The S—— family wasone of the richest in Wallachia, and consequently one of the most famous. Thehead of the family dictated to twelve boyars, collected hearth-money andtithes from four-and-fifty villages, lived nine months in the year atStambul, held the Sultan's bridle when he mounted his steed in time of war,contributed two thousand lands-knechts to the host of the Pasha of Macedonia,and had permission to keep on his slippers when he entered the inner court ofthe Seraglio.
In the year 1600 and something, Georgewas the name of the first-born of the S—— family, but with him we shall nothave very much concern. We shall do much better to follow the fortunes of thesecond born, Michael, whom his family had sent betimes to Bucharest to bebrought up as a priest in the Seminary there. The youth had, however, aremarkably thick head, and, so far from making any great progress in thesciences, was becoming quite an ancient classman, when he suddenly marriedthe daughter of a sub-deacon, and buried himself in a little village inWallachia. There he spent a good many years of his life with scarcesufficient stipend to clothe him decently, and had he not tilled his soilwith his own hands, he would have been hard put to it to find maize-cakesenough to live upon.
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