END OF PETER OF THE CORNER AND THE LITTLE CUTTER.
Two students were one day passing along the banks of the Tormes, when they found a boy, about eleven years old, dressed as a labourer, and sleeping under a tree. They sent a servant to wake him, and when he had well opened his eyes, they asked him whence he came, and what he was doing, to be lying asleep and defenceless in that lonely place. The boy replied, that he had forgotten the name of his birthplace, but was going to Salamanca, there to seek a master whom he might serve, on condition of being permitted and aided to pursue his studies.
The gentlemen then asked if he could read, and he replied that he could, and write also.
“It is not from want of memory, then, that you have forgotten the name of your country,” remarked the students.
“Let the cause be what it may,” replied the boy, “neither that nor the name of my parents shall be known to any one until I can do honour to them both.”
“But in what manner do you propose to do them honour?” inquired the gentlemen.
“By the results of my studies,” said the boy, “and when I have rendered myself famous by the learning I mean to acquire; for I have heard that some men have made themselves bishops by their studies.”
This reply moved the two gentlemen to receive the lad into their service, and take him with them to Salamanca, giving him such facilities for studying as it is not unusual for masters to afford in that university to those who serve them.
The youth subsequently informed his masters, that they might call him Thomas Rodaja; whence the students judged him to be the son of some poor labourer. A day or two after their meeting, they caused him to be clothed in a suit of black; and, in the course of a few weeks, he gave proof of extraordinary talent. He was, besides, very grateful, and laboured so earnestly in the service of his masters, that although in fact exceedingly attentive to his studies, it might well have been thought that he did nothing but wait upon those he served.
Now the good service of the valet led the masters to treat him well; Thomas soon became their companion rather than servant, and, during eight years, all of which he passed with them, he acquired for himself so high a reputation in the university, by his great ability and excellent conduct, that he was beloved and esteemed by those of every rank.
The principal object of Rodaja’s study was the law, but he was almost equally distinguished in polite learning, and his memory was matter of marvel to all; and the correctness of his views on all subjects was not less remarkable.