Astorga--The Inn--The Maragatos--Habits of the Maragatos--The Statue.
WE went to a posada in the suburbs, the only one, indeed, which the place afforded. The courtyard was full of arrieros and carriers, brawling loudly; the master of the house was fighting with two of his customers, and universal confusion reigned around. As I dismounted I received the contents of a wine-glass in my face, of which greeting, as it was probably intended for another, I took no notice. Antonio, however, was not so patient, for on being struck with a cudgel, he instantly returned the salute with his whip, scarifying the countenance of a carman. In my endeavours to separate these two antagonists, my horse broke loose, and rushing amongst the promiscuous crowd, overturned several individuals and committed no little damage. It was a long time before peace was restored: at last we were shown to a tolerably decent chamber. We had, however, no sooner taken possession of it, than the waggon from Madrid arrived on its way to Coruña, filled with dusty travellers, consisting of women, children, invalid officers, and the like. We were now forthwith dislodged, and our baggage flung into the yard. On our complaining of this treatment, we were told that we were two vagabonds whom nobody knew; who had come without an arriero, and had already set the whole house in confusion. As a great favour, however, we were at length permitted to take up our abode in a ruinous building down the yard, adjoining the stable, and filled with rats and vermin. Here there was an old bed with a tester, and with this wretched accommodation we were glad to content ourselves, for I could proceed no farther, and was burnt with fever. The heat of the place was intolerable, and I sat on the staircase with my head between my hands, gasping for breath: soon appeared Antonio with vinegar and water, which I drank and felt relieved.
We continued in this suburb three days, during the greatest part of which time I was stretched on the tester bed. I once or twice contrived to make my way into the town, but found no bookseller, nor any person willing to undertake the charge of disposing of my Testaments. The people were brutal, stupid, and uncivil, and I returned to my tester bed fatigued and dispirited. Here I lay listening from time to time to the sweet chimes which rang from the clock of the old catheral. The master of the house never came near me, nor, indeed, once inquired about me. Beneath the care of Antonio, however, I speedily waxed stronger. "Mon maître," said he to me one evening, "I see you are better; let us quit this bad town and worse posada to-morrow morning. Allons, mon maître! Il est temps de nous mettre en chemin pour Lugo et Galice."
Before proceeding, however, to narrate what befel us in this journey to Logo and Galicia, it will, perhaps, not be amiss to say a few words concerning Astorga and its vicinity. It is a walled town, containing about five or six thousand inhabitants, with a cathedral and college,