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him on the head, with a hollow sound, in its descent. The door opened into the dormitory of the convent, illuminated by a lamp suspended from the ceiling by an iron chain; and his surprise was considerably augmented when he discovered a multitude of doors, like that of the cell from which he had just emerged, placed at regular distances all round this apparently enchanted hall. He returned into his den and brought out his clothes, which he was astonished to find were neither more nor less than the complete equipment of a cordelier. Mercy on me,' cried Agraz, 'what may this mean? Did I not drop asleep after supper in my own house ? and if so, how does it happen that I am here, and that I find the habiliments of a monk beside my bed instead of my own ? Surely my wife has not mewed me up in a madhouse, for this place looks mightily like one. Is it possible that my jealousy has driven me mad, and that I have now recovered my senses for the first time ? It is by no means impossible; for the last thing I can recollect is, that I was sitting at supper with my wife. Zounds! it must be even so; for I have often heard that the first operation performed upon the patient in houses of this description is that of relieving him of his beard, and my chin is as smooth as my hand: nor is this all, for I find they have not left me a hair on the top of my head.'
There was only one thing wanting to confirm his opinion, and that was the strait waistcoat; but here Senor Agraz was completely at fault, for he held in his hand the frock of a capuchin, and this he knew was not often destined to cover any deficiency of brains. Meanwhile he was pursuing his meditations in his shirt, without being in the least sensible of the cold, when a lay-brother, whose province it was to attend upon the monks with a candle, came into his cell. Why, Father Ambrose,' said the illuminatus, . do you not intend to be resent at matins this morning, that you have neither dressed yourself, nor performed your oblations ?
Senor Agraz, who had by this time exhausted his small stock of patience, retorted sharply, What Father Ambrose are you prating about, my good friend? What have I to do with your matin vespers ? are one of the residents in this asylum for lunatics, you are, I
suppose, incapable of carrying a message, or I should be glad if you would desire the doctor to wait upon me instantly, for I feel that I am suddenly restored to a complete state of convalescence.'
• You are in a strange humour this morning, Father Ambrose,' retorted the friar, but you had better dress yourself with all convenient expedition, unless you desire to get your death of cold. Be so good also as to bear in mind that matins have already begun, and that the prior is by no means a person to suffer jokes to be put upon him with impunity.' With these words the lay-brother retired, leaving Senor Agraz in a state of alarm which
may be more readily conceived than described. What,' cried he, in a paroxysm of rage, I, Father Ambrose! I, a monk! I, go to matins! I, who either am, or ought to be, in bed with my wife! I wish I knew how to awake myself; for whether I am mad or dreaming, I am entirely at a loss to comprehend.'
He stood still for some time in a profound reverie, screened from the piercing blasts that swept through his cell by the rug of the bed, for he abhorred the thought of the frock and cowl, when the door opened a se. cond time, and another monk entered.
• Brother Ambrose,' said he, the church vicar has sent to know why
you do not come to matins. They are almost over; and do you not remember it is your turn to lead the choir this week ?'
Then may all the saints in the calendar be my help,' said the new friar, ' for I plainly perceive that I must be Father Ambrose whether I will or not. Whether you are a monk or a madman, I know not; but I am pretty clearly convinced that this is a madhouse. At all events, do me the favour to solve me one question. Who has taken away my wife, my house, my clothes, my hair, and my beard? What rascally magician is it who has driven me to a state bordering on desperation ?'
This is very pretty behaviour, Father Ambrose, and a most respectful and decorous reply for me to carry to the vicar,' said the monk.
You seem to have made good use of your time in the refectory last night; for St. Francis pardon me, but I think you are drunk still. Come, dress yourself at once, and if you are really so tipsey, I must even help you.' Having thus said, the friar drew the frock over the shoulders of his convert; but when he attempted to get on the cowl, which was rather a tight fit, Senor Agraz took it into his head that his attendant wanted to strangle him, and knocked him down, with a stentorian curse upon all fiends and sorcerers, straightway took to his heels, and ran along the dormitory like a hunted stag. The prior and the other monks of the convent, who witnessed this scene from one of the galleries, were in great danger of dispelling the force of the illusion by their laughter; but they restrained their risibility as well as they could, and came forward in procession with the lighted tapers which they had been using at the choir.
What does all this riotous conduct mean, Father Ambrose ?' asked the prior, with a stern aspect and a voice of thunder. · How dare you disgrace our holy order by lifting your hand against a minister of God. Is it not enough that you have neglected your matins on a high festival, but that you must also commit sacrilege, and incur excommunication. Humble yourself in penitence this moment, and we will try the effect of a little wholesome discipline, and cure, if it be possible, this extraordinary levity.'
