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We took up our abode at the Posada de la Mesangería; a particularly comfortable house, as Spanish inns go, that had been opened for the accommodation of the diligence travellers since my former visit to the city. The patio, ornamented with a bubbling fountain of icycold water, and shaded with a profusion of all sorts of rare creepers and flowering shrubs, afforded a cool retreat at all hours of the day; which, though we were in the month of October, was very acceptable.

Whilst seated at breakfast, under the colonnade that encompasses the court, the morning after our arrival, the master of the inn waited upon us to know if we required a valet de place during our sojourn at Cordoba, as a very intelligent old man, who spoke French like a native, and was in the habit of attending upon caballeros forasteros* in the above-named capacity, was then in the house, and begged to place his services at our disposition.

I replied, that having before visited his city, I considered myself sufficiently acquainted with its sights to be able to dispense with this, otherwise useful, personage's attendance; but our host seemed so desirous that we should employ the old man, "We might have little errands to send him upon-some purchases to make; in fact, we should find the Tio Blas Foreign gentlemen.

so useful in any capacity, and it would be such an act of charity to employ him," that we finally acceded to his proposal, and the Tio was accordingly ushered in.

He was a tall, and, though emaciated, still erect old man, whose tottering gait, and white and scanty hairs, would have led to the belief that his years had already exceeded the number usually allotted to the life of man, but that his deep-sunk eyes were shaded by dark and beatling brows, and yet sparkled occasionally with the fire of youth; proving that hardships and misfortunes had brought him somewhat prematurely to the brink of the grave.

It struck me at the first glance that I had seen him before, but when, and under what circumstances, I could not recall to my recollection. After some conversation, as to what had been his former occupation, &c., he remarked, addressing himself to me, " I think, Caballero, that this is not the first time we have met- many years have elapsed since—many (to me) most eventful years, and they have wrought great changes in my appearance. And, indeed, some little difference is perceptible also in yours, for you were a mere boy then; but, still, time has not laid so heavy a hand on you as on the wornout person of him who stands before you, and in whom you will, doubtless, have difficulty in recognizing the reckless Blas Maldonado!"

OLD ACQUAINTANCE.

293

Time had, indeed, effected great changes in him, morally as well as physically; for not only had the powerful, well-built man, dwindled into a tottering, emaciated driveller, but the daring, impious bandit, had become a weak and superstitious dotard.

My curiosity strongly piqued to learn how changes so wonderful had been brought about, we immediately engaged the Tio to attend upon us; and, during the few days circumstances compelled us to remain at Cordoba, I elicited from him the following account of the events which had chequered his extraordinary career since we had before met.

CHAPTER XII.

HISTORY OF BLAS EL GUERRILLERO-continued.

“La rueda de la fortuna anda mas lista que una rueda de molino, y que los que ayer estaban en pinganitos, hoy estan por el suelo.” DON QUIJOTE.

-

Ir was at Castrò el Rio that we last met Don Carlos; it is now eleven years since, rather more, but still I have a perfect recollection of it. My memory, indeed, is the only thing that has served me well through life. Friends have abandoned-riches corrupted—success has hardened ambition disappointed me; and now, as you see, my very limbs are failing me, but memory—excepting for one short period, when my brain was affected-has never abandoned me. I cannot flee from it-it pursues me incessantly it is as impossible to get rid of, as of one's shadow in the sun's rays, and seems

* The wheel of fortune revolves more rapidly than that of a mill, and those who were elevated yesterday, to-day are on the ground.

A BANDIT'S STORY.

295

indeed, like it, to become more perfect, as I too proceed downward in my rapidly revolving

course.

Alas! it often brings to mind the words of my good father, addressed, whilst I was yet a child, to my too-indulgent mother:-"If we consult the happiness of our son, we must not bring him up above the condition to which it has pleased Providence to call him." It was my unhappy lot, however, to become an educated pauper. I grew up discontented, and became a profligate: I coveted riches, to feed my unnatural cravings, and became criminal: I scoffed at religion, and came to ridicule the idea of a future state of rewards and punishments. And as I thus brought myself to believe that I was not an accountable creature, nothing thenceforth restrained me from committing any act which gratified my passions. What is man, I argued, that I should not despoil him, if he possess that which I covet? What should deter me from taking his life, if he stand between me and that which I desire? Crime is a mere word,—a term for any act which certain men, for their mutual advantage, have agreed shall meet with punishment. But what right have those men to say, this is just, and that is unlawful?

Such were my feelings at the time I met and related to you the adventures of my early life; adventures of which I was then not a little

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