THE ADVENTURE OF THE MASON
 "THERE was once upon a time a poor mason, or brick-layer, in Granada, who kept all the saints' days and holidays, and
yet, with all his devotion, he grew poorer and poorer, and could scarcely earn bread for his numerous family.
One night he was roused from his first sleep by a knocking at his door. He opened it, and beheld before him a
tall, meagre, cadaverous-looking person.
"'Hark ye, honest friend!' said the stranger; 'I have observed that you are a good Christian, and one to be
trusted; will you undertake a job this very night?'
"'With all my heart, Seņor, on condition that I am paid accordingly.'
"'That you shall be; but you must suffer yourself to be blindfolded.'
"To this the mason made no objection. So, being hood-winked, he was led by the stranger through various rough
lanes and winding passages, until they stopped before the portal of a house. The stranger then applied a key,
turned a creaking lock, and opened what sounded like a ponderous door. They entered, the door was closed and
bolted, and the mason was conducted through an echoing corridor and a spacious hall to an interior part of the
 the bandage was removed from his eyes, and he found himself in a court, dimly lighted by a single lamp. In the
centre was the dry basin of an old Moorish fountain, under which the stranger requested him to form a small
vault, bricks and mortar being at hand for the purpose. He accordingly worked all night, but without finishing
the job. Just before daybreak the stranger put a piece of gold into his hand, and having again blindfolded
him, conducted him back to his dwelling.
"'Are you willing,' said he, 'to return and complete your work?'
"'Gladly, Seņor, provided I am so well paid.'
"'Well, then, to-morrow at midnight I will call again.'" He did so, and the vault was completed.
"'Now,' said the stranger, 'you must help me to bring forth the bodies that are to be buried in this vault.'
"The poor mason's hair rose on his head at these words: he followed the stranger, with trembling steps, into a
retired chamber of the mansion, expecting to behold some ghastly spectacle of death, but was relieved on
perceiving three or four portly jars standing in one corner. They were evidently full of money, and it was
with great labor that he and the stranger carried them forth and consigned them to their tomb. The vault was
then closed, the pavement replaced, and all traces of the work were obliterated. The mason was again
hoodwinked and led forth by a route different from that by which he had come. After they had wandered for a
long time through a perplexed maze of lanes and alleys, they halted, The stranger then put two pieces of gold
into his hand: 'Wait here,' said he, 'until you hear the cathedral bell toll for matins. If you presume
 to uncover your eyes before that time, evil will befall you': so saying, he departed. The mason waited
faithfully, amusing himself by weighing the gold pieces in his hand, and clinking them against each other. The
moment the cathedral bell rang its matin peal, he uncovered his eyes, and found himself on the banks of the
Xenil; whence he made the best of his way home, and revelled with his family for a whole fortnight on the
profits of his two nights' work; after which he was as poor as ever.
"He continued to work a little, and keep saints' days and holidays, from year to year, while his family grew
up as gaunt and ragged as a crew of gipsies. As he was seated one evening at the door of his hovel, he was
accosted by a rich old curmudgeon, who was noted for owning many houses, and being a griping landlord. The man
of money eyed him for a moment from beneath a pair of anxious shagged eyebrows.
"'I am told, friend, that you are very poor.'
"'There is no denying the fact, Seņor,—it speaks for itself.'
'I presume, then, that you will be glad of a job, and will work cheap.'
"'As cheap, my master, as any mason in Granada.'
"'That's what I want. I have an old house fallen into decay, which costs me more money than it is worth to
keep it in repair, for nobody will live in it; so I must contrive to patch it up and keep it together at as
small expense as possible.'
"The mason was accordingly conducted to a large deserted house that seemed going to ruin. Passing through
several empty halls and chambers, he entered an inner
 court, where his eye was caught by an old Moorish fountain. He paused for a moment, for a dreaming
recollection of the place came over him.
"'Pray,' said he, 'who occupied this house formerly?'
"'A pest upon him!' cried the landlord; 'it was an old miser, who cared for nobody but himself. He was said to
be immensely rich, and, having no relations, it was thought he would leave all his treasures to the Church. He
died suddenly, but nothing could be found but a few ducats in a leathern purse. The worst luck has fallen on
me, for, since his death, the old fellow continues to occupy my house without paying rent, and there is no
taking the law of a dead man. The people pretend to hear the clinking of gold all night in the chamber where
the old miser slept, as if he were counting over his money, and sometimes a groaning and moaning about the
court. Whether true or false, these stories have brought a bad name on my house, and not a tenant will remain
'Enough,' said the mason sturdily: 'let me live in your house rent-free until some better tenant present, and
I will engage to put it in repair, and to quiet the troubled spirit that disturbs it. I am a good Christian
and a poor man, and am not to be daunted by the Devil himself, even though he should come in the shape of a
big bag of money!'
"The offer of the honest mason was gladly accepted; he moved with his family into the house, and fulfilled all
his engagements. By little and little he restored it to its former state; the clinking of gold was no more
heard at night in the chamber of the defunct miser, but began
 to be heard by day in the pocket of the living mason. In a word, he increased rapidly in wealth, to the
admiration of all his neighbors, became one of the richest men in Granada, and never revealed the secret of
the vault until on his death-bed to his son and heir."
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