Thereupon I presented him with a few dollars.
"A strange man is this Benedict," said Antonio to me next morning, as, accompanied by a guide, we sallied forth from Oviedo; "a strange man, mort maitre, is this same Benedict. A strange life has he led, and a strange death he will die,--it is written on his countenance. That he will leave Spain I do not believe, or if he leave it, it will be only to return, for he is bewitched about this treasure. Last night he sent for a sorcière, whom he consulted in my presence; and she told him that he was doomed to possess it, but that first of all he must cross water. She cautioned him likewise against an enemy, which he supposes must be the canon of St. James. I have often heard people speak of the avidity of the Swiss for money, and here is a proof of it. I would not undergo what Benedict has suffered in these last journeys of his, to possess all the treasures in Spain."
Departure from Oviedo--Villa Viciosa--The Young Man of the Inn--Antonio's Tale--The General and his Family--Woful Tidings--To-morrow we die --San Vincente--Santander--An Harangue--Flinter the Irishman.
So we left Oviedo and directed our course towards Santander. The man who accompanied us as guide, and from whom I hired the pony on which I rode, had been recommended to me by my friend the merchant of Oviedo. He proved, however, a lazy indolent fellow; he was generally loitering two or three hundred yards in our rear, and instead of enlivening the way with song and tale, like our late guide, Martin of Rivadeo, he scarcely ever opened his lips, save to tell us not to go so fast, or that I should burst his pony if I spurred him so. He was thievish withal, and though he had engaged to make the journey seco, that is, to defray the charges of himself and beast, he contrived throughout to keep both at our expense. When journeying in Spain, it is invariably the cheapest plan to agree to maintain the guide and his horse or mule, for by so doing the hire is diminished at least one- third, and the bills upon the road are seldom increased; whereas, in the other case, he pockets the difference, and yet goes shot free, and at the expense of the traveller, through the connivance of the innkeepers, who have a kind of fellow-feeling with the guides.
Late in the afternoon we reached Villa Viciosa, a small dirty town, at the distance of eight leagues from Oviedo: it stands beside a creek, which communicates with the Bay of Biscay. It is sometimes called La Capitál de las Avellanas, or the capital of the Filberts, from the immense quantity of this fruit which is grown in the neighbourhood; and the greatest part of which is exported to England. As we drew nigh we overtook numerous cars laden with avellanas proceeding in the direction of the town. I was informed that several small English