He bade me tell you that your release would be delayed till the afternoon, that you may have full satisfaction for the affront you have received, if it is an affront, for the penalties of the law only dishonour the guilty. In this instance the Alcalde Messa has been deceived by the rascal who was in your service."
"There he is," said I. "Be good enough to have him removed, or else, in my indignation, I might kill him."
"He shall be taken away this moment," he replied.
The colonel went out, and two minutes later two soldiers came in and took the rogue away between them. I never saw him again, and never troubled myself to enquire what had become of him.
The colonel begged me to accompany him to the guard-room, to see the thieving soldier flogged. Manucci was at my side, and at some little distance stood the Count of Aranda, surrounded by officers, and accompanied by a royal guard.
The business kept us there for a couple of hours. Before leaving me the colonel begged me to meet Mengs at dinner at his house.
When I returned to my filthy prison I found a clean arm-chair, which I was informed had been brought in for me. I sat down in it immediately, and Manucci left me, after embracing me again and again. He was my sincere friend, and I can never forgive myself the stupidity which made me offend him grievously. He never forgave me, at which I am not surprised, but I believe my readers will agree with me in thinking that he carried his vengeance too far.
After the scene which had taken place, the vile crowd of prisoners stood gazing at me in stupid silence, and Marazzini came up to me and begged me to use my offices for him.
Dinner was brought me as usual, and at three o'clock the Alcalde Messa appeared and begged me to follow him, as he had received orders to take me back to my lodging, where he hoped I should find everything in perfect order. At the same time he shewed me my arms, which one of his men was going to bring to my house. The officer of the guard returned me my sword, the alcalde, who was in his black cloak, put himself on my left hand, and thus I was escorted home with a guard of thirty constables. The seals were removed from my apartment, and after a brief inspection I pronounced that everything was in perfect order.
"If you had not a rascal and a traitor (who shall end his days in the galleys) in your service, Senor Caballero, you would never have written down the servants of his Catholic majesty as scoundrels."
"Senor Alcalde, my indignation made me write the same sentence to four of his majesty's ministers. Then I believed what I wrote, but I do so no longer. Let us forget and forgive; but you must confess that if I had not known how to write a letter you would have sent me to the galleys."
"Alas! it is very likely."
I need not say that I hastened to remove all traces of the vile prison where I had suffered so much. When I was ready to go out my first grateful visit was paid to the noble cobbler. The worthy man was proud of the fulfilment of his prophecy, and glad to see me again. Donna Ignazia was wild with delight--perhaps she had not been so sure of my release--and when Don Diego heard of the satisfaction that had been given me he said that a grandee of Spain could not have asked for more. I begged the worthy people to come and dine with me, telling them that I would name the day another time, and they accepted gladly.
I felt that my love for Donna Ignazia had increased immensely since our last meeting.
Afterwards I called on Mengs, who with his knowledge of Spanish law expected nothing less than to see me. When he heard of my triumphant release he overwhelmed me with congratulations. He was in his Court dress--an unusual thing with him, and on my asking him the reason he told me that he had been to Don Emmanuel de Roda's to speak on my behalf, but had not succeeded in obtaining an audience. He gave me a Venetian letter which had just arrived for me. I opened it, and found it was from M. Dandolo, and contained an enclosure for M.