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of his search, and had just reached the corner of the street in which he lived, knee deep in mud and water, and with his patience completely exhausted, when, looking towards his own house, the noise of the revelry within burst upon his astonished ear. He was fully aware that the sounds proceeded from his own dwelling, but so unaccountable did the circumstance appear to him, that he began half to doubt the evidence of his senses, and held up his lantern in order that he might reconnoitre the premises at his leisure. His astonishment may be better conceived than expressed, when the light revealed to him the Bush and the Dolphin, swinging to and fro over the door. He stood for some minutes like one entranced. He next began to scrutinize the appearance of all the other houses in the neighbourhood, but found that they had undergone no alteration. He then re-perused, syllable by syllable, the name of the street, which was carved in large capitals, against the corner house. Every thing was in its proper place, and even his own abode did not seem to have diverged either to the right or left a single inch; but then there was the sign of a Dolphin over the door! He pinched and slapped himself with considerable violence, to convince himself that he was awake, and having satisfied himself on this head, began to suspect that drunkenness had something to do with what he considered the disorganization of his optics. Recollecting, however, that he had not touched a beaker of wine for some days, he came to the conclusion, that his intellects were not impaired by intoxication, and that the strange alterations before him had been the work of some demon of witchcraft. Anxious to penetrate the mystery as far as was possible, he employed the knocker of the door with so much diligence that the heads of half the people in the neighbourhood were immediately popped out of their windows in their nightcaps, for the purpose of inquiring the cause of so unprecedented a tumult. Although drenched to the skin by the torrents that poured down upon him from the eaves and spouts, the painter was determined to persevere, taking care to increase each time the force of his application to the knocker, so that the music grew louder and louder. At length a man (to all appearance the ostler of the inn), thrust a shock head out of an upper window, exclaiming · There is no room here, my friend, march about your business, and make a little less disturbance, or by St. Jerome, I will furnish you with something for your night-cap that will not increase the comforts of your situation.'
'I want no room but my own,' rejoined Fabricio, "and I should be very glad to know by what right you refuse me entrance into my own house, and be hanged to you.'
The ostler was, however, inexorable, and having damned our hero for a drunkard or a madman, hastily closed the window, whilst the dancing and music within appeared to recommence with redoubled energy. The painter devoted himself in turn to every saint in the calendar, imploring assistance in his present extraordinary dilemma; but they were all equally deaf to his intreaties. The rain still continued to descend in torrents, the east-wind was cutting him in two, and the candle of his lantern was expiring in its socket, when, out of all patience, he once more renewed his application to the knocker with more energy and determination than ever.
. Boy,' exclaimed a hoarse voice in the passage, fetch me a cudgel, and I will let fall some pretty considerable thwacks upon that tiresome rascal's shoulders. Thereupon the door opened, and a servant, armed with a formidable bludgeon, rushed into the street.
• Confound you !' said he to the painter, · for a fool, will you not take an answer. Have you not been repeatedly informed that the house is full, and that there is no room for you?'
The painter persisted that it was his own house, and had descended from father to son for upwards of a century. • Did not,' pursued he, ‘my ancestor, Jerome Fabricio, build it? And was it not left to me by my poor father, Nicholas, of blessed memory, at his decease?' What trash is this about Jerome, and Nicholas, and Fabricio ?' said the man. · Why, I repeat,' rejoined the painter, that they were my ancestors. I am an artist, well known and respected in Madrid, and my wife's name is Clara. I trust you have not metamorphosed her into a bar-maid with your abominable sorceries.'
. Come, come,' rejoined the fellow, every body knows that this is the Dolphin Tavern, and though I say it, there is not a more comfortable inn throughout Madrid. I have lived here with our good landlord, Pedro Mondragon and his wife Catilina, man and boy, for these last sixteen years, and I think it is time I should know to whom the house belongs. Were it not that I entertain some compassion for the miserable condition to which your drunkenness has reduced you, I would soon thrash the wine out of your doublet for you, and teach you how to knock people up in the dead of the night, and pretend to mistake their domiciles for your own.'
The speaker then shut the door in the painter's face, who seeing no prospect of further parley, once more set out, in the dark, upon his travels, and stumbling and plunging at every step among the deep cavities of one of the worst paved towns in Europe, directed his course to the house of his excellent friend Senor Agraz. It was three o'clock in the morning ere he arrived before the old gentleman's residence. After he had plied the knocker with his wonted assiduity and energy, Senor Agraz threw up his window, and having acertained that the applicant for admission was no other than his acquaintance the painter, hastened down stairs to admit him, conceiving, as it was natural he should, that some appalling calamity must have befallen him; but when an explanation had taken place, he could only attribute the absurd rhodomontade of the painter to the too potent fumes of the good wine of Yepres, or St. Martin, to both of which he was notoriously partial. He accordingly assisted him to take off his wet clothes, and then put him into a comfortable bed.
