This made Tadini furious, and he set upon the old professor in the street and forced him to the refuge in a house.
After this he no doubt left the town on foot, for he was seen no more. Now the reader is in a position to understand my surprise and amusement, when, one day as I peered through the grating in my dungeon, I saw the oculist Tadini standing over me with gun in hand. But he at all events evinced no amusement whatever, while I roared and roared again with laughter for the two hours his duty lasted.
I gave him a good meal and a sufficiency of my excellent wine, and at the end a crown, promising that he should have the same treatment every time he returned to the post. But I only saw him four times, as the guard at my cell was a position eagerly coveted and intrigued for by the other soldiers.
He amused me by the story of his misadventures since he had left Warsaw. He had travelled far and wide without making a fortune, and at last arrived in Barcelona, where he failed to meet with any courtesy or consideration. He had no introduction, no diploma; he had refused to submit to an examination in the Latin tongue, because (as he said) there was no connection between the learned languages and the diseases of the eye; and the result was that, instead of the common fate of being ordered to leave the country, he was made into a soldier. He told me in confidence that he intended to desert, but he said he should take care to avoid the galleys.
"What have you done with your crystals?"
"I have renounced them since I left Warsaw, though I am sure they would succeed."
I never heard of him again.
On December 28th, six weeks after my arrest, the officer of the guard came to my cell and told me to dress and follow him.
"Where are we going?"
"I am about to deliver you to an officer of the viceroy, who is waiting."
I dressed hastily, and after placing all my belongings in a portmanteau I followed him. We went to the guardroom, and there I was placed under the charge of the officer who had arrested me, who took me to the palace. There a Government official shewed me my trunk, telling me that I should find all my papers intact; and he then returned me my three passports, with the remark that they were genuine documents.
"I knew that all along."
"I suppose so, but we had reasons for doubting their authenticity."
"They must have been strange reasons, for, as you now confess, these reasons were devoid of reason."
"You must be aware that I cannot reply to such an objection."
"I don't ask you to do so."
"Your character is perfectly clear; all the same I must request you to leave Barcelona in three days, and Catalonia in a week."
"Of course I will obey; but it strikes me that the Catalonian method of repairing injustice is somewhat peculiar."
"If you think you have ground for complaint you are at liberty to go to Madrid and complain to the Court."
"I have certainly grounds enough for complaint, sir, but I shall go to France, and not to Madrid; I have had enough of Spanish justice. Will you please give me the order to leave in writing?"
"That's unnecessary; you may take it for granted. My name is Emmanuel Badillo; I am a secretary of state. That gentleman will escort you back to the room where you were arrested. You will find everything just as you have left it. You are a free man. To-morrow I will send you your passport, signed by the viceroy and myself. Good day, sir."
Accompanied by the officer and a servant bearing my portmanteau, I proceeded to my old inn.
On my way I saw a theatrical poster, and decided to go to the opera. The good landlord was delighted to see me again, and hastened to light me a fire, for a bitterly cold north wind was blowing. He assured me that no one but himself had been in my room, and in the officer's presence he gave me back my sword, my great coat, and, to my astonishment, the hat I had dropped in my flight from the assassins.
The officer asked me if I had any complaints to make, and I replied that I had none.