"I should like to hear you say that I had done nothing but my duty, and that personally I have not done you any injury."
I shook his hand, and assured him of my esteem.
"Farewell, sir," said he, "I hope you will have a pleasant journey." I told my landlord that I would dine at noon, and that I trusted to him to celebrate my liberation in a fitting manner, and then I went to the post office to see if there were any letters for me. I found five or six letters, with the seals intact, much to my astonishment. What is one to make of a Government which deprives a man of his liberty on some trifling pretext, and, though seizing all his papers, respects the privacy of his letters? But Spain, as I have remarked, is peculiar in every way. These letters were from Paris, Venice, Warsaw, and Madrid, and I have never had any reason to believe that any other letters had come for me during my imprisonment.
I went back to my inn, and asked my landlord to bring the bill.
"You do not owe me anything, sir. Here is your bill for the period preceding your imprisonment, and, as you see, it has been settled. I also received orders from the same source to provide for you during your imprisonment, and as long as you stayed at Barcelona."
"Did you know how long I should remain in prison?"
"No, I was paid by the week."
"Who paid you?"
"You know very well."
"Have you had any note for me?"
"Nothing at all."
"What has become of the valet de place?"
"I paid him, and sent him away immediately after your arrest."
"I should like to have him with me as far as Perpignan."
"You are right, and I think the best thing you can do is to leave Spain altogether, for you will find no justice in it."
"What do they say about my assassination?"
"Why, they say you fired the shot that people heard yourself, and that you made your own sword bloody, for no one was found there, either dead or wounded."
"That's an amusing theory. Where did my hat come from?"
"It was brought to me three days after."
"What a confusion! But was it known that I was imprisoned in the tower?"
"Everybody knew it, and two good reasons were given, the one in public, and the other in private."
"What are these reasons?"
"The public reason was that you had forged your passports; the private one, which was only whispered at the ear, was that you spent all your nights with Nina."
"You might have sworn that I never slept out of your inn."
"I told everyone as much, but no matter; you did go to her house, and for a certain nobleman that's a crime. I am glad you did not fly as I advised you, for as it is your character is cleared before everybody."
"I should like to go to the opera this evening; take me a box."
"It shall be done; but do not have anything more to do with Nina, I entreat you."
"No, my good friend, I have made up my mind to see her no more."
Just as I was sitting down to dinner, a banker's clerk brought me a letter which pleased me very much. It contained the bills of exchange I had drawn in Genoa, in favour of M. Augustin Grimaldi. He now sent them back, with these words:
"Passano has been vainly endeavouring to persuade me to send these bills to Barcelona, so that they may be protested, and you arrested. I now send them to you to convince you that I am not one of those who delight in trampling down the victims of bad fortune.
"--Genoa, November 30th, 1768."
For the fourth time a Genoese had behaved most generously to me. I was almost persuaded that I ought to forgive the infamous Passano for the sake of his four excellent fellow-countrymen.
But this virtue was a little beyond me. I concluded that the best thing I could do would be to rid the Genoese name of the opprobrium which this rascal was always bringing on it, but I could never find an opportunity. Some years after I heard that the wretch died in miserable poverty in Genoa.
I was curious at the time to know what had become of him, as it was important for me to be on my guard. I confided my curiosity to my landlord, and he instructed one of the servants to make enquiries.