities, and passing slightly over those of the opposite side, he sat a while musing upon his cloak without speaking a word. I stood opposite to him, swallowing my spittle, with my hands in my hat, and looking wistfully on him, as one who would have said, when shall we go to dinner, sir? Two of the clock struck, but no news of any victuals; and he was as immoveable as if he had been stiff.
“On the other hand, the door so fast shut up, the profound silence, the bare walls, and the empty rooms, which, through the lower windows, I could see without beds, hangings, chairs, tables, or even such a poor rotten chest as the old priest's; all this looked very ominous, and made me fancy I was got into a wizard's den.
“The 'squire of a sudden seeming to awake, Hast thon dined, young man? quoth he.—Not I, sir, said I ; you know I have been attending you ever since eight this morning.--For my part, (answered the 'squire) I had breakfasted before, and when I eat in the morning I never can touch a bit of victuals before night; and so thou must shift as well as thou canst till supper.
“ That cruel speech had almost thrown me into the falling-sickness; not so much for my present hunger, as in consideration of the greatness of my misfortune that made me always fall into such hands. All my former miseries came fresh into my mind, and amongst other things, I did not forget the presentiments Ử had of doing worse, when I first entertained any thoughts of leaving the curate. However, dissembling as well as I could, You need not trouble yourself about that, sir, (said I,) for of the humour I am, thank God, eating and drinking goes but little to my heart.—Sobriety is a great virtue in a young man, (interrupted the 'squire) and I shall have the better opinion of thee for it. 'Tis only fit for hogs to delight in filling their bellies, and not for men. I understand ye, thought I to myself: the devil, I think, is in all my masters, or else I can't imagine why they should endeavour to out-do each other in starving me.
“ After this dialogue was over, I drew to a corner of the yard, and began to eat some morsels of bread which had been given me that morning, which the 'squire observing, Come hither, boy, (said he,) what's that thou’rt eating? I went, and shewing him three pieces of bread, he took away the best. Upon my faith (quoth he) this bread seems to be very good.—'Tis too stale and too hard, sir, (said I) to be good.--I swear 'tis very good, said the 'squire. Who gave it thee ? Were their hands clean that baked it ? I took it without asking any questions, sir, (answered I) and you see I eat it as freely.--Pray God
so, says the miserable squire; and so putting the bread to his mouth, he eat it with no less appetite than I did mine, adding at every mouthful, Gadzooks, this bread is excellent !
Observing he went so heartily to work, I thought it convenient to make haste with mine, lest he should have had the civility to help me; and we were both so diligent that we ended our tasks much about a time. After which, gently shaking off the crumbs that stuck upon his clothes, he went into a little sort of a closet, from whence taking out an old earthen pitcher, when he had taken a hearty draught himself, he invited me to do the like. I soberly answered, that I did not care for drinking wine. That's very well, (said the 'squire) but this is water, and so thou may'st drink without any scruple. Then taking the pitcher, I put it to my head as if I had taken a hearty draught; but, God knows, it was not thirst that troubled me most.
“ He passed the remainder of that day in asking me questions, and I in answering them. The evening being come, calling me into the little closet, out of which he had brought the pitcher, Let us make my bed together (said the 'squire that you may know how to make it alone another time.
“ His bed was composed of the anatomy of an old hamper, supported by two broom-sticks half rotten; the sheets were instead of a
mattrass, but confounded black and nasty, and there was but one old blanket: so that, when all the cloaths were on, you could have discerned through them the sticks of the 'squire's bed, as plainly as one may see an old dead horse's ribs.
“ When that was done, Lazarillo (quoth he) 'tis very late, and the market's a great way off; and besides that, you know that this town is full of cut-purses. Let's do as well as we can; the night will soon be over, and to morrow God will provide. Having formerly no servant, I was forced to eat abroad, but it shall not be so any more.—Lord, sir, (said I) don't let that make you uneasy; sure I can shift one night without victuals, or a couple, if there was any occasion for it. So much the better for your health (said the 'squire) for, as I was saying a while ago, you'll live the longer for it, there being nothing in the world so wholesome as eating little.--Hem! thought I, at that rate sure I shall never die! I have always lived very moderately, sir, (said I) and, by the grace of God, I shall always do so.
“ After that he went to bed, making a pillow of his breeches and his waistcoat, folded up together. I lay at his feet, but not a wink of sleep came in my eyes; the sticks in the bed and my sharp bones were continually quarrelling; I had not a pound of flesh on my body, which, by the hunger and other hardships I had suffered, was reduced to a perfect skeleton : and after all that, where is the man that could have slept with such an empty stomach?
“I did nothing all the night over, (God forgive me !) but curse my own destiny; and in the constraint under which I found myself, not so much as to stir, for fear of awaking my master with the noise of the sticks, I begged of God an hundred times to put an end at once to my misery and my life.
" As soon as it was day, we both got up. The 'squire began brushing and cleaning his cloaths, which he afterwards put on at leisure ; and at last coming to his sword, Here is a blade, Lazarillo, (quoth he) that I would not give for all the gold in Christendom; the finest steel is but like a bit of rusty iron in comparison with it. Look ye, (says he, pulling it out of the sheath, and drawing it through his fingers) I could cut a hair in the air with it. And I, thought I to myself, could make a confounded hole in a half-peck loaf with my teeth, though they be neither steel nor iron.
“He put up his sword, and clapping it to his side, with a great string of beads about his neck, his cloak upon his left arm, and his right hand upon his side, a strait body, a stately gait, and a gallant look, away he went; and as he was going, Lazarillo (quoth he) take care of the house while I go to mass, and mean time make the bed and clean the room, and then go fetch our pitcher full of clean water, but take care to lock the door to keep out thieves; and, because I may perhaps come home before you, hang the key upon that nail through the cat-hole. Upon that he went out, and walked with such an air, that one that did not know him, would have taken him for the duke of Arcos, or at least for his first gentleman.
“Well, blessed be God, (said I to myself, seeing him go out) who never sends a disease without a cure! Where is the man, who, seeing