You may then be sent to hard labour in Africa."
"Has your case been heard yet?"
"They were at me about it for three hours yesterday."
"What kind of questions did they ask you?"
"They wished to know what banker furnished me with money for my expenses. I told them I had not got a banker, and that I lived by borrowing from my friends, in the expectation of becoming one of the king's body-guard. They then asked me how it was that the Parmese ambassador knew nothing about me, and I replied that I had never been presented to him.
"'Without the favour of your ambassador,' they objected, 'you could never join the royal guard, and you must be aware of that, but the king's majesty shall give you employment where you will stand in need of no commendation;' and so the alcalde left me. If the Venetian ambassador does not interpose in your behalf you will be treated in the same way."
I concealed my rage, and sat down on a bed, which I left after three hours, as I found myself covered with the disgusting vermin which seem endemic in Spain. The very sight of them made me sick. I stood upright, motionless, and silent, devouring the bile which consumed me.
There was no good in talking; I must write; but where was I to find writing materials? However, I resolved to wait in silence; my time must come, sooner or later.
At noon Marazzini told me that he knew a soldier for whose trustworthiness he would answer, and who would get me my dinner if I gave him the money.
"I have no appetite," I replied, "and I am not going to give a farthing to anyone till the stolen crown is restored to me."
He made an uproar over this piece of cheating, but the soldiers only laughed at him. My page then asked him to intercede with me, as he was hungry, and had no money wherewith to buy food.
"I will not give him a farthing; he is no longer in my service, and would to God I had never seen him!"
My companions in misery proceeded to dine on bad garlic soup and wretched bread, washed down by plain water, two priests and an individual who was styled corregidor excepted, and they seemed to fare very well.
At four o'clock one of Mengs's servants brought me a dinner which would have sufficed for four. He wanted to leave me the dinner and come for the plates in the evening; but not caring to share the meal with the vile mob around me I made him wait till I had done and come again at the same time the next day, as I did not require any supper. The servant obeyed. Marazzini said rudely that I might at least have kept the bottle of wine; but I gave him no answer.
At five o'clock Manucci appeared, accompanied by a Spanish officer. After the usual compliments had passed between us I asked the officer if I might write to my friends, who would not allow me to stay much longer in prison if they were advised of my arrest.
"We are no tyrants," he replied; "you can write what letters you like."
"Then," said I, "as this is a free country, is it allowable for a soldier who has received certain moneys to buy certain articles to pocket the money and appropriate it to his own use?"
"What is his name?"
The guard had been relieved, and no one seemed to know who or where he was.
"I promise you, sir," said the officer, "that the soldier shall be punished and your money restored to you; and in the meanwhile you shall have pens, ink, paper, a table, and a candle, immediately."
"And I," added Manucci, "promise you that one of the ambassador's servants shall wait on you at eight o'clock to deliver any letters you may write.
I took three crowns from my pocket, and told my fellow-prisoners that the first to name the soldier who had deceived me should have the money; Marazzini was the first to do so. The officer made a note of the man's name with a smile; he was beginning to know me; I had spent three crowns to get back one, and could not be very avaricious.
Manucci whispered to me that the ambassador would do his best in a confidential way to get my release, and that he had no doubt of his success.