Rinconete and Cortadillo part 11

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“I always thought,” said Cortado, “that thieving was a free trade, without any duty or impost; and if the professors paid at all, it was only at the stocks, or over the back and shoulders. But as every country has its own peculiar regulations, so we shall be happy to conform to yours, if we might make bold to ask a gentleman of your respectable appearance, to guide us to the abode of the worthy cavalier of whom you speak, where we will prove our proficiency in the science.”

“That is well”, said the other, “and you will see how well qualified our master is for his situation. Why! during the four years he has had charge of us, not more than four have suffered the capital punishment. But come along, and on the road I will explain to you a little of our vocabulary, which it will be necessary for you to know.”

During this walk, which was not very short, their new acquaintance instructed them in the language of the craft, very much to the edification of the novice. “And pray, sir,” asked Rincon, “may I venture to inquire whether you are a thief yourself?” “Yes, sir; that is to say, by the blessing of God and the prayers of good people, I hope I shall be, although I am not yet out of my novitiate.”

“Well,” said Cortado, “you will excuse me for the remark; but although I have seen and heard a good deal, I never yet heard of thieving by the grace of God and the prayers of good people.”

Doubtless that gentleman

“Sir,” replied the guide, “I am no theologian, and therefore cannot argue on the subject; but this I know, that everybody ought to praise God in the vocation to which Providence has been pleased to call him; and the more so as our master Monipodio has expressly ordered it.” “Doubtless that gentleman must be of a very religious turn,” said Rincon, “since he makes his thieves praise God.”

“He is the most exemplary man of our profession,” returned the youth; “he orders that a part of everything which is stolen shall be set apart to buy oil for the lamp of an image in the city, which is possessed of marvelous virtue. Indeed, we have all seen the good effects of it; for it was but the other day, when a friend of ours was condemned to punishment for stealing two asses, and he bore it without a single cry, as though it was nothing, which can only be attributed to our regular devotion. And you must know that some of our club are so particular that they will not steal on a Friday, nor hold conversation with any woman on a Sabbath whose name is Mary.”

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