Benedict for fifty dollars per month. Madame is sure to hate me, and so is her waiting woman; and more particularly the latter, because I am a married man. I see that mi Lor is willing to engage me."
"But you say you are a married man," I replied; "how can you desert your wife? for I am about to leave Madrid, and to travel into the remote and mountainous parts of Spain."
"My wife will receive the moiety of my wages while I am absent, mi Lor, and therefore will have no reason to complain of being deserted. Complain! did I say; my wife is at present too well instructed to complain. She never speaks nor sits in my presence unless I give her permission. Am I not a Greek, and do I not know how to govern my own house? Engage me, mi Lor, I am a man of many capacities: a discreet valet, an excellent cook, a good groom and light rider; in a word, I am Ρωμαϊκός. What would you more?"
I asked him his terms, which were extravagant, notwithstanding his principes d'honneur. I found, however, that he was willing to take one-half.
I had no sooner engaged him, than seizing the tureen of soup, which had by this time become quite cold, he placed it on the top of his forefinger, or rather on the nail thereof, causing it to make various circumvolutions over his head, to my great astonishment, without spilling a drop; then springing with it to the door, he vanished, and in another moment made his appearance with the puchera, which, after a similar bound and flourish, he deposited on the table; then suffering his hands to sink before him, he put one over the other and stood at his ease with half-shut eyes, for all the world as if he had been in my service twenty years.
And in this manner Antonio Buchini entered upon his duties. Many was the wild spot to which he subsequently accompanied me; many the wild adventure of which he was the sharer. His behaviour was frequently in the highest degree extraordinary, but he served me courageously and faithfully: such a valet, take him for all in all,
"His like I ne'er expect to see again."
Kosko bakh Anton.
Illness--Nocturnal Visit--A Master Mind--The Whisper--Salamanca-- Irish Hospitality--Spanish Soldiers--The Scriptures Advertised.
BUT I am anxious to enter upon the narrative of my journey, and shall therefore abstain from relating to my readers a great many circumstances which occurred previously to my leaving Madrid on this expedition. About the middle of May I had got everything in readiness, and I bade farewell to my friends. Salamanca was the first place which I intended to visit.