Page images

menacing attitude, I shouted, “Mantez, by G-d I must, and will have that dog! Men, pull on board."

The boats, at this moment, were almost clear of each other, when Jugurtha, the moment I spoke, with a savage shriek of joy, reached over, and seized hold of the gunnel of that in which was the commander. Mantez also started up in an ungovernable rage, and, as well as he could, from the multiplicity of his oaths, ordered the men in our boat to put us on shore immediately. This, however, could not be done by the crew, whilst the negro grappled so firmly with the bow of Mantez's own boat. The confusion in both boats was very great. Isidora leaned back in a state almost of insensibility, and Julien was vainly employed in attempts to make me sit down. The crews of both the barge and cutter, imitating their commander, began to swear also, and then was the contention of voices, the splashing of oars, and the vociferating of contradictory orders by every one.

Jugurtha, however, held on, and thus both boats drifted astern, directly under the windows of the cabin, the boat that contained myself and friends still being the outermost.

Mantez must have been dreadfully enraged indeed, for he actually took his cigar out of his mouth, in order to enunciate his curses the more emphatically. We had not thus drifted many yards astern of the vessel, than, remembering the uncommon strength of the dog, I cried out at the top of my voice, “Bounder ! Bounder ! here, boy ! here!"

I had hardly finished my call, when I beheld the faithful animal, like a flying griffin, with his iron chain trailing behind him, darting through the window-sashes of the cabin, the glass spinning in all directions, and in consequence of the height, and the projectile force that he had given himself in the leap, he came into the water with a tremendous splash, close to the quarter of the boat where Captain Mantez was still standing, and passionately swearing; and before he had time to recover from the effects of this sudden shower-bath, Bounder was in the boat, and, overthrowing the impediment to get at me, the captain was crushed down in the stern sheets, drowned with water from the saturated hair of the dog, and the chain dragged ruthlessly over his face, blooding his nose and blackening his eyes. With another spring, which he took from the face of the prostrate commander, he was in the boat, and at my feet, lavishing upon me every token of rapture.

At this Jugurtha gave his shrill, metallic-sounding shriek of triumph, and letting go his hold of the other boat, clapped his hands for very pleasure. At the sudden fall of the captain, the crews of both boats indulged in a prolonged shout of merriment, which was more than half derision, and the boats were some distance asunder before Mantez arose, and displayed his countenance, covered with blood. He spoke not. Looking at me fixedly, he clenched the fist of his right hand, and then extending his thumb, he pointed it, with several jerks, significantly downwards.

« Ardent Troughton," said Julien, “ that man will assassinate you." “Never fear, Julien, I will be on my guard."

Just then, so pleased was I with my triumph, that I cared for nothing. However, no sooner did my feet again touch the Spanish soil, than more serious ideas occupied my every thought. Without any mutual explanation, instead of endeavouring to find our respective homes, we went to the English hotel; and in what foreign town of note is there not one that rejoices in that denomination ?

After Julien had seen his luggage, that the boat's crew had brought from the boat, safely stowed away, and that Donna Isidora had retired to make some repairs in her toilette, for Bounder, in his joy, had wetted us all thoroughly, we debated long and anxiously upon my future proceedings. What was the result of these deliberations, the sequel of this auto-biography will show.

Shortly after our arrival at the English hotel, and when I had just got Jugurtha and Bounder properly housed-indeed, I may say concealed--a lumbering, heavy, and gilded vehicle, drawn by five mules, drove up to the door, and a solemn, though kindly-looking old gentleman alighted. Of course, I was too wise to make my appearance, seeing that I was so shortly to shake off my dignified titles. However, I had a good view of the Don from the window. In about half an hour he drove away, taking with him Isidora and the old female cousin of many removes, who had attended her on ship-board, and served her at once as a companion and scandal-scarer.

“ That old noble,” said Julien,“ who has just taken my cousin home with him, is named Don Manuel Alvazez, and is maternal uncle to us both. You know that we are orphans. Isidora has, like most of the daughters of the improvident hidalgos of this distracted country, no fortune whatever ; what little remained of her father's patrimonial estates, her two brothers have long dissipated. And I, Julien, excepting a few small bags of doubloons, am no better off

. I learn from my uncle, that our French king of Spain, Joseph, has not only seized my hereditary and only estate in Old Castile, but has actually given it to one of his generals. Spain is now no country for me."

“ Why, dear Julien, did you not accompany your cousin to your uncle's ?"

