A TEI Project

Chapter XLIX

About what happened to Sancho making the rounds of his ínsula.

WE LEFT THE GREAT governor angry and annoyed with the jokester of a peasant who described those likenesses so vividly, and who—having been coached by the steward, who in turn was coached by the duke—played that joke on Sancho. But Sancho held his own with everyone, although unlettered, coarse, and pudgy, he said to those who were with him and to doctor Pedro Recio, who, since there was no longer a secret about the letter from the duke, had come back into that room: “Now I truly understand that judges and governors must be, or should be, made of bronze so they can withstand the demands of petitioners who come at all hours wanting to be heard and attended to, thinking only of their own affairs, no matter what. And if the poor judge doesn’t listen and attend to them either because he cannot, or because they don’t come at the proper time to be heard, then they slander and criticize him and gnaw his bones and even gossip about his lineage. Foolish and idiotic petitioner, don’t hurry—wait for the right time to handle your business! Don’t come at lunchtime or when it’s time to have a nap! Judges are made of flesh and blood and must give what Nature demands, except me, for I’m not allowed to eat, thanks to señor Pedro Recio de Tirteafuera, here present, who wants me to die of hunger, and affirms that this death is life. And may God do the same for him and all those of his kind—I mean, at least for bad doctors. Good doctors deserve palms and laurels.”

All those who knew Sancho Panza marveled when they heard him speak so elegantly and didn’t know what to attribute it to, except that positions of responsibility either sharpen or dull one’s intellect. Finally, doctor Pedro Recio Agüero de Tirteafuera promised to give him a dinner that evening, even though he would break all the aphorisms of Hippocrates. With this, the governor was happy and waited very anxiously for night and dinnertime to arrive, and although time, in his view, stood still and didn’t budge, the moment that he so desired finally came and they gave him beef hash with onions, and some cooked calves’ feet that were a bit stale.

But he devoured these with greater pleasure than if they had been sandgrouses from Milan, pheasants from Rome, Sorrento veal, partridges from Morón, or geese from Lavajos, and during the meal he turned to the doctor and said: “Look, doctor, from now on don’t give me dainty things to eat nor rich food, because they’ll knock my stomach off its hinges, since it’s used to goat, beef, bacon, jerky, turnips and onions; and if perhaps you give my stomach other food from the palace, it’ll receive them with queasiness and even with nausea. What the butler can do is bring me some stew, and the longer it’s coooked, the better it smells, and he can throw in and include anything he wants, as long as it’s something to eat, and I’ll be grateful and I’ll pay him back one day. And let no one play jokes on me because we all have to get along. Let’s live and eat in good peace and fellowship because «when God starts the day, He starts it for everyone». I’ll govern this island without usurping any right or asking for bribes, and everyone keep a watchful eye and mind his own business, because I want you to know that «the devil is in Cantillana», and if you give me a chance, you’ll see marvels. «Make yourself into honey and the flies will come.»”

“Certainly, señor governor,” said the steward, “your grace is right in everything you’ve said, and I can say, in the name of all the islanders, that they’ll serve you conscientiously, with love and good will, because your easy-going way of governing in these first days won’t let them think or do anything that would be a disservice to you.”

“I believe it,” responded Sancho, “and they’d be foolish if they did or thought anything else. And I say again that care must be taken in my sustenance and my grey’s. This is the most important thing. When it’s time let’s make the rounds. It’s my intention to rid this ínsula of all kinds of filth, of idlers, and loafing bums. I want you to know, my friends, that idle and lazy people in a republic are the same as drones in a beehive who eat the honey that the worker bees make. I plan to favor the workers, keep the rights of the hidalgos, reward the virtuous, and above all respect religion and honor of the ecclesiastics. What do you think of that, my friends? Am I saying something important or am I breaking my head?”

“Your grace is saying so much, señor governor,” said the steward, “that I’m in awe in seeing that a man without education as is your grace—for I believe you have none—should say such and so many things filled with wisdom and counsel, so far beyond what was expected of your intelligence by those who sent us and those who live here. Each day one sees new things in the world, jests turn into truths, and the jesters are made fools of.”

Night came and the governor ate with permission of doctor Recio. They prepared to make the rounds and Sancho left with the steward, the secretary the butler, the chronicler (who took care to write down his acts), and constables and scribes—so many that they could form half a squadron. Sancho was in the middle with his staff of office—a sight to be seen—and after a few blocks, they heard what sounded like a sword fight. They hurried over and found that it was only two men who were fighting, and thay stopped as soon as they saw the authorities. One of them said: “Help in the name of God and the king! How is it they can rob a man right out in the open in this town and assault him in the middle of the street?”