Fabricio had no sooner quitted the Calle de Lavapies than his wife, with the aid of her friends, set herself industriously to work to restore the house to its former appearance; and having taken down the sign, replaced the street-door, and dismissed her guests, retired to rest, her fingers aching with clattering the castanets, her feet wearied with dancing, and her sides sore with the laughter in which she had indulged.
At an early hour the next morning the painter returned home, accompanied by Senor Agraz, whom he had at length half persuaded of the truth of his tale, and who was extremely curious to ascertain its authenticity. However, when they found every thing in its usual situation, and no signs whatever of the metamorphoses which had been described by Fabricio, he began to revile him as an incorrigible drunkard; whilst the astounded painter, on his part, wished that he might be burned for a Jew and a heretic, if some accursed wizard had not contrived the illusion for the express purpose of driving him out of his senses.
They knocked, and the door was immediately opened by the niece, half dressed, and in her night-cap.
Upon my word, uncle,' said she, as soon as she beheld the painter, < this is very pretty behaviour. Here have you left your wife in excruciating pain ever since midnight, and you now come home at ten o'clock in the morning as cool and unconcerned as if nothing at all had been the matter.'
Bridget, my dear,' answered the painter, “if you only knew what I have suffered since I went out in search of Juana and my wife's confessor, you would, I am sure, pity me from the bottom of your heart. We must quit this house forthwith, for it is undoubtedly the resort of fiends and magicians.'
* A pretty fellow you are for a messenger,' vociferated his wife, who now joined the party, en chemise, with a stuff petticoat wrapped around her shoulders ; how comes it that you are so dry withal, and what company have you been keeping the livelong night? Do not expect that your friend's intercession will avail you. I tell you once for all, that I am determined to apply for a divorce. I have had quite enough of husbands for the present; and as I have no inclination to have my sallad seasoned with arsenic again, I shall certainly apply to our neighbour Perez to draw out a deed of separation.'
• Be quiet, Clara,' exclaimed old Agraz, poor Fabricio is entirely guiltless of any offence; but some infernal wizard seems to have enchanted you-certainly not with each other-or you would not amuse your friends with these perpetual broils.'
• My dear,' interrupted the unlucky painter, ' be pleased to listen to the narrative of what I have undergone, before you proceed to complain in such uncivil language.
He then entered into a succinct account of his adventures, the relation of which appeared only to exasperate his wife's pretended passion. And pray, good Mr. Fabricio, what must you take us for, that you should expect us to digest so palpable and monstrous a falsehood as this ? Balls, violins, and suppers here, indeed! The only music I know of was my groans : and as for supper, mine was made upon a morsel of toasted rhubarb root. and a tea-spoonful of hartshorn! It was fortunate that it cured me : for if I had had to depend for relief upon your kindness and attention, you hard-hearted wretch, I should undoubtedly have been in my grave before this.'
• My love,' replied the painter, let me entreat you not to torment me by day as well as night. I swear, by St. Jerome, that I have not spoken a word more or less than the plain truth. This house has become a resort for the devil and all his imps, and from it I will go as soon as possible. If I sleep in the street, I shall at least avoid the unpleasantness of having Satan for a fellow-lodger.'
"Why, uncle,' said Bridget, I have suffered a martyrdom from the persecution of the hobgoblins that haunt my chamber, and I am black and blue with the pinches and thumps I have received from them.'
• Why did you not tell me so before?' said her aunt, in a pretended fright. Because I thought you would insist that it was fancy,' rejoined Bridget ; and besides, I was afraid of sullying the character of the house.'
• Well, well,' said Senor Agraz, ' let us say no more about it. Clara is well, Fabricio is safe, and we will have the house exorcised, the devils all driven out, and the ghosts laid; meantime let us all pass a merry Easter together!
The painter's wife seemed willing enough to be appeased, but could not help availing herself of the opportunity to read her husband a severe lecture on his debauchery; insisting that his continual absence from home had encouraged the devil to take possession of his house, and to play those pranks from which he had suffered such severe annoyance. Fabricio promised amendment with so great a shew of penitence, and evinced himself in fact so entirely the dupe of her credulity, that Clara doubted the possibility of being surpassed in her trick by her rivals in ingenuity, and made herself secure, in anticipation, of the rich guerdon which was to become the prize of the conqueror.
