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Miqeul de Cervantes >> Don Quixote (page 104)


Just at this moment there came in at the gate of the inn a manentirely clad in chamois leather, hose, breeches, and doublet, whosaid in a loud voice, "Senor host, have you room? Here's thedivining ape and the show of the Release of Melisendra just coming."

"Ods body!" said the landlord, "why, it's Master Pedro! We're in fora grand night!" I forgot to mention that the said Master Pedro had hisleft eye and nearly half his cheek covered with a patch of greentaffety, showing that something ailed all that side. "Your worshipis welcome, Master Pedro," continued the landlord; "but where arethe ape and the show, for I don't see them?" "They are close at hand,"said he in the chamois leather, "but I came on first to know ifthere was any room." "I'd make the Duke of Alva himself clear out tomake room for Master Pedro," said the landlord; "bring in the apeand the show; there's company in the inn to-night that will pay to seethat and the cleverness of the ape." "So be it by all means," said theman with the patch; "I'll lower the price, and he well satisfied ifI only pay my expenses; and now I'll go back and hurry on the cartwith the ape and the show;" and with this he went out of the inn.

Don Quixote at once asked the landlord what this Master Pedro was,and what was the show and what was the ape he had with him; whichthe landlord replied, "This is a famous puppet-showman, who for sometime past has been going about this Mancha de Aragon, exhibiting ashow of the release of Melisendra by the famous Don Gaiferos, one ofthe best and best-represented stories that have been seen in this partof the kingdom for many a year; he has also with him an ape with themost extraordinary gift ever seen in an ape or imagined in a humanbeing; for if you ask him anything, he listens attentively to thequestion, and then jumps on his master's shoulder, and pressingclose to his ear tells him the answer which Master Pedro thendelivers. He says a great deal more about things past than aboutthings to come; and though he does not always hit the truth in everycase, most times he is not far wrong, so that he makes us fancy he hasgot the devil in him. He gets two reals for every question if theape answers; I mean if his master answers for him after he haswhispered into his ear; and so it is believed that this same MasterPedro is very rich. He is a 'gallant man' as they say in Italy, andgood company, and leads the finest life in the world; talks morethan six, drinks more than a dozen, and all by his tongue, and hisape, and his show."

Master Pedro now came back, and in a cart followed the show andthe ape- a big one, without a tail and with buttocks as bare asfelt, but not vicious-looking. As soon as Don Quixote saw him, heasked him, "Can you tell me, sir fortune-teller, what fish do wecatch, and how will it be with us? See, here are my two reals," and hebade Sancho give them to Master Pedro; but he answered for the ape andsaid, "Senor, this animal does not give any answer or informationtouching things that are to come; of things past he knows something,and more or less of things present."

"Gad," said Sancho, "I would not give a farthing to be told what'spast with me, for who knows that better than I do myself? And to payfor being told what I know would be mighty foolish. But as you knowthings present, here are my two reals, and tell me, most excellent sirape, what is my wife Teresa Panza doing now, and what is she divertingherself with?"

Master Pedro refused to take the money, saying, "I will notreceive payment in advance or until the service has been firstrendered;" and then with his right hand he gave a couple of slaps onhis left shoulder, and with one spring the ape perched himself uponit, and putting his mouth to his master's ear began chattering histeeth rapidly; and having kept this up as long as one would besaying a credo, with another spring he brought himself to theground, and the same instant Master Pedro ran in great haste andfell upon his knees before Don Quixote, and embracing his legsexclaimed, "These legs do I embrace as I would embrace the two pillarsof Hercules, O illustrious reviver of knight-errantry, so longconsigned to oblivion! O never yet duly extolled knight, Don Quixoteof La Mancha, courage of the faint-hearted, prop of the tottering, armof the fallen, staff and counsel of all who are unfortunate!"

Don Quixote was thunderstruck, Sancho astounded, the cousinstaggered, the page astonished, the man from the braying town agape,the landlord in perplexity, and, in short, everyone amazed at thewords of the puppet-showman, who went on to say, "And thou, worthySancho Panza, the best squire and squire to the best knight in theworld! Be of good cheer, for thy good wife Teresa is well, and sheis at this moment hackling a pound of flax; and more by token shehas at her left hand a jug with a broken spout that holds a gooddrop of wine, with which she solaces herself at her work."

"That I can well believe," said Sancho. "She is a lucky one, andif it was not for her jealousy I would not change her for the giantessAndandona, who by my master's account was a very clever and worthywoman; my Teresa is one of those that won't let themselves want foranything, though their heirs may have to pay for it."

