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Chapter 1


When we were informed that the same savages who came through the air to seize on Gibraltar, were come to besiege our beautiful Barcelona, we began to offer prayers at Notre Dame de Manreze—assuredly the best mode of defence.

These people, who come from so far, are called by a name very hard to pronounce, that is, English. Our reverend father inquisitor, Don Jeronimo Bueno Caracucarador, preached against these brigands. He anathematized them in Notre Dame d'Elpino. He assured us that the English had monkey-tails, bears' paws, and parrot-heads; that they sometimes spoke like men, but invariably made a great hissing; that they were moreover notorious heretics; that though the Blessed Virgin was often indulgent to poor sinners, she never forgave heretics, and that consequently they would all be infallibly exterminated, especially if they presumed to appear before Mont-Joui. He had scarcely finished his sermon when he heard that Mont-Joui was taken by storm.

The same evening we learned that a young Englishman, who had been wounded in the assault, was our prisoner. Throughout the town arose cries of victory! victory! And the illuminations were very general.

Donna Boca Vermeja, who had the honor to be the reverend inquisitor's favorite, was very desirous to see what the English animal and heretic was like. She was my intimate friend. I shared her curiosity. We were oblished to wait till his wound was cured; and this did not take very long.

Don Jeronimo Bueno Caracucarador.

Soon after, we learned that he was in the habit of visiting daily at the residence of Elbob, my cousin german, who, as every one knows, is the best surgeon in the town. My friend Boca Vermeja's impatience to see this singular monster increased two-fold. We had no rest ourselves, and gave none to our cousin, the surgeon, till he allowed us to conceal ourselves in a small closet, which we entered on tiptoe without saying a word and scarcely venturing to breathe, just as the Englishman arrived. His face was not turned toward us. He took off a small cap which enclosed his light hair, which then fell in thick curls down the finest neck I ever beheld. His form presented a plumpness, a finish, an elegance, approaching, in my opinion, the Apollo Belvidere at Rome—a copy of which my uncle the sculptor possesses.

Donna Boca Vermeja was transported with surprise, and delighted. I shared her ecstacy, and could not forbear exclaiming: "O che hermoso Muchacho!"

These words made the young man turn round. We then saw the face of an Adonis on the body of a young Hercules. Donna Boca Vermeja nearly fell backwards at the sight:

"St. James!" she exclaimed, "Holy Virgin! is it possible heretics are such fine men? How we have been deceived about them."

Donna Boca was soon violently in love with the heretical monster. She is handsomer than I am, I must confess; and I must also confess that I became doubly jealous of her on that account. I took care to show her that to forsake the reverend father inquisitor, Don Jeronimo Bueno Caracucarador, for an Englishman, would be a crime falling nothing short of damnation.

"Ah! my dear Las Nalgas," she said, (Las Nalgas is my name) "I would forsake Melchizedek himself for so fine a young man."

One of the inquisitors who attended four masses daily, to obtain from Our Lady of Manreze the destruction of the English, heard of our admiration. The Reverend Father Don Caracucarador whipped us both, and had our dear Englishman arrested by twenty-four Alguazils of St. Hermandad. Johnny killed four; and was at length captured by the remaining twenty. He was confined in a very damp cellar, and sentenced to be burnt the following Sunday, in full ceremony, clothed in a San-bénito, wearing a sugar-loaf cap, in honor of our Savior and the Virgin Mary, his mother. Don Caracucarador prepared a fine sermon, but had no occasion for it, as the town was taken at four o'clock on the Sunday morning.

Here Donna Las Nalgas's tale terminates. This lady was not without a description of wit, which in Spain we call agudéza.

Francois-Marie Arouet Voltaire

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