Page images

came to her relief, and how fine a boy I ushered into the world, which would have been lost but for my assistance, I am sure I should not be condemned for a few hasty words spoke in passion.'

• Sirrah?' cried one of the puisny judges, respect the decency of the court.'

• Produce the contents of this fellow's pockets before the court,' said the president, ó lay them on the table.'

Monster,' resumed the aforesaid puisný judge, taking up the forceps, 'what is the use of this diabolical machine?'

* Please your reverence,' replied Pedrosa, aptum est ad extrahendos fætus.' – Unnatural wretch,' again exclaimed the judge, you have murdered the mother.'

• The mother of God forbid !’exclaimed Pedrosa,

I believe I have a proof in my pocket, that will acquit me of that charge;' and so saying, he tendered the letter we have before made mention of: the secretary took it, and by command of the court read as follows:

• Senor Don Manuel de Herrera, • When this letter, which I send by Nicolas Peç drosa, shall reach your hands, you shall know that I am safely delivered of a lovely boy after a dangerous labour, in consideration of which I pray you to pay to the said Nicolas Pedrosa the sum of twenty gold pistoles, which sum his excellency'

• Hold !' cried the inquisidor general, starting hastily from his seat, and snatching away the letter,

there is more in this than meets the eye: break up the court; I must take an examination of this prisoner in private.'

[ocr errors][ocr errors]


As soon as the room was cleared, the inquisidor gea neral beckoning to the prisoner to follow him, retired into a private closet, where throwing himself carelessly in an arm chair, he turned a gracious countenance upon the poor affrighted accoucheur, and bidding him sit down upon a low stool by his side, thus accosted him: Take heart, senor Pe. drosa, your imprisonment is not likely to be very te dious, for I have a commission you must execute without loss of time: you have too much consideration for yourself to betray a trust, the violation of which must involve you in inevitable ruin, and can in no degree attaint my character, which is far enough beyond the reach of malice: be attentive therefore to my orders; execute them punctually, and keep my secret as you tender your own life : dost thou know the name and condition of the lady, whom thou hast delivered?' Nicolas assured him he did not, and his excellency proceeded as follows

- Then I tell thee, Nicolas, it is the illustrious Donna Leonora de Casafonda ; her husband is the president of Quito, and daily expected with the next arrivals from the South Seas; now, though measures have been taken for detaining him at the port, wherever he shall land, till he shall receive further orders, yet you must be sensible Donna Leonora's situation is somewhat delicate : it will be your business to take the speediest measures for her recovery, but as it seems she has had a dangerous and painful labour, this may be a work of more

time than could be wished, unless some medicines more efficacious than common are administered : art thou acquainted with any such, friend Nicolas ?'

- So please your excellency,' quoth Nicolas, my processes have been tolerably successful; I have bandages and cataplasms with oils and conserves, that I have no cause to complain of : they will restore nature to its proper state in all decent time.' • Thou talkest like a fool, friend Nicolas,' interrupting him, said the inquisidor; . What tellest thou me of thy swathings and swadlings ? quick work must be wrought by quick medicines : Hast thou none such in thy botica ? I'll answer for it thou hast not; therefore look you, sirrah, here is a little vial compounded by a famous chymist; see that you mix it in the next apozem you administer to Donna Leonora; it is the most capital sedative in nature; give her the whole of it, and let her husband return when he will, depend upon it he will make no discoveries from her.'— Humph!'. quoth Nicolas within himself, · Well said, inquisidor!' He took the vial with all possible respect, and was not wanting in professions of the most inviolable fidelity and secrecyNo more words, friend Nicolas,' quoth the inquisidor, upon that score ; I do not believe thee one jot the more for all thy promises ; my dependence is upon thy fears and not thy faith ; I fancy thou hast seen enough of this place not to be willing to return to it once for all.'-Having so said, he rang a bell, and ordered Nicolas to be forthwith liberated, bidding the messenger return his clothes instantly to him with all that belonged to him, and having slipped a purse into his hand well filled with doubloons, he bade him begone about his business, and not see his face again till he had executed his commands.

Nicolas boulted out of the porch without taking leave of the altar, and never checked his speed till he found himself fairly housed under shelter of his own beloved brass basin.- Aha!' quoth Nicolas, ' my lord inquisidor, I see the king is not likely to gain a subject more by your intrigues : a pretty job you have set me about; and so, when I have put the poor lady to rest with your damned sedative, my tongue must be stopt next to prevent its blabbing : but I'll show


1 was not born in Andalusia for nothing.' Nicolas now opened a secret drawer and took out a few pieces of money, which in fact was his whole stock of cash in the world ; he loaded and primed his pistols, and carefully lodged them in the housers of his saddle, he buckled to his side his trusty spada, and hastened to caparison his mule. * Ah, thou imp of the old one,' quoth he as he entered the stable, art not ashamed to look me in the face ?' But come, hussey, thou owest me a good turn methinks, stand by me this once, and be friends for ever! thou art in good case, and if thou wilt put thy best foot foremost, like a faithful beast, thou shalt not want for barley by the way.' The bargain was soon struck betwçen Nicolas and his mule, he mounted her in the happy moment, and pointing his course towards the bridge of Toledo, which proudly strides with half a dozen lofty arches over a stream scarce three feet wide, he found him. self as completely in a desart in half a mile's riding, as if he had been dropt in the center of Arabia petræa. As Nicolas's journey was not a tour of curiosity, he did not amuse himself with a

at Toledo, or Talavera, or even Merida by the way : for the same reason he took a circumbendibus round the frontier town of Badajoz, and crossing a little brook refreshed his mule with the last draught of Spanish water, and instantly congratulated himself upon entering the territory of Portugal, Brava!'


quoth he, patting the neck of his mule, thou shalt have a supper this night of the best sieve-meat that Estramadura can furnish : we are now in a country where the scattered flock of Israel fold thick and fare well.' He now began to chaunt the song

of Solomon, and gently ambled on in the joy of his heart.

When Nicolas at length reached the city of Lisbon, he hugged himself in his good fortune; still he recollected that the inquisition has long arms, and he was yet in a place of no perfect security. Our adventurer had in early life acted as assistant surgeon in a Spanish frigate bound to Buenos Ayres, and being captured by a British man of war, and carried into Jamaica, had very quietly passed some years in that place as journeyman apothecary, in which time he had acquired a tolerable acquaintance with the English language : no sooner then did he discover the British ensign flying on the poop of an English frigate then lying in the Tagus, than he eagerly caught the opportunity of paying a visit to the surgeon, and finding he was in want of a mate, offered himself, and was entered in that

сараcity for a cruize against the French and Spaniards, with whom Great Britain was then at 'war. In this secure asylum Nicolas enjoyed the first happy moments he had experienced for a long time past, and being a lively good-humoured little fellow, and one that touched the guitar and sung sequidillas with a tolerable grace, he soon recommended himself to his ship-mates, and grew in favour with every body on board from the captain to the cook's mate.

When they were out upon their cruise hovering on the Spanish coast, it occurred to Nicolas that the inquisidor general at Madrid had told him of the expected arrival of the president of Quito, and having

« PreviousContinue »