CH. III. -- Preparations for the marriage of Gil Blas. A spoke in the wheel of Hymen.

 

AND now once more for my lovely Gabriela! We were to be married in a week. Preparations were making on both sides for the ceremony. Salero ordered a rich wardrobe for the bride, and I hired a waiting-woman for her, a footman, and a gentleman usher of decent aspect and advanced years. The whole establishment was provided by Scipio, who longed more longingly than myself for the hour when we were to be fingering the fortune.

On the evening before the happy day, I was supping with my father-in-law, the rest of the company being made up of uncles, aunts, and cousins of either sex and every degree. The part of a supple-visaged son-in-law sat upon me to perfection. Nothing could exceed my profound respect for the goldsmith and his wife, or the transports of my passion at Gabriela's feet, while I smoothed my way into the graces of the family, by listening with impregnable patience to their witless repartees and irrational ratiocinations. Thus did I gain the great end of all my forbearance, the pleasure of pleasing my new relations. Every individual of the clan felt himself a foot taller for the honour of my alliance.

The repast ended, the company moved into a large room, where we were entertained with a concert of vocal and instrumental music, not the worst that was ever heard, though the performers were not selected from the choicest bands at Madrid. Some lively airs put us in mind of dancing. Heaven knows what sort of performers we must have been, when they took me for the Coryphaeus of the opera, though I never had but two or three lessons from a petty dancing-master, who taught the pages on the establishment of the Marchioness de Chaves. After we had tired our tendons, it was time to think of going home. There was no end of my bows and God-bless-you's. Farewell, my dear son-in-law, said Salero as he squeezed my hand, I shall be at your house in the morning with the portion in ready money. You will be welcome, come when you list, my dear father-in-law, answered I. Afterwards, wishing the family good night, I jumped into my carriage, and ordered it to drive home.

Scarcely had I got two hundred yards from Signor Gabriel's house, when fifteen or twenty men, some on foot and some on horseback, all with swords and fire-arms, surrounded and stopped the coach, crying out, In the name of our sovereign lord the king. They dragged me out by main force, and thrust me into a hack-chaise, when the leader of the party got in with me, and ordered the driver to go for Segovia. There could be no doubt but the honest gentle man by my side was an alguazil. I wanted to know something about the cause of my arrest, but he answered in the language of those gentry, which is very bad language, that he had other things to do than to satisfy my impertinent curiosity. I suggested that he might have mistaken his man. No, no, retorted he, the fool is wiser than that. You are Signor de Santillane; and in that case you are to go along with me. Not being able to deny that fact, it became an act of prudence to hold my tongue. For the remainder of the night we traversed Mancanarez in sulky silence, changed horses at Colmenar, and arrived the next evening at Segovia, where the lodging provided for me was in the tower.

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