Don Quixote de la Mancha, translated by Charles Jarvis
The Life and Exploits
of the Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote de la Mancha
By Miguel de Cervantes, Translated by Charles Jarvis, Esq.
The First Part
CHAPTER XL: In which is continued the History of the Captive.
"You have it right," said the captive. "That on the fort," said the gentleman, "if I do not forget, was as follows:"
The sonnets were not disliked; and the captive, pleased with the news they told him of his comrade, went on with his story, saying:
"Goleta and the fort being delivered up, the Turks gave orders to dismantle Goleta; as for the fort, it was in such a condition, that there was nothing left to be demolished. And to do the work more speedily, and with less labour, they undermined it in three places; it is true, they could not blow up what seemed to be least strong, the old walls; but whatever remained of the new fortification, made by the engineer Fratin, came very easily down. In short, the fleet returned to Constantinople, victorious and -- triumphant; and within a few months died my master, the famous Uchali, whom people called Uchali Fartax; that is to say, in the Turkish language, the Scabby Renegado: for he was so; and it is customary among the Turks to nickname people from some personal defect, or give them a name from some good quality belonging to them. And the reason is, because there are but four surnames of families which contend for nobility with the Ottoman; and the rest, as I have said, take names and surnames either from the blemishes of the body, or the virtues of the mind. This leper had been at the oar fourteen years, being a slave of the Grand Signions; and, at about thirty-four years of age, being enraged at a blow given him by a Turk while he was at the oar, to have it in his power to be revenged on him, he renounced his religion. And so great was his valour, that without rising by those base methods by which the minions of the Grand Signior usually rise, he came to be King of Algiers, and afterwards general of the sea, which is the third command in that empire. He was born in Calabria, and was a good moral man, and treated his slaves with great humanity. He had three thousand of them, and they were divided after his death, as he had ordered by his last will, one half to the Grand Signior, who is every man's heir in part, sharing equally with the children of the deceased, and the other among his renegadoes. I fell to the lot of a Venetian renegado, who having been cabin-boy in a ship, was taken by Uchali, and was so beloved by him, that he became one of his most favourite boys. He was one of the cruelest renegadoes that ever was seen: his name was Azanaga. He grew very rich, and became King of Algiers; and with him I came from Constantinople, a little comforted by being so near Spain; not that I intended to write an account to anybody of my unfortunate circumstances, but in hopes fortune would be more favourable to me in Algiers than it had been in Constantinople, where I had tried a thousand ways of making my escape, but none rightly timed or successful; and in Algiers I purposed to try other means of compassing what I desired; for the hope of recovering my liberty never entirely abandoned me; and whenever what I devised, contrived, and put in execution, did not answer my design, I presently, without desponding, searched out and formed to myself fresh hopes to sustain me, though they were slight and inconsiderable.
"Thus I made a shift to support life, shut up in a prison, or house, which the Turks call a bath, where they keep their Christian captives locked up, as well those who belong to the king, as some of those belonging to private persons, and those also whom they call of the Almazen, that is to say, captives of the council, who serve the city in its public works, and in other offices. This kind of captives find it very difficult to recover their liberty; for as they belong to the public, and have no particular master, there is nobody for them to treat with about their ransom, though they should have it ready. To these baths, as I have said, private persons sometimes carry their slaves, especially when their ransom is agreed upon; for there they keep them without work, and in safety, until their ransom comes. The king's slaves also, who are to be ransomed, do not go out to work with the rest of the crew, unless it be when their ransom is long in coming: for then, to make them write for it with greater importunity, they are made to work and go for wood with the rest; which is no small toil and pains. As they knew I had been a captain, I was one upon ransom; and, though I assured them I wanted both interest and money, it did not hinder me from being put among the gentlemen, and those who were to be -- ransomed. They put a chain on me, rather as a sign of ransom, than to secure me; and so I passed my life in that bath, with many other gentlemen and persons of condition, distinguished and accounted as ransomable. And though hunger and nakedness often, and indeed generally, afflicted us, nothing troubled us so much as to see, at every turn, the unparalleled and excessive cruelties with which our master used the Christians. Each day he hanged one, impaled another, and cut off the ears of a third; and that upon the least provocation, and sometimes none at all; insomuch that the very Turks were sensible he did it for the mere pleasure of doing it, and to gratify his murderous and inhuman disposition. One Spanish soldier only, called such an one de Saavedra, (100) happened to be in his good graces; and though he did things which will remain in the memory of those people for many years, and all towards obtaining his liberty, yet he never gave him a blow, nor ordered one to be given him, nor ever reproached him with so much as a hard word; and for the least of many things he did, we all feared he would be impaled alive, and he feared it himself more than once; and, were it not that the time will not allow me, I would now tell you of some things done by this soldier, which would be more entertaining and more surprising than the relation of my story.
