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Carvalho
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The Metamorphosis








By The Editor.

_Relates how a Spanish Bishop, not being able to procure fish, ate
two partridges on a Friday, and how he told his servants that he had
converted them by his prayers into fish--as will more plainly be related
below._


If you wish, you shall hear now, before it is too late, a little story
about a brave Spanish Bishop who went to Rome to transact some business
for his master the King of Castille.

This brave prelate, whom I intend to make furnish this last story,
arrived one day at a little village in Lombardy, it being then early on
a Friday evening, and ordered his steward to have supper early, and to
go into the town and buy what he could, for he (the Bishop) was very
hungry, not having broken his fast all that day.

His servant obeyed him, and went to the market, and to all the
fishmongers in the town, to procure some fish, but, to make the story
short, not a single fish, in spite of all the efforts made by the
steward, could be found.

But, on returning to the inn, he met a countryman, who had two fine
partridges which he would sell very cheaply. The steward thought he
would secure them, and they would serve to make the Bishop a feast on
Sunday.

He bought them, a great bargain, and came to his master with the two
partridges in his hand, all alive, and fat, and plump, and told him of
his failure to get any fish, at which my Lord was not best pleased.

"And what can we have for supper?"

"My Lord," replied the steward, "I will get them to prepare you eggs in
a hundred thousand different ways, and you can have apples and pears.
Our host has also some rich cheese. We will do our best; have patience,
a supper is soon over, and you shall fare better to-morrow, God willing.
We shall be in a town which is much better provided with fish than this,
and on Sunday you cannot fail to dine well, for here are two partridges
which are plump and succulent."

The Bishop looked at the two partridges, and found them as the steward
said, plump, and in good condition, so he thought they would take the
place of the fish which he had lost. So he caused them to be killed and
prepared for the spit.

When the steward saw that his master wished to have them roasted, he was
astounded, and said to his master;

"My lord, it is well to kill them, but to roast them now for Sunday
seems a pity."

But the steward lost his time, for, in spite of his remonstrances, they
were put on the spit and roasted.

The good prelate watched them cooking, and the poor steward was
scandalized, and did not know what to make of his master's ill-ordered
appetite.

When the partridges were roasted, the table laid, the wine brought in,
eggs cooked in various ways, and served to a turn, the prelate seated
himself, said grace, and asked for the partridges, with mustard.

His steward wished to know what his master would do with these birds,
and brought them to him fresh from the fire, and emitting an odour
enough to make a friar's mouth water.

The good Bishop attacked the partridges, and began to cut and eat with
such haste, that he did not give his squire, who came to carve for him,
sufficient time to lay his bread, and sharpen his knife.

When the steward saw his master eating the birds, he was so amazed that
he could no longer keep silent, and said to him;

"Oh, my lord, what are you doing? Are you a Jew or a Saracen, that you
do not keep Friday? By my faith, I am astonished at such doings."

"Hold your tongue! Hold your tongue!" said the good prelate, who had
his hands and his beard covered with fat and gravy. "You are a fool,
and know not what you are saying. I am doing no harm. You know well and
believe, that by the words spoken by me and other priests, we make of
the host, which is nothing but flour and water, the precious body of
Jesus Christ. Can I not by the same means?--I who have seen so many
things at the court of Rome and many other places--know by what words
I may transform these partridges, which are flesh, into fish, although
they still retain the form of partridges? So indeed I have done. I have
long known how to do this. They were no sooner put to the fire than by
certain words I know, I so charmed them that I converted them into the
substance of fish, and you might--all of you who are here--eat, as I do,
without sin. But as you would still believe them to be flesh, they would
do you harm, so I alone will commit the sin."

The steward and the other attendants began to laugh, and pretended to
believe the highly-coloured story that their master had told them, and
ever after that were up to the trick, and related it joyously in many
places.


*****





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