“Calm down, my good man,” said Sancho, “and tell me what the cause of this quarrel is, for I’m the governor.”

The other fellow said: “Señor governor, I’ll tell about it with just a few words. I want your grace to know that this gentleman has just won more than a thousand reales in the casino across the street, and God knows how. I was an onlooker and I judged more than one point in his favor, quite against what my conscience dictated. He picked up his winnings, and I expected him to give me if only an escudo as a tip, as is customary to give important men such as myself who are present to oversee fair or foul play, and back up injustices and avoid quarrels. Well, he pocketed his money and left the place. I followed him a bit vexed, and with good and courteous words I asked him to give me at least eight reales, since he knows than I’m an honorable man and I have no job, because my parents didn’t teach me how to do anything, nor did they leave me anything. And this prankster—and Cacus is no greater thief nor is Andradilla more of a cheater—refused to give me more than four reales, so you can see, señor governor, how little shame and how little conscience he has. But I swear that if your grace hadn’t come, I would have made him vomit his winnings and settle accounts.”

“What do you have to say about this?” asked Sancho. And the other responded that it was true what his adversary said, and he’d refused to give him more than four reales because he’d tipped him many times. Those who expect a tip should be polite and accept happily whatever is given them, without arguing with the winners, unless they know for certain that they’re cheaters and that their winnings are ill-gotten. And to show that he was a good man and not a thief, as the other claimed, there was no greater proof than his refusal to pay, and that cheaters always pay the onlookers who know them.

“This is true,” said the steward, “now, your grace, señor governor, say what should be done with these two men.”

“What will be done is this:” said Sancho, “you, winner, by fair, foul, or indifferent means, give a hundred reales to this quarrelsome man, and pay thirty more for the poor in jail. And you, who have no job or inheritance and are a vagrant in this ínsula, take those hundred reales, and sometime tomorrow go into exile for ten years; if you return before then, you’ll finish your sentence in the next life, for we’ll hang you from the gallows, or at least the executioner will, by my command. And neither of you reply, or you’ll feel the weight of my hand.”

The one man paid the money, the other received it; the latter then left the ínsula, the former went home, and the governor stood there and said: “Now, either I have little power, or I’ll get rid of these casinos. It seems to me that they’re very harmful.”

“This one, at least” said a scribe, “you can’t get rid of, because a very important man owns it, and he loses more in card games every year than he takes in. You can exert your authority against the smaller casinos since they do more damage and harbor the worst abuses. In the casinos that belong to noble gentlemen and lords, the swindlers don’t dare to try to cheat, and since gambling has become so popular, it’s better to gamble in legitimate casinos rather than in the house of a workman where they grab some unfortunate person and flay him alive after midnight.”

“I see now, scribe,” said Sancho, “that there’s much to say about that.”

Just then a constable arrived holding on to a young man, and said: “Señor governor, this young fellow was coming toward us, and as soon as he realized we were the authorities, he turned and began to run like a deer, a sign that he must be a delinquent. I ran after him, and if he hadn’t stumbled and fallen, I would never have caught him.”

“Why were you running, man?” asked Sancho.

To which the young man responded: “Señor, to avoid answering the many questions that the authorities ask.”

“What is you line of work?”

“I’m a weaver.”

“And what do you weave?”

“Iron tips for lances, with your grace’s kind leave.”

“An amusing fellow are you? You pride yourself as being a comic? All right. And where were you going right now?”

“Señor, to take the air.”

“And where does one take the air on this ínsula?“

“Wherever it blows.”

“Good. You’re answering very well, and you’re a witty, young man. But bear in mind that I’m the wind, and I’m blowing at your back, and I’m blowing you into jail. Grab him and haul him away, for I’ll make him sleep there tonight, without a breeze.”

“By God,” said the young man, “you can make me sleep in jail about as much as you can crown me king!”

“So, how come I can’t make you sleep in jail?” responded Sancho. “Don’t I have the power to arrest you and let you go wherever and whenever I please?”

“No matter how much power your grace may have,” said the young man, “it’s not enough to make me sleep in jail.”

“Why not?” responded Sancho. “Take him at once to where he’ll see with his own eyes how wrong he is. If the jailer should want a bribe to let you go, I’ll slap a fine of two-thousand ducados on him if he lets you take one step away from your cell.”

“All that is very laughable,” responded the young man, “the thing is, no living creature can make me sleep in jail.” “Tell me, you little devil,” said Sancho, “do you have some angel who can take you away and remove the shackles I plan to have put on you?”

