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The Church Auctioneer and Clown of Villar

There is no law against such houses, but there is a popular prejudice.

José Carcunda was heard to say, after he had been guilty of drinking to excess when attired as Solomon, that his faithful dog Ponto refused to accompany him home on that occasion; “And as the creature stared at me,” said he, “I could see shame and sorrow mingling in his eyes.”

“There comes the Carcunda!” exclaimed the village belle, Belmira. “He is half hidden by the drum; but to-morrow we shall see him at early mass, when the good St. Anthony is to be raised to the rank of major.”

“Yes,” said her lover, Manoel; “and it will be a grand sight, for the priest showed me the Gazette in which is the king’s warrant. St. Anthony’s regiment is to arrive to-morrow, and after the image has donned the uniform the soldiers will present arms, the bombs will explode, rockets will be fired, and the band will play.”

As the musicians entered the village, heralding the grand entertainment to be held next day, the people cheered them heartily, and followed them to the church, situated on the top of a small hill, around which bonfires were in course of preparation for the night.

A cart laden with water-melons, another with a pipe of green wine, and a few stalls where sweetstuff was exposed for sale, formed the principal feature of the fair.

The door of the church was thrown open, and the main altar was lit up with many lights. The chapels on each side were festooned with garlands of flowers; but that dedicated to the miraculous St. Anthony, junior major in the 10th regiment of infantry, was the grandest of all, with its magnificent silk draperies, and the altar decorated with flowers.

José Carcunda was a proud man that day. He had presided over all the arrangements, and they had given great satisfaction. Belmira had set the other girls the example of showing him their gratitude by kissing him. He was so overwhelmed by their caresses that he tried to get clear of them, lest his wife might be jealous; but it was of no use trying to free himself, for they made him sit on a stone bench, and, handing him a guitar, requested him to extemporize some verses:—

“Fair ladies mine, I love the wine,

But music I love better;

Still stronger far than song divine,

I love the ladies better.

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