Miqeul de Cervantes >> Don Quixote (page 31)

"So it shall be," answered Don Quixote, and raising his eyes hesaw what will be told in the following chapter.



Cide Hamete Benengeli, the Arab and Manchegan author, relates inthis most grave, high-sounding, minute, delightful, and originalhistory that after the discussion between the famous Don Quixote of LaMancha and his squire Sancho Panza which is set down at the end ofchapter twenty-one, Don Quixote raised his eyes and saw coming alongthe road he was following some dozen men on foot strung together bythe neck, like beads, on a great iron chain, and all with manacleson their hands. With them there came also two men on horseback and twoon foot; those on horseback with wheel-lock muskets, those on footwith javelins and swords, and as soon as Sancho saw them he said:

"That is a chain of galley slaves, on the way to the galleys byforce of the king's orders."

"How by force?" asked Don Quixote; "is it possible that the kinguses force against anyone?"

"I do not say that," answered Sancho, "but that these are peoplecondemned for their crimes to serve by force in the king's galleys."

"In fact," replied Don Quixote, "however it may be, these people aregoing where they are taking them by force, and not of their own will."

"Just so," said Sancho.

"Then if so," said Don Quixote, "here is a case for the exerciseof my office, to put down force and to succour and help the wretched."

"Recollect, your worship," said Sancho, "Justice, which is theking himself, is not using force or doing wrong to such persons, butpunishing them for their crimes."

The chain of galley slaves had by this time come up, and Don Quixotein very courteous language asked those who were in custody of it to begood enough to tell him the reason or reasons for which they wereconducting these people in this manner. One of the guards on horsebackanswered that they were galley slaves belonging to his majesty, thatthey were going to the galleys, and that was all that was to be saidand all he had any business to know.

"Nevertheless," replied Don Quixote, "I should like to know fromeach of them separately the reason of his misfortune;" to this headded more to the same effect to induce them to tell him what hewanted so civilly that the other mounted guard said to him:

"Though we have here the register and certificate of the sentence ofevery one of these wretches, this is no time to take them out orread them; come and ask themselves; they can tell if they choose,and they will, for these fellows take a pleasure in doing andtalking about rascalities."

With this permission, which Don Quixote would have taken even hadthey not granted it, he approached the chain and asked the first forwhat offences he was now in such a sorry case.

He made answer that it was for being a lover.

"For that only?" replied Don Quixote; "why, if for being lovers theysend people to the galleys I might have been rowing in them long ago."

"The love is not the sort your worship is thinking of," said thegalley slave; "mine was that I loved a washerwoman's basket of cleanlinen so well, and held it so close in my embrace, that if the armof the law had not forced it from me, I should never have let it go ofmy own will to this moment; I was caught in the act, there was nooccasion for torture, the case was settled, they treated me to ahundred lashes on the back, and three years of gurapas besides, andthat was the end of it."

"What are gurapas?" asked Don Quixote.

"Gurapas are galleys," answered the galley slave, who was a youngman of about four-and-twenty, and said he was a native of Piedrahita.

Don Quixote asked the same question of the second, who made noreply, so downcast and melancholy was he; but the first answered forhim, and said, "He, sir, goes as a canary, I mean as a musician anda singer."

"What!" said Don Quixote, "for being musicians and singers arepeople sent to the galleys too?"

"Yes, sir," answered the galley slave, "for there is nothing worsethan singing under suffering."

"On the contrary, I have heard say," said Don Quixote, "that hewho sings scares away his woes."

"Here it is the reverse," said the galley slave; "for he who singsonce weeps all his life."

"I do not understand it," said Don Quixote; but one of the guardssaid to him, "Sir, to sing under suffering means with the non sanctafraternity to confess under torture; they put this sinner to thetorture and he confessed his crime, which was being a cuatrero, thatis a cattle-stealer, and on his confession they sentenced him to sixyears in the galleys, besides two bundred lashes that he has alreadyhad on the back; and he is always dejected and downcast because theother thieves that were left behind and that march here ill-treat, andsnub, and jeer, and despise him for confessing and not having spiritenough to say nay; for, say they, 'nay' has no more letters in it than'yea,' and a culprit is well off when life or death with him dependson his own tongue and not on that of witnesses or evidence; and tomy thinking they are not very far out."

"And I think so too," answered Don Quixote; then passing on to thethird he asked him what he had asked the others, and the mananswered very readily and unconcernedly, "I am going for five years totheir ladyships the gurapas for the want of ten ducats."

"I will give twenty with pleasure to get you out of that trouble,"said Don Quixote.

"That," said the galley slave, "is like a man having money at seawhen he is dying of hunger and has no way of buying what he wants; Isay so because if at the right time I had had those twenty ducats thatyour worship now offers me, I would have greased the notary's penand freshened up the attorney's wit with them, so that to-day I shouldbe in the middle of the plaza of the Zocodover at Toledo, and not onthis road coupled like a greyhound. But God is great; patience- there,that's enough of it."

Don Quixote passed on to the fourth, a man of venerable aspectwith a white beard falling below his breast, who on hearing himselfasked the reason of his being there began to weep without answeringa word, but the fifth acted as his tongue and said, "This worthy manis going to the galleys for four years, after having gone the roundsin ceremony and on horseback."

"That means," said Sancho Panza, "as I take it, to have beenexposed to shame in public."

"Just so," replied the galley slave, "and the offence for which theygave him that punishment was having been an ear-broker, naybody-broker; I mean, in short, that this gentleman goes as a pimp, andfor having besides a certain touch of the sorcerer about him."

