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who (though she was a little swarthy) knew very well how to turn the penny. He said a thousand other things, which I could have dispensed with the hearing of; but after having made me his confidant, he thought he had a right to exact the same condescension of me, and accordingly asked whence I came, whither I was going, and what I was. I was obliged to answer article by article; for he accompanied every question by a profound bow, and begged me to excuse his curiosity with such a respectful air, that I could not refuse to satisfy him in every particular. This engaged me in a long conversation with him, and gave me occasion to mention my design, and the reason I had for disposing of my mule, that I might take the opportunity of a carrier. He approved of my intention, though not in a very succinct manner; for he represented all the troublesome accidents that might befall me on the road; he recounted many dismal stories of travellers; and I began to be afraid he would never have done. He concluded at length however with telling me, that if I had a mind to sell my mule, he was acquainted with a very honest jockey who would buy her. I assured him he would oblige me in sending for him; upon which he went in quest of him immediately with great eagerness. It was not long before he returned with his man, whom he introduced to me as a person of exceeding honesty, and we went into the yard all together, where my mule was produced, and passed and repassed before the jockey, who examined her from head to foot, and did not fail to speak very disadvantageously of her. I own there was not much to be said in her praise ; but, however, had it been the pope's mule, he would have found some defects in her. He assured me, that she had all the defects a mule could have; and to convince me of his veracity, appealed to the landlord, who, doubtless, had his reasons for supporting his friend's assertions.
“ Well," said the dealer with an air of indifference," how much money do you expect for this wretched animal ?" After the eulogium he had bestowed on her, and the attestation of Signior Corcuelo, whom I believed to be a man of honesty and understanding, I would have given my mule for nothing; and therefore told him I would rely on his integrity; bidding him appraise the beast in his own conscience, and I would stand to the valuation. Upon this he assumed the man of honour; and replied, that in engaging his conscience I took him on the weak side. In good sooth, that did not seem to be his strong side; for instead of valuing her at ten or twelve pistoles, as my uncle had done, he fixed the price at three ducats; which I accepted with as much joy as if I had made an excellent bargain.
After having so advantageously disposed of my mule, the landlord conducted me to a carrier, who was to set out the next day for Astorga. This muleteer let me know that he should set out by day-break, and promised to awake me in time, after we had agreed upon the price, as well for the hire of a mule, as my board on the road; and when everything was settled between us, I returned to the inn with Corcuelo, who, by the way, began to recount the carrier's history. He told me every circumstance of his character in town; in short, was going to stupify me again with his intolerable loquacity, when, luckily for me, a man of pretty good appearance prevented my misfortune, by accosting him with great civility. I left them together, and went on, without suspecting that I had the least concern in their conversation
When I arrived at the inn, I called for supper; and it being a meagre day, was fain to put up
which while they got ready, I made up to my landlady, whom I
with eggs ;
had not seen before. She appeared handsome enough; and withal so sprightly and gay, that I should have concluded (even if her husband had not told me so) that her house was pretty well frequented. When the omelet I had bespoken was ready, I sat down to table by myself; and had not yet swallowed the first mouthful, when the landlord came in, followed by the man who had stopt him in the street. This cavalier, who wore a long sword, and seemed to be about thirty years of age, advanced towards me with an eager air, saying, “ Mr. Student, I am informed that you are that Signior -Gil Blas of Santillane, who is the link of philosophy, and ornament of Oviedo ! Is it possible that you are that mirror of learning, that sublime genius, whose reputation is so great in this country? You know not," continued he, addressing himself to the innkeeper and his wife," you know not what you possess! You have a treasure in your
house! Behold in this young gentleman, the eighth wonder of the world!" Then turning to me, and throwing his arms about my neck, “ Forgive," cried he, “my transports! I cannot contain the joy that your presence creates."
I could not answer for some time, because he locked me so close in his arms, that I was almost suffocated for want of breath; and it was not till I had disengaged my head from his embrace, that I replied “Signior Cavalier, I did not think my name was known at Penaflor.”
“ How ! known !" resumed he in his former strain, we keep a register of all the celebrated names within twenty leagues of
You in particular are looked upon as a prodigy; and I don't at all doubt, that Spain will one day be as proud of
eece was of her Seven Sages.” These words were followed by a fresh hug, which I was forced to endure, though at the risk of strangulation. With the little experience I had, I ought not to have been the dupe of his pro
fessions and hyperbolical compliments. I ought to have known, by his extravagant flattery, that he was one of those parasites which abound in every town, and who, when a stranger arrives, introduce themselves to him, in order to fill their bellies at his expense. But my youth and vanity made me judge otherwise. My admirer appeared to me so much of a gentleman, that I invited him to take a share of my supper. “Ah, with all my soul,” cried he; “I am too much obliged to my kind stars for having thrown me in the way of the illustrious Gil Blas, not to enjoy my good fortune as long as I can! I have no great appetite,” pursued he, “but I will sit down to bear you company, and eat a mouthful purely out of complaisance."
So saying, my panegyrist took his place right over against me; and a cover being laid for him, attacked the omelet as voraciously as if he had fasted three whole days. By his complaisant beginning I foresaw that our dish would not last long; and therefore ordered a second ; which they dressed with such dispatch, that it was served just as weor rather he—had made an end of the first. He proceeded on this with the same vigour; and found means, without losing one stroke of his teeth, to overwhelm me with praises during the whole repast, which made me very well pleased with my sweet self. He drank in proportion to his eating; sometimes to my health, sometimes to that of my father and mother, whose happiness in having such a son as me he could not enough admire. All the while he plied me with wine, and insisted upon my doing him justice, while I toasted health for health; a circumstance which, together with his intoxicating flattery, put me into such good humour, that seeing our second omelet half devoured, I asked the landlord if he had no fish in the house. Signior Corcuelo, who in all likelihood had a fellow-feeling with the parasite, replied, “I have a delicate trout; but those who eat it must pay for the sauce ;—'tis a bit too dainty for your palate, I doubt.” “What do you call too dainty ?" said the sycophant, raising his voice;'" you're a wiseacre, indeed! Know, that there is nothing in this house too good for Signior Gil Blas de Santillane, who deserves to be entertained like a prince.”
I was pleased at his laying hold of the landlord's last words, in which he prevented me; who finding myself offended, said with an air of disdain, " Produce this trout of yours, Gaffer Corcuelo, and give yourself no trouble about the consequence." This was what the innkeeper wanted. He got it ready, and served it up in a trice. At sight of this new dish, I could perceive the parasite's eye sparkle with joy; and he renewed that complaisance - I mean for the fish — which he had already shown for the eggs. At last, however, he was obliged to give out, for fear of accident, being crammed to the very throat. Having, therefore, eaten and drank his bellyfull, he thought proper to conclude the farce, by rising from table, and accosting me in these words :-“ Signior Gil Blas, I am too well satisfied with your good cheer, to leave you without offering an important advice, which you seem to have great occasion for. Henceforth beware of praise, and be upon your guard against everybody you do not know. You may meet with other people inclined to divert themselves with your credulity, and perhaps to push things still further; but don't be duped again, nor believe yourself (though they should swear it) the eighth wonder of the world.” So saying, he laughed in my face, and stalked away.
I was as much affected by this bite as I have since been by misfortunes of far greater consequence. I could not forgive myself for having been so grossly imposed upon; or