"Now I declare," said Don Quixote, "he who reads much and travelsmuch sees and knows a great deal. I say so because what amount ofpersuasion could have persuaded me that there are apes in the worldthat can divine as I have seen now with my own eyes? For I am thatvery Don Quixote of La Mancha this worthy animal refers to, thoughhe has gone rather too far in my praise; but whatever I may be, Ithank heaven that it has endowed me with a tender and compassionateheart, always disposed to do good to all and harm to none."

"If I had money," said the page, "I would ask senor ape what willhappen me in the peregrination I am making."

To this Master Pedro, who had by this time risen from DonQuixote's feet, replied, "I have already said that this little beastgives no answer as to the future; but if he did, not having moneywould be of no consequence, for to oblige Senor Don Quixote, herepresent, I would give up all the profits in the world. And now,because I have promised it, and to afford him pleasure, I will setup my show and offer entertainment to all who are in the inn,without any charge whatever." As soon as he heard this, thelandlord, delighted beyond measure, pointed out a place where the showmight be fixed, which was done at once.

Don Quixote was not very well satisfied with the divinations ofthe ape, as he did not think it proper that an ape should divineanything, either past or future; so while Master Pedro was arrangingthe show, he retired with Sancho into a corner of the stable, where,without being overheard by anyone, he said to him, "Look here, Sancho,I have been seriously thinking over this ape's extraordinary gift, andhave come to the conclusion that beyond doubt this Master Pedro, hismaster, has a pact, tacit or express, with the devil."

"If the packet is express from the devil," said Sancho, "it mustbe a very dirty packet no doubt; but what good can it do MasterPedro to have such packets?"

"Thou dost not understand me, Sancho," said Don Quixote; "I onlymean he must have made some compact with the devil to infuse thispower into the ape, that he may get his living, and after he has grownrich he will give him his soul, which is what the enemy of mankindwants; this I am led to believe by observing that the ape only answersabout things past or present, and the devil's knowledge extends nofurther; for the future he knows only by guesswork, and that notalways; for it is reserved for God alone to know the times and theseasons, and for him there is neither past nor future; all is present.This being as it is, it is clear that this ape speaks by the spirit ofthe devil; and I am astonished they have not denounced him to the HolyOffice, and put him to the question, and forced it out of him by whosevirtue it is that he divines; because it is certain this ape is not anastrologer; neither his master nor he sets up, or knows how to set up,those figures they call judiciary, which are now so common in Spainthat there is not a jade, or page, or old cobbler, that will notundertake to set up a figure as readily as pick up a knave of cardsfrom the ground, bringing to nought the marvellous truth of thescience by their lies and ignorance. I know of a lady who asked one ofthese figure schemers whether her little lap-dog would be in pup andwould breed, and how many and of what colour the little pups would be.To which senor astrologer, after having set up his figure, made answerthat the bitch would be in pup, and would drop three pups, onegreen, another bright red, and the third parti-coloured, providedshe conceived between eleven and twelve either of the day or night,and on a Monday or Saturday; but as things turned out, two daysafter this the bitch died of a surfeit, and senor planet-ruler had thecredit all over the place of being a most profound astrologer, as mostof these planet-rulers have."

"Still," said Sancho, "I would be glad if your worship would makeMaster Pedro ask his ape whether what happened your worship in thecave of Montesinos is true; for, begging your worship's pardon, I, formy part, take it to have been all flam and lies, or at any ratesomething you dreamt."

"That may be," replied Don Quixote; "however, I will do what yousuggest; though I have my own scruples about it."

At this point Master Pedro came up in quest of Don Quixote, totell him the show was now ready and to come and see it, for it wasworth seeing. Don Quixote explained his wish, and begged him to askhis ape at once to tell him whether certain things which hadhappened to him in the cave of Montesinos were dreams or realities,for to him they appeared to partake of both. Upon this Master Pedro,without answering, went back to fetch the ape, and, having placed itin front of Don Quixote and Sancho, said: "See here, senor ape, thisgentleman wishes to know whether certain things which happened tohim in the cave called the cave of Montesinos were false or true."On his making the usual sign the ape mounted on his left shoulderand seemed to whisper in his ear, and Master Pedro said at once,"The ape says that the things you saw or that happened to you inthat cave are, part of them false, part true; and that he only knowsthis and no more as regards this question; but if your worshipwishes to know more, on Friday next he will answer all that may beasked him, for his virtue is at present exhausted, and will not returnto him till Friday, as he has said."