“Now,” responded the young man with great wit, “let’s think about it and get to the point. Suppose, your grace, that you have me taken to jail and that they put shackles and chains on me and that they put me in a cell, and they threaten the guard with stiff fines if he lets me go, and he does what he’s told. With all this, if I don’t want to sleep, and stay awake all night without closing an eye, will your power be enough to make me sleep if I don’t want to?”

“That’s right,” said the secretary. “The fellow has made his point.”

“So,” said Sancho, “you wouldn’t sleep only because it’s your free will not to, and not because you want to go against my will?”

“No, señor,” said the young man, “I wouldn’t even consider that.”

“Then go with God,” said Sancho. “Go sleep in your own house and may God let you sleep well. I don’t want to rob you of your sleep. But I advise you from now on not to joke with the authorities because you’ll run across someone who’ll take your joke and bash it against your head.”

The young man went away and the governor continued his rounds. In a little while two constables came, holding on to a man and they said: “Señor, this person who seems to be a man is not, but rather is a woman—and not an ugly one—dressed as a man.”

They held two or three lanterns near her and discovered the face of a woman, 16 years old or a bit older. Her hair was gathered in a hair net made of gold and green silk, and as pretty as a thousand pearls. They looked at her from head to foot, and saw that she was wearing some flesh-colored silk stockings, with garters made of white taffeta fringed with gold and seed pearls. Her trousers were green, with golden threads, and she wore a cape of the same material, unfastened, under which she was wearing a doublet of very fine gold and white fabric, and her shoes were men’s style and white in color. No sword hung at her side, only a very richly decorated dagger, and on her hands there were many fine rings. The girl seemed quite attractive to all of them, and of all who saw her, no one recognized her. The natives of the town said that they had no idea what family she belonged to. The accomplices of the tricks to be played on Sancho were the most amazed of all, because they had not planned that event, and so they were in suspense, wondering how it would turn out.

Sancho was stunned at the beauty of the girl and asked her who her family was, and what had made her dress that way. She, looking at the ground, with innocent shame, responded: “I can’t tell in public what was so important for me to keep a secret. One thing I want to be understood—I’m not a thief or a wicked person but just an unfortunate maiden who the power of jealousy caused to break the laws of propriety.”

When the steward heard this, he said to Sancho: “Ask the others to clear away, señor governor, so that this woman can state with less embarrassment whatever she wants.”

The governor asked that this be done and the crowd moved away, except for the steward, the butler, and the secretary. Seeing that they were alone, the maiden went on, saying: “I, señores, am the daughter of Pedro Pérez Mazorca, the tax collector for woolens in this village, who visits my father’s house frequently.”

“That makes no sense, señora” said the steward, “because I know Pedro Pérez very well and I know that he’s childless, having neither a son nor a daughter, and what’s more, you say that he’s your father and also that he visits your father’s house frequently.”

“I caught that, too,” said Sancho.

“Now, señores, I’m upset and I don’t know what I’m saying,” responded the maiden, “but the truth is that I’m the daughter of Diego de la Llana, whom all of your graces must know.”

“Now, that makes more sense,” responded the steward, “for I know Diego de la Llana, and I know that he’s a rich hidalgo who has a son and a daughter, and that after he was widowed, no one in this village can say that he has seen the face of his daughter. He keeps her so secluded that even the sun doesn’t even see her, and withal, rumor has it that she’s extremely beautiful.”

“That’s the truth,” said the girl, “and I’m that daughter. Whether or not the rumors lie as to my looks, you, señores, will have to judge for yourselves, since you’ve seen me.”

And then she began to weep tenderly. When the secretary saw this, he went to whisper into the butler’s ear: “Without a doubt something important must have happened to this girl, since she’s such an elegant woman, walking around so far from her home, dressed like that, and at such a late hour.”

“There’s no doubt about that,” responded the butler, “and what’s more, your suspicion is confirmed by her tears.”

Sancho consoled her with the best words he could think of, and asked her to tell him, without any fear, what had happened, and that everyone would try to help her most earnestly and in any way possible.