• Humble myself !' said the convert, why should I humble myself, and who are you I should be glad to know ? Avaunt! fiends and sorcerers as you are; avoid the place, for I make the sign of the cross against you, and you have no power over a Christian man.' This apostrophe would, in all probability, have lasted longer, if Senor Agraz had not been collared by two stout monks at the command of the superior. • This monk is a lunatic,' said the prior, but chastisement will restore him to his senses; and this exhor tation was followed by a dozen sound lashes, well bestowed upon the shoulders of the recusant, by the vigorous arm of a robust capushin. · The convert roared, and entreated for mercy from his persecutors. • What have I done to deserve this cruel usage ?' cried he. It is surely no crime to be jealous of one's wife, since I am confident I have never given any one cause to be jealous of me. If you are a monk, I have never injured or defrauded the church, and I am willing to submit to any penance in reason and moderation; or, if you are devils, as I rather suspect to be the case, I know no right that you can have to flog my back in this scandalous manner.'
What!' retorted the prior, 'are you mad still. We shall see who will be fatigued first, if that be the case.'
I am heartily tired, I assure you, most reverend father,' interrupted the penitent, * Have pity on me, I humbly beseech you.'
Will you behave properly then ?' demanded the prior, ‘ and repent,'
I do repent with my whole soul,' rejoined Agraz, ' but of what I am to repent, I really know not !'
A very pretty sort of contrition,' replied the superior, ‘ but I will see what I can do with this rebellious sinner.' The prior accompanied this remark with such a rapid and well applied shower of thwacks with his staff, that the newly adopted friar lost no time in prostrating himself at the feet of his chastiser. Have but a little mercy upon my shoulders, reverend father,' exclaimed he, and I will most readily confess myself to be the vilest man and most unworthy sinner upon the face of the globe ; and as to my future behaviour, I assure you, I will conduct myself unexceptionably if you will consent to leave me what little skin remains upon my back.' • Do you know that you are a monk,' interrogated the prior, and that in a man of your character a venial offence is more unpardonable than a deadly sin in a layman.'
Yes, certainly, I acknowledge that I am a monk,' answered Agraz. • And pray what order do you belong to ?' asked the prior.
Any that you please, reverend sir,' replied Agraz; ' I shall not object to avow myself the Grand Turk, if your reverence should insist
it.' Then you will hereafter be humble, obedient, and diligent in your duties, Father Ambrose, I suppose.'
• I will be Father Ambrose, or any one else, you may choose to call me, holy father,' returned the sufferer.
. Then kiss the feet of that venerable friar,' said the superior, and return your acknowledgments to the brotherhood for their charitable discipline.'
• I will kiss any thing you wish,' replied Agraz, and I am infinitely obliged to you for past favours.' This profound humility was too much for the friars, who began to whisper and laugh among themselves; but the superior reproved them with an austere frown:
• Do you laugh, brethren, at the folly of your companion ? Weep, rather, that a monk, who has maintained an unblemished character in this monastery for more than fifteen years, should have so disgracefully forgotten himself and his duty.'
* Fifteen years !' said Agraz to himself ; 'well, this beats all the enchantments of Merlin, or the Fairy Morgana, hollow : for if I have ever been a monk at all, I neither know how, when, or where, I became so !!
Follow us to the choir,' continued the prior: Father Ambrose obeyed; and, as he knew nearly as much of psalmody as of Arabic, he led the chorus in so novel a style, that the superior, to avoid a scene of utter confusion, was obliged to feign that he thought our musician's blunders were committed in a spirit of disrespect for his hearers, and therefore directed him to be imprisoned in his cell for the space of eight days, during which time he was to be kept upon a bread and water diet, and beaten twice every day on the soles of his feet, in order to awaken in him a lively sense of the enormity of his offences. This penance having been performed, he was ordered by the prior to accompany one of the monks on a begging expedition for the monastery, a custom followed by most of the monasteries of Madrid every Saturday. Senor Agraz, who had grown wonderfully docile all at once, having been equipped with a wallet, set forward on his round without offering the slightest objection to his tormentor's command, and was purposely conducted by his companion to the very street in which he had lived for so many years. Having recognised his own house looking just as it did, when he last departed from it, he muttered to himself, · Good gracious! and am I not the husband of Marina ? It is impossible to doubt the fact, yet how the devil could I came by this shaven crown and monk's attire ? Ah! there is my dear wife,' continued he, and, giving his companion the slip, he rushed into the house, where, meeting his spouse in the hall, he fell upon her neck, whining out · My dear Marina, heaven has, no doubt, inflicted on me the sufferings I have lately undergone, as a judgment for my unkind and peevish conduct to you. I have been made a monk against my will, without knowing why or wherefore. However, my worthy brethren may in future find some one else to collect alms for them, for now that I am safely housed, they shall not unkennel me quite as easily as they may think they will." What barefaced effrontery is this?' screamed out the Senora Marina. Help! my friends, for the love of heaven, and the Virgin Mary! this brutal monk is about to offer rudeness to me!' On hearing these words, delivered in a tone of great vehemence, the friar, whom Agraz had left outside the door, ran into the house, followed by several of the neighbours, who, quite unable to recognise their friend in the extraordinary disguise in which he presented himself to their observation, turned him neck and heels into the street. They would have proceeded to still further extremities had not his companion interfered, and assured them that he was a poor lunatic, belonging to the monastery of St. Francesco de Asis, who fancied himself married, and every woman he saw to be his wife. He was accordingly allowed once more to take charge of his captive, who, on their return to the monastery, received another severe castigation for his obstreporousness, and was again placed upon a bread and water regimen for several weeks, indeed, until his hair and beard began to assume their original appearance. A few days after the complete restoration of these appendages,' he was chewing the cud of sweet and bitter fancy in his cell, when, suddenly, the following apostrophe, uttered in a plaintive and melancholious voice, broke upon his ear : Agraz, your wife, Marina, whom you are for ever wearying with your idle and absurd suspicions, is entirely innocent of any of the myriad offences you have laid to her charge. The discipline you have lately undergone, has been a chastisement inflicted upon you by heaven, for your ridiculous jealousy. Let it serve as a warning to you in future, and if you should be permitted to return to your home, have a care how you treat your already much injured consort, lest you provoke a far severer punishment than has hitherto been inflicted upon you.
