TENTH DAY.
Knavish Provedore. - Leave the Caldas. - Obidos. - Aboriginal-looking
hamlet. - Exquisite Atmosphere. - Pastoral Hymns to St. Anthony. - Bonfires
on the Eve of his Festival. - Reception at Cadafaiz. - Delightful change.
WE have been all cheated at a ferocious rate by one of those harpies
called provedores, who, under the mask of administering justice, and
superintending hospitals, and so forth, contrive to divert every little
rill of royal beneficence into their own pockets. This knave was so
accustomed to the sweets of monopolies, that be bought up half the fowls,
turkeys, and provisions in the place, and then dealt them out to our
numerous caravan at his  own price. I refused seeing this cormorant;
which was lucky, as I understood he joins insolence to knavery, - a
compound which would have called forth my best manual exertions, occasioned
delay, and very probably given but too much employment to Doctor Ehrhart.
It was so delightful a morning, - so temperate, for there were not any
clouds - so balsamic, for a slight shower had lately fallen, - that
I could not find it in my heart to be out of humour long. We had not
left the Caldas in arrear half an hour, before we saw Obidos, with its
towers and battlemented walls, rising above a forest of pines, and connected
with the neighbouring hills by a long stretch of aqueduct. These hills
being clothed with a thick vegetation of dwarf ilex, and myrtle, look
at a distance as uniformly green as if covered with turf.
Cercal, where our dinner was prepared, is a pleasant little assemblage
of reed-  covered sloping sheds and pointed hovels, at the feet
of shrubby acclivities. Before the entrance of this aboriginal-looking
hamlet, is an irregular lawn, bounded by inclosures with bamboo fences,
twined over with convolvuli of various colours, forming a labyrinth
of cheerful lanes, through which whole families of turkeys, consequential
fathers, bustling mothers, slim aunts, and half-fledged cousins, were
wandering about, clucking, and whistling, and gobbling, with all the
well-known volubility of their native language.
Though mid-day and in mid-June, the heat was moderate; the sky, of a
pale tender blue, inexpressibly serene and beautiful. To breathe the
soft air of such a climate, is in itself no trifling luxury; it seemed
to inspire new life into every vein: and if to those gifts of Nature
the blessings of a free government and the refinements of art were added,
more philosophy than I am master of would be  required, not to
murmur at the shortness of our existence.
Our road in the evening lay between lofty slopes partially covered with
bushes of rosemary and lavender in the fullest bloom. The sun went down
behind the chain of hills which form the coast of the sea, just as we
reached a quinta belonging to Forjaz, at present governor of Madeira.
As we approached the rich cultivated plains framed in by the hills around
Cadafaiz, we heard the country people, men, women, and children, singing
hymns to Saint Anthony as they returned home from reaping.
Near Carregado we left the high road to take that of Cadafaiz. The whole
country was blazing with fires in honour of to-morrow's festival. I
counted above one hundred shining bright amongst the olive-trees; whilst
a number of grotesque figures, withered hags, and meagre implings, kept
glancing about before them,  in the style of those visions the
illuminati often contrive to conjure up, to delude and bamboozle their
dupes and victims.
At Cadafaiz itself, that most comfortable of rustic manorial mansions,
the Prior of St. Vincent's, who had preceded us above an hour in his
light chaise, drawn by two potent mules, was waiting our arrival. The
Prior of Aviz uttered a hearty "thank God," as he sunk down
in an arm-chair of most ample dimensions. Dr. Ehrhart recommended us
all to dilute, after his example, as freely as possible; and Franchi
unpacked his piano-forte. Recollections of the Caldas and all its apothecaries,
- not to mention its dust, its glare, its bustle, and its onions, -
made me value the calm and cleanliness of this retired abode still more
highly. O the delightful, refreshing change! Were I to live as many
years as I have often been wished to do by my good friends the Spaniards,
I should not forget how keenly I enjoyed it.