“What! and leave you here! I informed him that a friend of mine, a fellow passenger, expected a cartel from Captain Mantez, and that, in honour, I was bound to see you through the affair.”

I could only reiterate my sense of the many obligations by which he had bound me to him. We spent the day together at the inn, and Mantez, though he must have known from his boat's crew where we were, sent no challenge.

As the evening approached, I entreated Julien to leave me, asking him only to lend me the most quiet suit of plain clothes that he possessed. I well knew that he was languishing for the company of his beautiful cousin, and I pointed out to him that I could not long support the fictitious character that he had caused me, so unintentionally on my part, to assume.

“ You know, Julien,” I continued, “ that I will not go to my father's until I can prove to him that I am my father's son.”

“ Well, Ardent,” was his kind reply, “ I know that in all this you will act with that solidity of judgment that you possess. Come with me to my bed-room that I may take leave of Don Ardentizabello de Trompe Hilla."

I was soon attired in a well-fitting suit of sables. The heavy black whiskers were shaved away, the fierce mustachios and the favori disappeared, and involving my neck in a white handkerchief, I was again almost disguised. In the meek civilian that stood before him, Julien could no longer recognize the militaire, bearded like the pard.

“ I can now,” said he laughing, "well understand why you were once called Quiet Troughton. You appear as calm and as thoughtful as a stoic philosopher. I am sure, without they look steadily into your face, none of the crews of the ship from which you landed, not even Mantez, would recognize you. But we must furnish so respectable a person with pocket-money. Here, take this bag of doubloons : it is a small one truly, but it will last you until you are recognised by your father."

“ We will not mar," said I, “ the tranquillity of our perfect friendship by any great pecuniary obligation. I will take ten only of these : it is enough—not another word—I will give you an order for them on the house of Falcke and Co. in Lothbury. But you must permit me to ante-date it-there--I assure you that it is negotiable.”

“I take your security, Ardent, only in order that I may relieve your mind. But it strikes me, that as you have told me that you have been in the habit of corresponding, at intervals, with your family, that you might identify yourself to your father by means of your autograph, which, I see, is by no means a bad one, and decidedly English."

“No, I cannot take this step. I cannot submit myself to the crossexamination that a wary merchant might deem necessary; and when at length I had struck a balance in my favour, to use the language of the ledger, to be acknowledged doubtingly, and perhaps treated with caution until some person shall come, or circumstance transpire, to verify my ipse dixit. Now, Julien, the only favour that at present I ask of you is, to tell the people in the house that the military officer, his man, and dog, have suddenly and privately departed for Madrid, and to stay here just one half hour after I have taken my departure. Give me your address. I will not fail to acquaint you at the earliest opportunity of my whereabouts.”

After this, I immediately went out, and purchased for Jugurtha a seaman's jacket and trowsers, and having returned and equipped him in them, we both went and made our adieux to Don Julien." I then cautioned the negro fully as to his conduct, forbidding him, on any account, to rove about the streets, and to take care to keep, for the present, Bounder in-doors with him. Having waited till it was tolerably dark, we went forth in search of another inn. This we soon found; and having, with much difficulty, procured two dark, private rooms, one for myself, and the other for my attendant, and ordering supper at nine o'clock, I was determined again to change my habiliments.

As I sate at the window of the hotel where we first alighted, which was situated in the principal street of the town—a noble one, certainly, of more than a mile long, broad, and handsome, and ornamented with a row of tall poplars on either side--as I sate at this window, when towards evening the inhabitants began to emerge from their dwellings, I observed many groups of young men in very tattered and muchpatched long, dark cloaks, and large, battered cocked-hats. Their appearance was decidedly clerical, and this was increased by their nót hesitating to beg of the better-dressed persons whom they met. These cloaked gentry, Julien informed me, were students from the University of Valencia, who had begged their way from their college, to enjoy, during the heats of summer, the cooler atmosphere of the sea-washed Barcelona. I had an excellent view of many of these future lawyers and doctors, for, in this street, the middle of the road is appropriated as a lounge for foot-passengers, whilst the carriages passed to and fro on both sides close to the houses.

As one of these students, I determined to disguise myself. Sallying out from my inn, I had not wandered far, before I came to a frippier's, and was soon accommodated with a cloak and hat, at a very small disbursement indeed. I then purchased the ample Spanish national cloak, and returned to the inn, supped, and slept.

