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The Church Auctioneer and Clown of Villar

But I am under a vow. I must tell her—I must; but it is so painful!’

“‘Senhor,’ I exclaimed, ‘you remind me of the Alcaide of Montijo, who hesitated to approach his mother-in-law until she was gloved. What you have to say, that say, and let me go my way.’

“‘Unthoughtful man!’ cried the student; ‘little you wot of the sad news I have to break to that poor creature! To you a mule is but a four-legged creature, the cathedral bell but a thing of brass, and the university but the abode of the black art. You are absolutely ignorant, sir,’ continued the student, ‘for which you have much to be thankful; for if you were a student you would not sell earthenware pans, and would therefore lose the profit which you now make; and were you a student, you would at this moment be all of a tremble, for you would then know that we are at this present moment standing over a frightful abyss that will soon yawn to receive its prey.’

“I was now terribly frightened lest the student, in his calculations, should have made the mistake of a minute, so I rushed to the foremost mule so as to get her to lead the way out of the danger; but the student prevented me, saying—

“‘Not that way, for you will fall into the pit. Let me first of all whisper my news into the mouse-coloured mule’s ear, and all may yet be well.’

“‘Hurry, then,’ said I, ‘or else we shall all be lost.’

“‘It is a very good thing to be in a hurry when you know what to do,’ answered the student; ‘but we must be cautious. Therefore, step lightly that way until you reach yonder lofty tree and get up it; but, before doing so, fill your pockets with stones.’

“I can assure you that I was not long in carrying out the student’s instructions, and never have I trod so lightly on the ground as I did that day. The student, as soon as he saw me half-way up the tree, shouted out, ‘Here it comes! Oh, this is awful—just as I told her all about it! Oh dear, oh dear!’

“I now noticed that the student was taking long jumps in the direction of the tree up which I had climbed, and at every jump he would call out, ‘Shut your eyes, or you will become blind!

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