“The thing is, señores,” she responded, “my father has kept me in seclusion for ten years, ever since my mother’s death. Mass is said at home in a magnificent chapel, and I—in all this time—have only seen the sun by day and the moon and stars by night. I don’t even know what the streets, plaza, or churches look like, or who people are, outside of my father and brother, and Pedro Pérez, the tax collector—and since he comes to my house so often, I thought I’d say he was my father, so as not to mention who my real father is. This seclusion, and not letting me go out of the house—not even to the church—for so many days and months has made me very stricken with grief. I would like to see the world, or at least the town where I was born, since it seems to me that this wish didn’t exceed the bounds of propriety that high-born maidens ought to observe. When I heard that they fought bulls, there were mock battles, and that plays were put on, I asked my brother—who is a year younger than I am—to tell me what those things, and many others I had never seen, were. He told me as well as he could, but it only served to increase my desire to see them for myself. Finally, to make this story of my ruin short, I say that I begged and asked my brother, and, oh! I should have never asked or begged him…”

And once again she renewed her weeping. The steward said to her: “Continue, your grace, señora, and finish telling us what has happened, because your words and tears are holding us all in suspense.”

“I have just a few more words left,” responded the maiden, “although many more tears to shed, because my misdirected longings can only bring negative results.”

The beauty of the maiden settled over the heart of the butler, and he once again held his lantern close to see her, and it seemed to him that it wasn’t tears she was shedding, but rather seed pearls or dew of the meadows—he even held them in higher esteem, comparing them to oriental pearls, and he hoped that her misfortune wasn’t as great as her weeping and sighs seemed to indicate. The governor was despairing at the girl’s delay in finishing her story, and told her to stop keeping them in suspense because it was late and he still had a long way to go on his rounds. Between broken sobs and half-formed sighs, she said: “My calamity and misfortune is only that I begged my brother to dress me as a man in one of his outfits, and that he take me out one night to see the whole town while our father slept.

“He was pestered by my entreaties and agreed to go along with my wish, dressing me this way, and he dressed himself in one of my outfits that fits him like a glove, and since he doesn’t have any hint of a beard yet, he looks just like a beautiful girl. Tonight about one o’clock, more or less, we left our house, and led by our childish and ill-advised intention, we walked all around this town, and as we were getting ready to go home, we saw that large group of people coming and my brother said: ‘Sister, this must be the night patrol. Put wings on your feet and run behind me so they won’t find out who we are, for it will be bad for us if they do.’

“And saying this, he turned around and began, not to run, but to fly. I fell after six steps because of my distress, and then that minister of justice came and brought me to your graces, where I find myself humiliated and shamed in front of so many people.”

“So, señora,” said Sancho, “nothing else happened to you, and it wasn’t jealousy—as you said at first—that took you out of your house?”

“Nothing happened to me, nor did jealousy take me out of my house—just the desire to see the world, even if it was only to see the streets of this village.”

And this truth was confirmed by the constables with her brother in custody, whom one of them caught when he was fleeing. He was wearing only a fancy skirt and a shawl of blue damask with fine gold trim; his head had no hood, and was unadorned except by his curly blond hair, which looked like rings of gold.

The governor, steward, and butler took him away from his sister, so she wouldn’t hear, and asked him why he was dressed that way, and he, with no less shame and bashfulness told the same story his sister had related, which gave great pleasure to the enamored butler. But the governor told them: “It seems to me, señores, this has been nothing but a big childish prank, and in order to tell it they didn’t need so many long explanations, tears, or sighs. Just by saying: ‘We’re So-and-So and we left our parents’ house to take a walk, only out of curiosity, and with no other intention,’ we would have ended the tale, with no sighs and crying, and that’s it.”

“That’s true,” said the maiden, “but I want you to know that I was so upset I couldn’t act rationally.”

“No harm was done,” responded Sancho. “All right, we’ll go with your graces to your father’s house. Perhaps he won’t have missed you. But from now on, don’t be so childish nor so eager to see the world. Because «the honorable maiden should stay home with a broken leg» and «by wandering about, the woman and the hen are soon lost». And «the one who wants to see also wants to be seen» and I say no more.”

The young man thanked the governor for the favor he wanted to do them by escorting them home, and they went toward the house that wasn’t far off. When they arrived, the brother threw a pebble through the grate and in a moment the maid, who was expecting them, came down to let them in. They went in, leaving everyone amazed as much by their refinement and their beauty, as by their desire to see the world at night, without leaving their village, but they attributed it all to their youth.

The butler was left with an aching heart and he resolved the next morning to ask her father for permission to marry her, certain that he wouldn’t be denied since he was a servant of the duke; and even Sancho got the idea and desire to marry the young man to Sanchica, his daughter, and he resolved to arrange it in due time, feeling that no husband could be refused a governor’s daughter. With this they ended the rounds that night, and two days later the government also ended, whereby all of his designs were cut off and scattered to the wind, as will be seen further on.


Date: June 1, 2009
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