The whole of the next day I occupied, dressed as a student, in perambulating the town, looking into the various churches, threading its narrow, though clean streets, and in vainly endeavouring to recall to my recollection some spot that had been familiar to my childhood, One circumstance gave me a little uneasiness; I made several inquiries for the abode of the English merchant, Signior Troughton; but none either knew it, or the name. This did not, however, long prey upon my mind, though I should have felt a deep satisfaction in gazing even upon the walls that contained my father, my mother, and my sister Honoria ; upon all of whom my fancy had been strangely at work.

In these wanderings I occupied the morning, and at two o'clock I went and dined at the Mesa Redonda of the first hotel of the place. Little as I care for these things, I found the dinner ample, good, and various, and the company very promiscuous. There I learnt all the rumours of the day, among which the retreat of Sir John Moore, and the asserted advance of another body of French forces upon Catalonia. Every one spoke cautiously, excepting those who were decidedly of the French party. They indeed were clamorous enough. I listened to, and treasured up, everything I heard. In the afternoon I visited the public walk, which was crowded to excess ; and this was the first time that I had a fair opportunity of scrutinizing the Spanish ladies, arrayed in their graceful national dress. They certainly made a most pleasing impression upon me; and, though they were all attired so nearly alike, that they might have been mustered into a goodly regiment, I asked for no variety to break the uniformity. This costume consisted, at that time, of a plain black silk gown, sitting tightly to the figure, and wondrous and wisely short in the skirts --for the Spanish soil is trod by feet, and beautified by ancles, that would adorn the courts of heaven—and the coquettish and aggravating mantilla, falling gracefully over the head, now partially veiling an eye that would, however, still dart its fire through the meshes of the dark lace, and now setting off the pure and transparent brown of the throat of some, or contrasting with the delicate whiteness of the skin of others. When you add to this, that each lady bore in her small hand a fan, that seemed really to be the legitimate wand of the graces, now languidly opened, coquetting with the zephyrs, now closed with a sharp report, as if awakening allegiance of love to a fresh sense of its duty, now waving away from the presence a bore or a pesado, now beckoning around the lovely owner the modest youths, who waited only for the gracious signal to come and pay their adorations, in the soft utterance of their “ pasiega senoras."

As the Spanish lechugina can do anything with her fan but cool herself, she generally employs it in the warming of others. Then the walk of these

senoritas ! How in heaven do they manage it? Talk about dancing as being the poetry of motion--what poetry? Perhaps an artiste, who lives on the toes and heels of his fellow creatures, will tell you that in the epic is represented the stately minuetin the ode, with its strophes and antistrophes, is figured out the quadrille, with its variations and sets--that the Bacchanalian song is nothing more than a Scotch reel set to words that a tender anacreontic is only a bad imitation of the valse—and that there is no poetry in the world that can adequately express the energy of an Irish jig, with the exception of the mad lyrics of some modern whiskey-drinking Pindar. Yes, we may grant that dancing is the poetry of motion ; but the walk of a true Spanish lady is something more. Old father Earth must be in ecstacies at having such sweet little pit-a-pattings soothing his aged bosom, when the Spanish donnas condescend to walk upon it.

I looked upon my countrywomen, and grew proud. But this monotony of costume did not extend to the male portion of the promenaders. There was the stout and tall Catalonian, with his gay and variously-ornamented jacket, with his lawless gait, and his mountaineer look : his wide and loose trowsers bound to his waist with his red sash, from which emerged the haft of his cuchillo, (dagger-knife,) to every male Spaniard as necessary as the fan to the lady. Nor did the long white cap, hanging half-way down the back, outré as is the article itself, alter or deteriorate from his picturesque and martial appearance. Crossing him with a haughty stare, or passing him with an ambitious stride, appeared the swarthy Andalusian, even more gay, and a great deal more refined. Not so tall, nor so broad as the Catalonian, his slender and graceful figure seemed formed only of layers of muscles. Evidently of Moorish origin, his bushy whiskers, black as the darkest shades in the raven's wing, add a graceful terror to his darkling features. The Andalusian is, with all this ferocity of appearance, decidedly a beau. He is attired point devise nothing like carelessness in any part of his equipment. You can discover no flaw-no soil in his light and small jacket, not a particle of grease or dust in his tonnish-looking figured hat; whilst his breeches and gaiters, wrought all over with curious figures, seem, so closely do they fit him, as nothing more than an ouside and elegantly-tatooed skin.

But this superfluity of gaiety, and lavish expenditure of colours, were strongly contrasted by the primitive simplicity of the Valentian peasant, that actually, sans culottes, passed, unconscious of a blush, among the brilliant knots of Barcelonian fashion. The honest man

« PreviousContinue »