Letters

第154章 4th March,1839(2)

At the expiration of three quarters of an hour they again appeared,and conducted him to the house of the curate,where they sat down in conclave,the curate who was a man stone-blind being president,whilst the sacristan officiated as secretary.The surgeon having stated his accusation against the prisoner,namely,that he had detected him in the fact of selling a version of the Scriptures in the vulgar tongue,the curate proceeded to examine Vitoriano,asking him his name and place of residence -to which he replied that his name was Vitoriano Lopez,and that he was a native of Villa Seca in the Sagra of Toledo.The curate then demanded what religion he professed,and whether he was a Mahometan or freemason,and received for answer that he was a Roman Catholic.I must here state that Vitoriano,though sufficiently shrewd in his way,is a poor old labourer of sixty-four,and until that moment had never heard of Mahometans or freemasons.The curate becoming now incensed,called him a TUNANTE or scoundrel,and added,'You have sold your soul to a heretic;we have long been aware of your proceedings,and those of your master.You are the same Lopez,whom he last year rescued from the prison of Villallos,in the province of Avila.I sincerely hope that he will attempt to do the same thing here.''Yes,yes,'shouted the rest of the conclave,'let him but venture here,and we will shed his heart's blood on our stones.'In this manner they went on for nearly half-an-hour;at last they broke up the meeting and conducted Vitoriano once more to his prison.

During his confinement he lived tolerably well,being in possession of money;his meals were sent him twice a day from the POSADA,where his pony remained in embargo.Once or twice he asked permission of the ALCALDE,who visited him every night and morning with his armed guard,to purchase pen and paper,in order that he might write to Madrid;but this favour was peremptorily refused him,and all the inhabitants of the village were forbidden under terrible penalties to afford him the means of writing,or to convey any message from him beyond the precincts of the place,and two boys were stationed before the window of his cell for the purpose of watching everything which might be conveyed to him.It happened one day that Vitoriano,being in need of a pillow for his head,sent word to the people of the POSADA to send him his ALFORJAS or saddle-bags,which they did.In these bags there chanced to be a kind of rope or,as it is called in Spanish,SOGA,with which he was in the habit of fastening his satchel to the pony's back.The urchins seeing an end of this rope hanging from the ALFORJASinstantly ran to the ALCALDE to give him information.Late at evening the ALCALDE again visited the prisoner,at the head of his twelve men as usual.'BUENAS NOCHES,'said the ALCALDE.'BUENASNOCHES TENGA USTED,'replied Vitoriano.'For what purpose did you send for the SOGA this afternoon?'demanded the functionary.'Isent for no SOGA,'said the prisoner,'I sent for my ALFORJAS to serve as a pillow,and it was sent in them by chance.''Thou art a false malicious knave,'retorted the ALCALDE,'you intend to hang yourself,and by so doing ruin us all,as your death would be laid to our door.Give me the SOGA.'No greater insult can be offered to a Spaniard,than to tax him with an intention of committing suicide.Poor Vitoriano flew into a violent rage,and after calling the ALCALDE several uncivil names,he pulled the SOGA from his bags,and flinging it at his head,told him to take it home and use it for his own neck.

At length the people of the POSADA took pity on the prisoner,perceiving that he was very harshly treated for no crime at all.

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