I was anxious to test the skill of my cook, so I ordered her to get a good supper for me, and I gave her some money.
"I have some money," she replied, "and I will let you have the bill to- morrow."
After taking away whatever I had left with Mengs I went to Don Diego's house, and to my astonishment found it empty. I went back and asked Philippe, my man, where Don Diego was staying.
"It's some distance, sir; I will take you there tomorrow."
"Where is my landlord?"
"In the floor above; but they are very quiet people."
"I should like to see him."
"He is gone out and won't be home till ten."
At nine o'clock I was told that my supper was ready. I was very hungry, and the neatness with which the table was laid was a pleasant surprise in Spain. I was sorry that I had had no opportunity of expressing my satisfaction to Don Diego, but I sat down to supper. Then indeed I thought the cobbler a hero; the Biscayan maid might have entered into rivalry with the best cook in France. There were five dishes, including my favourite delicacy 'las criadillas', and everything was exquisite. My lodging was dear enough, but the cook made the whole arrangement a wonderful bargain.
Towards the end of supper Philippe told me that the landlord had come in, and that with my leave he would wish me a good evening.
"Shew him in by all means."
I saw Don Diego and his charming daughter enter; he had rented the house on purpose to be my landlord.
My Amours With Donna Ignazia--Return of M. de Mocenino to Madrid
All you barons, counts, and marquises who laugh at an untitled man who calls himself a gentleman, pause and reflect, spare your disdain till you have degraded him; allow him a gentle title so long as he does gentle deeds. Respect the man that defines nobility in a new way, which you cannot understand. With him nobility is not a series of descents from father to son; he laughs at pedigrees, in which no account is taken of the impure blood introduced by wifely infidelities; he defines a nobleman as one who does noble deeds, who neither lies nor cheats, who prefers his honour to his life.
This latter part of the definition should make you tremble for your lives, if you meditate his dishonour. From imposture comes contempt, from contempt hatred, from hatred homicide, which takes out the blot of dishonour.
The cobbler Don Diego might have feared, perhaps, that I should laugh at him, when he told me he was noble; but feeling himself to be really so he had done his best to prove it to me. The fineness of his behaviour when I was in prison had given me some idea of the nobility of his soul, but he was not content with this. On the receipt of my letter, he had taken a new house only to give up the best part of it to me. No doubt he calculated on not losing in the long run, as after I had left he would probably have no difficulty in letting the apartment, but his chief motive was to oblige me.
He was not disappointed; henceforth I treated him entirely as an equal. Donna Ignazia was delighted at what her father had done for me. We talked an hour, settling our business relations over a bottle of excellent wine. I succeeded in my contention that the Biscayan cook should be kept at my expense. All the same, I wanted the girl to think that she was in Don Diego's service, so I begged him to pay her every day, as I should take all my meals at home, at all events, till the return of the ambassador. I also told him that it was a penance to me to eat alone, and begged him to keep me company at dinner and supper every day. He tried to excuse himself, and at last gave in on the condition that his daughter should take his place when he had too much work to do. As may be imagined I had anticipated this condition, and made no difficulty about it.
The next morning, feeling curious to see the way in which my landlord was lodged, I paid him a visit. I went into the little room sacred to Donna Ignazia. A bed, a chest, and a chair made up the whole furniture; but beside the bed was a desk before a picture, four feet high, representing St.