government did not allow so favourable an opportunity to escape for launching the shafts of ridicule. The Moderados were taunted in the cortes for their avarice and credulity, whilst the liberal press wafted on its wings through Spain the story of the treasure-hunt at St. James.
"After all, it was a trampa of Don Jorge's," said one of my enemies. "That fellow is at the bottom of half the picardias which happen in Spain."
Eager to learn the fate of the Swiss, I wrote to my old friend Rey Romero, at Compostella. In his answer he states: "I saw the Swiss in prison, to which place he sent for me, craving my assistance, for the sake of the friendship which I bore to you. But how could I help him? He was speedily after removed from St. James, I know not whither. It is said that he disappeared on the road."
Truth is sometimes stranger than fiction. Where in the whole cycle of romance shall we find anything more wild, grotesque, and sad than the easily authenticated history of Benedict Mol, the treasure-digger of St. James?
Villa Seca--Moorish House--The Puchera--The Rustic Council--Polite Ceremonial--The Flower of Spain--The Bridge of Azeca--The Ruined Castle--Taking the Field--Demand for the Word--The Old Peasant-- The Curate and Blacksmith--Cheapness of the Scriptures.
IT was one of the most fiercely hot days in which I ever braved the sun when I arrived at Villa Seca. The heat in the shade must have amounted at least to one hundred degrees, and the entire atmosphere seemed to consist of flickering flame. At a place called Leganez, six leagues from Madrid, and about halfway to Toledo, we diverged from the highway, bending our course seemingly towards the south-east. We rode over what are called plains in Spain, but which, in any other part of the world, would be called undulating and broken ground. The crops of corn and barley had already disappeared, the last vestiges discoverable being here and there a few sheaves, which the labourers were occupied in removing to their garners in the villages. The country could scarcely be called beautiful, being perfectly naked, exhibiting neither trees nor verdure. It was not, however, without its pretensions to grandeur and magnificence, like every part of Spain. The most prominent objects were two huge calcareous hills, or rather one cleft in twain, which towered up on high; the summit of the nearest being surmounted by the ruins of an ancient castle, that of Villaluenga. About an hour past noon we reached Villa Seca.
We found it a large village, containing about seven hundred inhabitants, and surrounded by a mud wall. A plaza, or market-place, stood in the midst, one side of which is occupied by what is called a palace, a clumsy quadrangular building of two stories, belonging to