“And was about to tell a story of my own invention, to deceive the old lady my mother.”
“Anna Senna! curses on your mother!” cried the pacha, in an angry tone. “Sit down and continue your story. Is a pacha nothing? Is the lion to be chafed by a jackall? Wallah le Nebi! By God and the Prophet! do you laugh at our beard? The story!”
“The story requested by your highness,” replied the slave, with great coolness, “was commenced in the following words.”
What occurred during my infancy, my dearest mother, I do not recollect; but I can retrace to the age of seven years, when I found myself in company with a number of others, from the squalling infant of a few days old, up to about my own age. I also recollect that our fare was indifferent, and our punishment severe.
“Poor child!” exclaimed Donna Celia, pressing my hand which was still locked in hers. I continued there until the age of ten, when an old lady who came to the Asylum, took a fancy to me; for I often heard it remarked, that I was a very handsome boy, although I have rather grown out of my good looks lately, Clara.
A pressure of my other hand, and a negative smile, was the answer; and I proceeded—
The old lady Donna Isabella, who was of the noble family of Guzman, wanted a page, and intended to bring me up in that capacity. She carried me to her house, where I was clad in a fancy dress. I used to sit by her side on the carpet, and run upon any message which might be required; in fact, I was a sort of human bell, calling up every body and fetching every thing that was wanted; but I was well fed, and very proud of a little dagger which I wore in my girdle. The only part of my education to which I objected, was learning to read and write from a priest, who was domiciled in the family, and who had himself as great an aversion to teaching as I had to learning. Had the affair rested entirely between us, we might have arranged matters so as to please both parties; but as the old lady used to prove my acquirements by making me read to her, as she knotted, we neither of us could help fulfilling our engagements. By dint of bullying and beating, at last I was sufficiently enlightened to be able to read a romance to my mistress, or answer an invitation-note in the negative or affirmative. My mistress had two nieces who lived with her, both nearly grown up when I entered the family. They taught me dancing for their own amusement, as well as many other things, and by their care I improved very much, even in reading and writing. Although a child, I had a pleasure in being taught by two pretty girls. But it is necessary that I should be more particular in my description of these two young ladies. The eldest, whose name was Donna Emilia, was of a prudent, sedate description, always cheerful, but never boisterous; she constantly smiled, but seldom, if