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was out of sight in a moment. 6 All the devils in hell blow fire into thy tail, thou beast of Babylon,' muttered Nicolas to himself as he scampered along, never once looking behind him or stopping to apologize for the mischief he had done to the bare feet and shirtless ribs of the holy brotherhood.
Whether Nicolas saved his distance, as likewise, if he did, whether it was a male or female Castilian he ushered into the world, we will not just now inquire, contented to wait his return in the first of the morning next day, when he had no sooner dismounted at his shop and delivered his mule to a sturdy Arragonese wench, than Don Ignacio de Santos Aparicio, alguazil mayor of the supreme and general inquisition, put an order into his hand, signed and sealed by the inquisidor general, for the conveying his body to the Casa, whose formidable door presents itself in the street adjoining to the square in which Nicolas's brazen basin hung forth the emblem of his trade.
The poor little fellow, trembling in every joint, and with a face as yellow as saffron, dropt a knee to the altar, which fronts the entrance, and crossed himself most devoutly, as soon as he had ascended the first fight of stairs, a porter habited in black opened the tremendous barricade, and Nicolas with horror heard the grating of the heavy bolts that shut him in. He was led through passages and vaults, and melancholy cells, till he was delivered into the dungeon, where he was finally left to his solitary meditations. Hapless being! what a scene of hor
Nicolas felt all the terrors of his condition, but being an Andalusian, and like his countrymen of a lively imagination, he began to turn over all the resources of his invention for some happy fetch, if any such might occur, for helping him out of the dismal limbo he was in: he was not long to seek for the in a poor
cause of his misfortune: his adventure with the barefooted friars was a ready solution of all difficulties of that nature, had there been any; there was however another thing, which might have troubled a stouter heart than Nicolas's-He was a Jew.This of a certain would have been a staggering item
's confession, but then it was a secret to all the world but Nicolas, and Nicolas's conscience did not just then urge him to reveal it: he now began to overhaul the inventory of his personals about him, and with some satisfaction counted three little medals of the Blessed Virgin, two Agnus Deis, a Saint Nicolas de Tolentino, and a formidable string of beads all pendant from his neck and within his shirt; in his pockets he had a paper of dried figs, a small bundle of segaras, a case of lancets, squirt and forceps, and two old razors in a leathern envelope; these he had delivered one by one to the alguazil, who first arrested him,- and let him make the most of them,' said he to himself, they can never prove me an Israelite by a case of razors." - Upon a closer rummage however he discovered in a secret pocket a letter, which the alguazil had overlooked, and which his patient Donna Leonora de Casafonda had given him in charge to deliver as directed- Well, well,' cried he, let it pass; there can be no mystery in this harmless scrawl; a letter of advice to some friend or relation, I'll not break the seal; let the fathers read it, if they like, 'twill prove the truth of my deposition, and help out my excuse for the hurry of my errand, and the unfore tunate adventure of my damned refractory mule.'And now no sooner had the recollection of the
wayward mule crossed the brain of poor Nicolas Pedrosa, than he began to blast her at a furious rate, - The scratches and the scab to boot confound thy scurvy hide,' quoth he, thou ass-begotten bastard, whom Noah never let into his ark! The vengeance take thee for an uncreated barren beast of promiscuous generation! What devil's crotchet got into thy capricious noddle, that thou shouldst fall in love with that Nazaritish bell, and run bellowing like Lucifer into the midst of those barefooted vermin, who are more malicious and more greedy than the locusts of Egypt? Oh! that I had the art of Simon Magus to conjure thee into this dungeon in my stead; but I warrant thou art chewing thy barley straw without any pity for thy wretched master, whom thy jade's tricks have delivered bodily to the tormentors, to be the sport of these uncircumcised sons of Dagon.' And now the cell door opened, when a savage figure entered, carrying a huge parcel of clanking fetters, with a collar of iron, which he put round the neck of poor Pedrosa, telling him with a truly diabolic grin, whilst he was rivetting it on, that it was a proper cravat for the throat of a blasphemer.