"Did I not say, senor," said Sancho, "that I could not bringmyself to believe that all your worship said about the adventures inthe cave was true, or even the half of it?"

"The course of events will tell, Sancho," replied Don Quixote;"time, that discloses all things, leaves nothing that it does not draginto the light of day, though it be buried in the bosom of theearth. But enough of that for the present; let us go and see MasterPedro's show, for I am sure there must be something novel in it."

"Something!" said Master Pedro; "this show of mine has sixtythousand novel things in it; let me tell you, Senor Don Quixote, it isone of the best-worth-seeing things in the world this day; butoperibus credite et non verbis, and now let's get to work, for it isgrowing late, and we have a great deal to do and to say and show."

Don Quixote and Sancho obeyed him and went to where the show wasalready put up and uncovered, set all around with lighted wax taperswhich made it look splendid and bright. When they came to it MasterPedro ensconced himself inside it, for it was he who had to work thepuppets, and a boy, a servant of his, posted himself outside to act asshowman and explain the mysteries of the exhibition, having a wandin his hand to point to the figures as they came out. And so, allwho were in the inn being arranged in front of the show, some ofthem standing, and Don Quixote, Sancho, the page, and cousin,accommodated with the best places, the interpreter began to say whathe will hear or see who reads or hears the next chapter.

CHAPTER XXVI

WHEREIN IS CONTINUED THE DROLL ADVENTURE OF THE PUPPET-SHOWMAN,TOGETHER WITH OTHER THINGS IN TRUTH RIGHT GOOD

All were silent, Tyrians and Trojans; I mean all who were watchingthe show were hanging on the lips of the interpreter of its wonders,when drums and trumpets were heard to sound inside it and cannon to gooff. The noise was soon over, and then the boy lifted up his voice andsaid, "This true story which is here represented to your worships istaken word for word from the French chronicles and from the Spanishballads that are in everybody's mouth, and in the mouth of the boysabout the streets. Its subject is the release by Senor Don Gaiferos ofhis wife Melisendra, when a captive in Spain at the hands of the Moorsin the city of Sansuena, for so they called then what is now calledSaragossa; and there you may see how Don Gaiferos is playing at thetables, just as they sing it-

At tables playing Don Gaiferos sits,For Melisendra is forgotten now.

And that personage who appears there with a crown on his head and asceptre in his hand is the Emperor Charlemagne, the supposed father ofMelisendra, who, angered to see his son-in-law's inaction andunconcern, comes in to chide him; and observe with what vehemenceand energy he chides him, so that you would fancy he was going to givehim half a dozen raps with his sceptre; and indeed there are authorswho say he did give them, and sound ones too; and after having saida great deal to him about imperilling his honour by not effectingthe release of his wife, he said, so the tale runs,

Enough I've said, see to it now.

Observe, too, how the emperor turns away, and leaves Don Gaiferosfuming; and you see now how in a burst of anger, he flings the tableand the board far from him and calls in haste for his armour, and askshis cousin Don Roland for the loan of his sword, Durindana, and howDon Roland refuses to lend it, offering him his company in thedifficult enterprise he is undertaking; but he, in his valour andanger, will not accept it, and says that he alone will suffice torescue his wife, even though she were imprisoned deep in the centre ofthe earth, and with this he retires to arm himself and set out onhis journey at once. Now let your worships turn your eyes to thattower that appears there, which is supposed to be one of the towers ofthe alcazar of Saragossa, now called the Aljaferia; that lady whoappears on that balcony dressed in Moorish fashion is the peerlessMelisendra, for many a time she used to gaze from thence upon the roadto France, and seek consolation in her captivity by thinking ofParis and her husband. Observe, too, a new incident which nowoccurs, such as, perhaps, never was seen. Do you not see that Moor,who silently and stealthily, with his finger on his lip, approachesMelisendra from behind? Observe now how he prints a kiss upon herlips, and what a hurry she is in to spit, and wipe them with the whitesleeve of her smock, and how she bewails herself, and tears her fairhair as though it were to blame for the wrong. Observe, too, thatthe stately Moor who is in that corridor is King Marsilio of Sansuena,who, having seen the Moor's insolence, at once orders him (thoughhis kinsman and a great favourite of his) to be seized and given twohundred lashes, while carried through the streets of the cityaccording to custom, with criers going before him and officers ofjustice behind; and here you see them come out to execute thesentence, although the offence has been scarcely committed; foramong the Moors there are no indictments nor remands as with us."

Title: Don Quixote
Author: Miqeul de Cervantes
Viewed 201721 times

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