“Sir,” replied he, “I possess a little spice of art; I can handle cards well, know how to turn an ace to a king, and little maneuvers of that sort. I know the table of chances better than the ten commandments, and have learnt that a stolen guinea is better than a borrowed crown.” “That is very good as a beginning,” said Monipodio, “but, as you must be aware, these are merely the groundwork of the art. However, with the assistance of a dozen lessons, by the blessing of God, I hope to . make you a respectable artist.” Rinconete bowed, and returned thanks to the master, who called on Cortadillo to state his qualifications.
“Sir,” said Cortadillo, “I have learnt the rule of arithmetic, which »ays, `put in two and take out five`; and I know how to dive into a pocket with ease and safety.”
“Is that all?” said Monipodio. “That is all, to my misfortune,” said Cortadillo.
“Never mind,” said the professor, “you are in a good school, where, doubtless, you will soon improve, if you will follow my instructions.
“We have all the desire to improve in everything that touches our Art and occupation,” replied Rinconete.
“Very good,” said Monipodio, “but I should like to know how you could endure, upon occasion, a dozen lashes without opening your lips, even as much as to say, `This mouth is mine.`”
“We are not so misinstructed,” said Cortadillo, “as not to know, that what the tongue borrows sometimes the throat pays; and heaven have mercy on the poor devil who does not know it is as easy to say no, as yes.”
Compliment the newly elected brother
“That is enough,” said Monipodio, “I see you are a youth of talent; I am quite satisfied with you, and shall enter you forthwith on our company as a full member, without serving any novitiate, or paying any duty.” The company declared their full approbation of the award of their superior, and complimented the newly elected brother; when one of the sentinels came running in, saying, that the alguazil of vagabonds was coming towards the house at full speed.
“You need not disturb yourselves,” said Monipodio to his friends, some of whom began to evidence signs of embarrassment, “this alguazil is a particular friend of mine, and never comes with any hostile intention; I will presently see what he wants.” Every one was quieted with this intimation, and Monipodio went to the door to speak to his friend, with whom he was some little time in conversation. On his return, he asked who had occupied the square of San Salvador that morning.
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