"If that touch had not been thrown in," said Don Quixote, "bewould not deserve, for mere pimping, to row in the galleys, but ratherto command and be admiral of them; for the office of pimp is noordinary one, being the office of persons of discretion, one verynecessary in a well-ordered state, and only to be exercised by personsof good birth; nay, there ought to be an inspector and overseer ofthem, as in other offices, and recognised number, as with thebrokers on change; in this way many of the evils would be avoidedwhich are caused by this office and calling being in the hands ofstupid and ignorant people, such as women more or less silly, andpages and jesters of little standing and experience, who on the mosturgent occasions, and when ingenuity of contrivance is needed, let thecrumbs freeze on the way to their mouths, and know not which istheir right hand. I should like to go farther, and give reasons toshow that it is advisable to choose those who are to hold so necessaryan office in the state, but this is not the fit place for it; some dayI will expound the matter to some one able to see to and rectify it;all I say now is, that the additional fact of his being a sorcerer hasremoved the sorrow it gave me to see these white hairs and thisvenerable countenance in so painful a position on account of his beinga pimp; though I know well there are no sorceries in the world thatcan move or compel the will as some simple folk fancy, for our will isfree, nor is there herb or charm that can force it. All that certainsilly women and quacks do is to turn men mad with potions and poisons,pretending that they have power to cause love, for, as I say, it is animpossibility to compel the will."

"It is true," said the good old man, "and indeed, sir, as far as thecharge of sorcery goes I was not guilty; as to that of being a pimpI cannot deny it; but I never thought I was doing any harm by it,for my only object was that all the world should enjoy itself and livein peace and quiet, without quarrels or troubles; but my goodintentions were unavailing to save me from going where I neverexpect to come back from, with this weight of years upon me and aurinary ailment that never gives me a moment's ease;" and again hefell to weeping as before, and such compassion did Sancho feel for himthat he took out a real of four from his bosom and gave it to him inalms.

Don Quixote went on and asked another what his crime was, and theman answered with no less but rather much more sprightliness thanthe last one.

"I am here because I carried the joke too far with a couple ofcousins of mine, and with a couple of other cousins who were none ofmine; in short, I carried the joke so far with them all that itended in such a complicated increase of kindred that no accountantcould make it clear: it was all proved against me, I got no favour,I had no money, I was near having my neck stretched, they sentenced meto the galleys for six years, I accepted my fate, it is the punishmentof my fault; I am a young man; let life only last, and with that allwill come right. If you, sir, have anything wherewith to help thepoor, God will repay it to you in heaven, and we on earth will takecare in our petitions to him to pray for the life and health of yourworship, that they may be as long and as good as your amiableappearance deserves."

This one was in the dress of a student, and one of the guards saidhe was a great talker and a very elegant Latin scholar.

Behind all these there came a man of thirty, a very personablefellow, except that when he looked, his eyes turned in a little onetowards the other. He was bound differently from the rest, for hehad to his leg a chain so long that it was wound all round his body,and two rings on his neck, one attached to the chain, the other towhat they call a "keep-friend" or "friend's foot," from which hung twoirons reaching to his waist with two manacles fixed to them in whichhis hands were secured by a big padlock, so that he could neitherraise his hands to his mouth nor lower his head to his hands. DonQuixote asked why this man carried so many more chains than theothers. The guard replied that it was because he alone had committedmore crimes than all the rest put together, and was so daring and sucha villain, that though they marched him in that fashion they did notfeel sure of him, but were in dread of his making his escape.

"What crimes can he have committed," said Don Quixote, "if they havenot deserved a heavier punishment than being sent to the galleys?"

"He goes for ten years," replied the guard, "which is the same thingas civil death, and all that need be said is that this good fellowis the famous Gines de Pasamonte, otherwise called Ginesillo deParapilla."

"Gently, senor commissary," said the galley slave at this, "let ushave no fixing of names or surnames; my name is Gines, notGinesillo, and my family name is Pasamonte, not Parapilla as yousay; let each one mind his own business, and he will be doing enough."

"Speak with less impertinence, master thief of extra measure,"replied the commissary, "if you don't want me to make you hold yourtongue in spite of your teeth."

"It is easy to see," returned the galley slave, "that man goes asGod pleases, but some one shall know some day whether I am calledGinesillo de Parapilla or not."

"Don't they call you so, you liar?" said the guard.

"They do," returned Gines, "but I will make them give over callingme so, or I will be shaved, where, I only say behind my teeth. If you,sir, have anything to give us, give it to us at once, and God speedyou, for you are becoming tiresome with all this inquisitiveness aboutthe lives of others; if you want to know about mine, let me tell you Iam Gines de Pasamonte, whose life is written by these fingers."

"He says true," said the commissary, "for he has himself written hisstory as grand as you please, and has left the book in the prison inpawn for two hundred reals."

"And I mean to take it out of pawn," said Gines, "though it werein for two hundred ducats."

"Is it so good?" said Don Quixote.

"So good is it," replied Gines, "that a fig for 'Lazarillo deTormes,' and all of that kind that have been written, or shall bewritten compared with it: all I will say about it is that it dealswith facts, and facts so neat and diverting that no lies could matchthem."

"And how is the book entitled?" asked Don Quixote.

"The 'Life of Gines de Pasamonte,'" replied the subject of it.

"And is it finished?" asked Don Quixote.

"How can it be finished," said the other, "when my life is not yetfinished? All that is written is from my birth down to the pointwhen they sent me to the galleys this last time."

"Then you have been there before?" said Don Quixote.

"In the service of God and the king I have been there for four yearsbefore now, and I know by this time what the biscuit and courbashare like," replied Gines; "and it is no great grievance to me to goback to them, for there I shall have time to finish my book; I havestill many things left to say, and in the galleys of Spain there ismore than enough leisure; though I do not want much for what I have towrite, for I have it by heart."

Title: Don Quixote
Author: Miqeul de Cervantes
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