-Jesu-Maria,' quoth Pedrosa, is all this fallen upon me for only cudgelling a restive mule?? • Aye,' cried the demon, and this is only a taste of what is to come,' at the same time slipping his pincers from the screw he was forcing to the head, he caught a piece of flesh in the forceps and wrenched it out of his cheek, laughing at poor Nicolas, whilst he roared aloud with the pain, telling him it was a just reward for the torture he had put him to awhile ago, when he tugged at a tooth, till he broke it in his jaw. • Ah, for the love of Heaven,' cried Pedrosa, ‘have more pity on me ; for the sake of Saint Nicolas de Tolentino, my holy patron, be not so unmerciful to a poor barber-surgeon, and I will shave your worship's beard for nothing as long as I have life. One of the messengers of the auditory now came in, and bade the fellow strike off the prisoner's fetters, for that the holy fathers were in council and
demanded him for examination. This is something extraordinary,' quoth the tormentor,' I should not have expected it this twelvemonth to come.' Pedrosa's fetters were struck off ; some brandy was applied to staunch the bleeding of his cheeks ; his hands and face were washed, and a short jacket of coarse ticking thrown over him, and the messenger with an assistant taking him each under an arm led him into a spacious chamber, where at the head of a long table sate his excellency the inquisidor general with six of his assessors, three on each side the chair of state : the alguazil mayor, a secretary and two notaries, with other officers of the holy council, were attending in their places.
The prisoner was placed behind a bar at the foot of the table between the messengers who brought him in, and having made his obeisance to the awful presence in the most supplicating manner, he was called upon according to the usual form of questions by one of the junior judges to declare his name, parentage, profession, age, place of abode, and to answer various interrogatories of the like trifling nature: his excellency the inquisidor general now opened his reverend lips, and in a solemn tone of voice, that penetrated to the heart of the poor trembling prisoner, interrogated him as follows
• Nicolas Pedrosa, we have listened to the account you give of yourself, your business and connections, now tell us for what offence, or offences, you are here standing a prisoner before us: examine your own heart, and speak the truth from your conscience without prevarication or disguise. May it please your excellency,' replied Pedrosa, 'with all due submission to your holiness and this reverend assembly, my most equitable judges, I conceive I stand here before you for no worse a crime, than that of cudgelling a refractory mule; an animal so
restive in its nature, (under correction of your holiness be it spoken) that although I were blest with the forbearance of holy Job, (for like hiin too I am married and my patience hath been exercised by a wife) yet could I not forbear to smite my beast for her obstinacy, and the rather because I was summoned in the way of my profession, as I have already made known to your most merciful ears, upon a certain crying occasion, which would not admit of a moment's delay.'
• Recollect yourself, Nicolas,' said his Excellency the inquisidor general, 'was there nothing else you did, save smiting your beast?'
"I take saint Nicolas de Tolentino to witness,' replied he, that I know of no other crime, for which I can be responsible at this righteous tribunal, save smiting my unruly beast.'
• Take notice, brethren,' exclaimed the inquisidor, this unholy wretch holds trampling over friars to be no crime.'
• Pardon me, holy father,' replied Nicolas, I hold it for the worst of crimes, and therefore wil. lingly surrender my refractory mule to be dealt with as you see fit, and if you impale her alive it will not be more than she deserves.'
• Your wits are too nimble, Nicolas,' cried the judge ;' have a care they do not run away with your discretion : recollect the blasphemies you uttered in the hearing of those pious people.'
• I humbly pray your excellency,' answered the prisoner, “ to recollect that anger is a short madness, and I hope allowances will be made by your holy council for words spoke in haste to a rebellious mule: the prophet Balaam was thrown off his guard with a simple ass, and what is an ass compared to a mule: if your excellency had seen the lovely creature that was screaming in an agony till I