The unfortunate lady upon whom the gouty and jealous Senor Agraz had been inflicted as a husband, was by no means discouraged by the successful enterprizes of her competitors, and stimulated as much by the desire of reforming her spouse's conduct towards her, as by the prospect of gaining the ring and purse, she took the field with a light and courageous heart. Fortunately for the success of her plot, her brother, a monk of the order of Francesco de Asis, had just arrived in Madrid, having been appointed prior of the convent of the capuchins in that city. Of this circumstance Senor Agraz was completely ignorant. His wife had for some time past complained to her brother in her letters of the misery she endured from the capricious temper and unreasonable jealousy of her husband. Indeed she had proceeded so far as to acquaint the good capuchin with her intention to sue for a divorce from her tormentor, unless his behaviour underwent a very material alteration for the better. The worthy monk had written frequent letters to Agraz, to expostulate with him on his conduct, but finding that his interference was of no avail, and only exasperated the already furious and ungovernable temper of the old man, he was obliged to recommend his sister to appeal to the laws, if she could discover no other mode of bringing her capricious husband to his senses.
One morning, when Senor Agraz was attending mass in a neigh·bouring church, Marina sent for her brother, the prior, and having detailed, with a flood of tears, the misery to which she was subjected by the ill treatment of her husband, she assured him that if she could prevail upon him to assist her, she thought she had found out an expedient that might, perhaps, effect a change in her tyrant's conduct. It was not without considerable difficulty that our excellent capuchin could be persuaded to yield to his sister's solicitations; but, at length, that irresistible argument, a woman's tears, prevailing, he was induced to promise his aid and concurrence. Although unwilling to lend himself to the promotion of a deception, he considered, in all probability, that on this occasion the means were in some degree sanctified by the end. The particulars of this stratagem will be detailed in due season.
On his return to his convent, the prior having assembled a chapter of the holy brethren, considered it his duty to submit the affair to their censure, when it was unanimously agreed, that, in so charitable a work, as the reformation of a bad husband, any means were allowable that were likely to conduce to a consummation so devoutly to be wished. Fortified by this resolution of the learned brotherhood, the prior ventured to send his sister, by one of the convent servants, a packet of a certain powder, the effect of which was to plunge the person to whom it might be given into a profound and death-like sleep, which would endure for six or eight hours. Marina received the present with much satisfaction; and having
infused the drug into a goblet of wine which she had placed before her husband at supper, had the satisfaction to see him drain it at a single draught. Before the supper things were removed, Senor Agraz fell from his chair, to all appearance so completely dead, that if Marina and her maid had not been prepared for the effect of the potion, they would have considered the services of an undertaker perfectly indispensable. Having undressed the Senor, they put him carefully to bed, and in about half an hour afterwards the prior arrived in a coach, accompanied by a monk and two lay-brothers. The party repaired at once to the bed-chamber in which Agraz lay entranced, and the superior ordered one of the lay-brethren, who was provided with a pair of scissors and a razor for the purpose, to cut off the beard of the sleeper, and to equip him in the monastic tonsure. Not a moment was lost by the obedient shaver in executing the prior's commands; and although neither warm water nor soap were wasted in the operation, Senor Agraz came from under his hands as thoroughly and effectually shaven as any capuchin in christendom. He was then arrayed in the cowl and frock of the order of St. Francis, a metamorphosis which, had he been conscious of his situation, he would rather have turned Turk than have submitted to; and his monastic costume having been completed, the lay-brethren seized him neck and heels, and deposited him in the straw at the bottom of the carriage. As soon as they arrived at the convent, they conveyed him to one of the penitential cells; and having undressed him, they stretched him upon a wooden couch, and placing his religious habiliments upon a stool beside the bed, left him until the powder should have finished its operation. Its effect had already lasted two hours, and our unconscious novice had passed another two hours in his lethargy, when at midnight the bells began (as is customary in all monasteries) to ring for the matin service; and as soon as they had ceased, one of the friars went the round of all the cells with his matracca to awaken those who were yet sleeping. The matracca is a kind of wooden mallet, hollowed out at each of its four sides, and studded with iron nails, the sound of which, as it strikes upon the doors of the cells, is not a little appalling to those who hear it for the first time in their lives. This instrument is in general use throughout all the convents in Spain. No sooner did the sound of the matracca salute the ears of poor Father Agraz, than he started up in an agony of surprise, crying out, • Mercy upon us, Marina, what in the name of all the saints is the matter? Is the house falling?' And then having stretched out his hands in search of his wife in vain, a suspicion flashed across his brain that she had deserted him• Where art thou, wicked and treacherous woman ? Out of my bed at night, and in darkness; but I will have ample revenge. Inez, bring me my clothes, and a sword, and I will wash out this stain upon my honour in thy perfidious mistress's blood.'
Having said this, he began to seek for his clothes, in lieu of which he encountered the capuchin's habit, which lay by his bed-side. This overwhelmed him for some moments with astonishment, for he could distinguish by the coarseness of his vesture that the garment was certainly not one which he had been accustomed to wear; and he now remarked that the bed on which he was reclining was equally novel to him. By groping along the walls, he ascertained too that he was in a strange room, and having found the door closed, he was attempting to force it open, when he threw down a scull placed upon a shelf immediately over it, which struck