This appeal had the desired effect upon the delinquent, for joining the palms of his hands, and falling straightway on his knees with all the devotion imaginable, he thus apostrophized his invisible monitor : "Blessed oracle, be thou of heaven or earth, assisť me to escape from this infernal den, and I will not only promise any and every thing you may require, but will positively turn over an entirely new leaf as it regards my wife, and never in future indulge in the slightest complaint without good and sufficient cause, which, the Virgin be praised,' he added, somewhat under his breath, she will not be long in giving me.'
Just at this moment one of the holy brotherhood' entered with a repast, infinitely more palatable than any thing he had tasted since his long probation; and having supplied him, as he pretended, under the rose, with a bottle of excellent wine, in which he had the precaution to infuse a pretty strong opiate, left him to discuss his supper at his leisure. The dose of course took effect. Indeed, not having tasted for so many weeks any
more potent beverage than water, the wine would have produced the desired results without the addition of any more powerful sedative. Having fallen into a profound sleep, his hair and beard, which were now completely renewed, were assimilated as nearly as possible to their original form, and his monkish attire having been removed, he was despatched, under the care of one of the holy fathers to his own house, and instantly put to bed, his secular habiliments having been carefully deposited on a chair beside him, he slept soundly until very late the next morning. On awaking, he was greatly astonished to find himself provided with accommodations so immeasurably superior to those to which he had been accustomed for so many weeks; but his surprise was proportionably increased, when, on stretching out his hands, he discovered that his long-lost wife was quietly sleeping beside him. He was at first apprehensive that it was some evil spirit, who had assumed the form of his better half, for the purpose of tempting him to the commission of crime, and he began to repeat his orisons with great earnestness and volubility. Marina, who feigned sleep, pretended to have been awakened by the noise of his paternoster, What, in the name of heaven, do you want,' ejaculated she ; am I for ever to be the victim of your violence and peevishness ?' Who art thou, who askest the question ?' rejoined Agraz, trembling as he spoke, “Who am I; why, who should I be, you superannuated old fool, but your loving wife, and obedient slave, Marina ?' • How came you to gain access to this convent ?' pursued he; 'should the superior be made acquainted with your visit, you will inevitably be excommunicated, thrust without the pale of the Catholic church; and as for me, I shall be bastinadoed until I have not a square inch of unmutilated skin upon my devoted carcase.' • Of what convent, and what superior, are you raving, you old fool ?' • How,' said Agraz, rubbing his eyes, • have I not been a monk these last. fifteen years ?'
I know not of what you are talking,' said Marina ; 'but if you are really awake, which would appear doubtful, and have no inclination to dine and sup at the same time, you had better get up immediately.'
Overwhelmed by the confusion of images and recollections that presented themselves to his imagination, the Senor would have disbelieved the evidence of his eyes and ears, if in passing his hand over his chin he had not encountered a beard as thick and as bushy as any one would desire to possess, save a rabbi of the first order. Having groped his way out of bed, and opened the window-shutter, he discovered that he was once again in his own room, and that every vestige of his late pursuits had vanished from his view. The clothes by his bed-side were those in which he had always been accustomed to array himself whilst engaged in secular pursuits; and looking in the glass, he was still further bewildered to find that the religious character of his face had vanished altogether. He began to cross himself in a perfect agony of gratitude and devotion, believing that what he had witnessed was in effect the fulfilment of the mysterious promise which had been made to him by some unseen visitant in his cell. In answer to the inquiries of his wife, he related to her all he fancied had befallen him with the most rigid gravity of coưntenance, concluding that the whole must have been a dream, designed to admonish him to behave with more kindness and confidence than he had ever before been accustomed to behave to his wife. She of course was glad to encourage this illusion, and promised to say nine masses to the holy Virgin, should it please God to turn her spouse from the error of his ways, and teach him a little of