Don Hemstitch Blodoza was a hidalgo – one of the highest dalgos of old Spain. He had a comfortably picturesque castle on the Guadalquiver, with towers, battlements, and mortgages on it; but as it belonged, not to his own creditors, but to those of his bitterest enemy, who inhabited it, D...
<p>Don Hemstitch Blodoza was a <em>hidalgo</em> – one of the highest <em>dalgos</em> of old Spain. He had a comfortably picturesque castle on the Guadalquiver, with towers, battlements, and mortgages on it; but as it belonged, not to his own creditors, but to those of his bitterest enemy, who inhabited it, Don Hemstitch preferred the forest as a steady residence. He had that curse of Spanish pride which will not permit one to be a burden upon the man who may happen to have massacred all one’s relations, and set a price upon the heads of one’s family generally. He had made a vow never to accept the hospitality of Don Symposio – not if he died for it. So he pervaded the romantic dells, and the sunless jungle was infected with the sound of his guitar. He rose in the morning and laved him in the limpid brooklet; and the beams of the noonday sun fell upon him in the pursuit of diet –</p>
<p><i>“The thistle’s downy seed his fare,</i></p>
<p><i>His drink the morning dew.”</i></p>
<p>He throve but indifferently upon this meagre regimen, but beyond all other evils a true Spaniard of the poorer sort dreads obesity. During the darkest night of the season he will get up at an absurd hour and stab his best friend in the back rather than grow fat.</p>
<p>It will of course be suspected by the experienced reader that Don Hemstitch did not have any bed. Like the Horatian lines above quoted –</p>
<p><i>“He perched at will on every spray.”</i></p>
<p>In translating this tale into the French, M. Victor Hugo will please twig the proper meaning of the word “spray”; I shall be very angry if he make it appear that my hero is a gull.</p>
<p>One morning while Don Hemstitch was dozing upon his leafy couch – not his main couch, but a branch – he was roused from his tranquil nap by the grunting of swine; or, if you like subtle distinctions, by the sound of human voices. Peering cautiously through his bed-hangings, he saw below him at a little distance two of his countrymen in conversation. The fine practised phrenzy of their looks, their excellently rehearsed air of apprehensive secrecy, showed him they were merely conspiring against somebody’s life; and he dismissed the matter from his mind until the mention of his own name recalled his attention. One of the conspirators was urging the other to make one of a j...