“I am afraid,” said Lady Mabel, “that their cleanly superstition will make me almost regret the expulsion of the Moors.”
The commissary was now bustling about, hurrying the preparations for breakfast, and L’Isle went to see if the servants were getting ready for the journey; but Mrs. Shortridge, full of the annoyances she had suffered, continued to denounce their small enemies. Her talk was of vermin.
Lady Mabel, thinking the subject had been sufficiently discussed, interrupted her, saying, “you do not take the most philosophical and poetical view of the subject. Is it not consolatory to reflect, that while men, on suffering a reverse of fortune, too often experience nothing but ingratitude and desertion from their fellows, and sadly learn that
“’Tis ever thus: Those
shadows we call friends,
Attend us through the sunshine of success,
To vanish in adversity’s dark hour.”
“Yet there are followers that adhere to them in their fallen fortunes with more than canine fidelity, sticking to them like their sins, clinging to their persons, cleaving to their garments, with an attachment and in numbers that grow with their patron’s destitution.”
“But I maintain,” Mrs. Shortridge replied, “that it is not only the poor and destitute that here support such a retinue. I have repeatedly seen in Lisbon, and elsewhere, young ladies, and among others a young widow of high rank, the sister of the Bishop of Oporto, lying with her head in the lap of her friend, who parted the locks of her hair to search—”
“Stop!” said Lady Mabel, laying her hand on Mrs. Shortridge’s mouth, “you need not chase those small deer any further through the wood. Leave that privileged sport to the natives.”
Breakfast was now ready, and Shortridge called to the ladies to lose no time. L’Isle, seeing the young friar in front of the venda, brought him in and seated him beside him. He pressed upon him many good things, which the house did not furnish; and this being no fast-day, the friar eat a meal better proportioned to his youth, his bulk, and his health, than his last night’s meagre fare. He showed his patriotism by his approval of one of those hams of marvelous flavor, the boast of Portugal, the product of her swine, not stuffed into obesity in prison, but gently swelling to rotundity while ranging the free forest, and selecting the bolotas, and other acorns, as they drop fresh from the boughs. The friar was not so busy with his meal but what he continued to observe his new friends closely, and while the servants were getting their breakfast, he seized the leisure afforded to converse with L’Isle, and with Lady Mabel through him. After many questions asked and answered, the friar became thoughtful and abstracted, as if he had been brought in contact with a new class of persons and ideas, which he could not at once comprehend.
L’Isle now asked him, “When and why he had put on St. Francis’ frock?”