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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 669 pages of information about Lavengro; the Scholar, the Gypsy, the Priest.

And, with this last word in his mouth, he departed.

‘Is that man a native of Spain?’ I demanded.

‘Not a native of Spain,’ said the Armenian, ’though he is one of those who call themselves Spanish Jews, and who are to be found scattered throughout Europe, speaking the Spanish language transmitted to them by their ancestors, who were expelled from Spain in the time of Ferdinand and Isabella.’

‘The Jews are a singular people,’ said I.

‘A race of cowards and dastards,’ said the Armenian, ’without a home or country; servants to servants; persecuted and despised by all.’

‘And what are the Haiks?’ I demanded.

‘Very different from the Jews,’ replied the Armenian; ’the Haiks have a home—­a country, and can occasionally use a good sword; though it is true they are not what they might be.’

‘Then it is a shame that they do not become so,’ said I; ’but they are too fond of money.  There is yourself, with two hundred thousand pounds in your pocket, craving for more, whilst you might be turning your wealth to the service of your country.’

‘In what manner?’ said the Armenian.

’I have heard you say that the grand oppressor of your country is the Persian; why not attempt to free your country from his oppression—­you have two hundred thousand pounds, and money is the sinew of war?’

‘Would you, then, have me attack the Persian?’

’I scarcely know what to say; fighting is a rough trade, and I am by no means certain that you are calculated for the scratch.  It is not every one who has been brought up in the school of Mr. Petulengro and Tawno Chikno.  All I can say is, that if I were an Armenian, and had two hundred thousand pounds to back me, I would attack the Persian.’

‘Hem!’ said the Armenian.

CHAPTER LI

The one half-crown—­Merit in patience—­Cementer of friendship—­Dreadful perplexity—­The usual guttural—­Armenian letters—­Much indebted to you—­Pure helplessness—­Dumb people.

One morning on getting up I discovered that my whole worldly wealth was reduced to one half-crown—­throughout that day I walked about in considerable distress of mind; it was now requisite that I should come to a speedy decision with respect to what I was to do; I had not many alternatives, and, before I had retired to rest on the night of the day in question, I had determined that I could do no better than accept the first proposal of the Armenian, and translate under his superintendence the Haik Esop into English.

I reflected, for I made a virtue of necessity, that, after all, such an employment would be an honest and honourable one; honest, inasmuch as by engaging in it I should do harm to nobody; honourable, inasmuch as it was a literary task, which not every one was capable of executing. it was not every one of the booksellers’ writers of London who was competent to translate the Haik Esop.  I determined to accept the offer of the Armenian.

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