"But to return. The court-yard of our prison was overlooked by the windows of a house belonging to a rich Moor of distinction, which, as is usual there, were rather peep-holes than windows; and even these had their thick and close lattices. It fell out, then, that one day as I was upon a terrace of our prison with three of my companions, trying, by way of pastime, who could leap farthest with his chains on, and being by ourselves, for all the rest of the Christians were gone out to work, by chance I looked up, and saw from out of one of those little windows I have mentioned a cane appear, with a handkerchief tied at the end of it: the cane moved up and down, as if it made signs for us to come and take it. We looked earnestly up at it, and one of my companions went and placed himself under the cane, to see whether they who held it would let it drop, or what they would do; but as he came near, they advanced the cane, and moved it from side to side, as if they had said, No, with the head. The Christian came back, and the cane was let down with the same motions as before. Another of my companions went, and the same happened to him as to the former: then the third went, and he had the same success with the first and second. Seeing this, I resolved to try my fortune likewise; and as soon as I had placed myself under the cane, it was let drop, and fell just at my feet. I immediately untied the handkerchief, and in a knot at the corner of it I found ten zianiys, a sort of base gold coin used by the Moors, each piece worth about ten reals (101) of our money. I need not tell you whether I rejoiced at the prize; and indeed I was no less pleased than surprised to think from whence this good fortune could come to us, especially to me; for the letting fall the cane to me alone plainly showed that the favour was intended to me alone. I took my welcome money; I broke the cane to pieces, and returned to the terrace; I looked back to the window, and perceived a very white hand go out and in, to open and shut it hastily. By this we understood, or fancied, that it must be some woman who lived in that house, who had been thus charitable to us; and, to express our thanks, we made our reverences after the Moorish fashion, inclining the head, bending the body, and laying the hands on the breast. --
"Soon after, there was put out of the same window a little cross made of cane, which was presently drawn in again. On this signal, we concluded that some Christian woman was a captive in that house, and that it was she who had done us the kindness; but the whiteness of the hand, and the bracelets we had a glimpse of, soon destroyed that fancy. Then again we imagined it must be some Christian renegade, whom their masters often marry, reckoning it happy to get one of them; for they value them more than the women of their own nation. All our reasonings and conjectures were very wide of the truth; and now all our entertainment was to gaze at and observe the window, as our north, from whence that star, the cane, had appeared. But full fifteen days passed, in which we saw neither hand, nor any other signal whatever. And though in this interval we endeavoured all we could to inform ourselves who lived in that house, and whether there was any Christian renegade there, we never could learn anything more than that the house was that of a considerable and rich Moor, named Agimorato, who had been Alcaide of Pata, an office among them of great authority. But, when we least dreamed of its raining any more zianiys from thence, we perceived, unexpectedly, another cane appear, and another handkerchief tied to it, with another knot larger than the former; and this was at a time when the bath, as before, was empty, and without people. We made the same trial as before, each of my three companions going before me; but the cane was not let down to either of them; but, when I went up to it, it was let fall. I untied the knot, and found in it forty Spanish crowns in gold, and a paper written in Arabic; and, at the top of the writing was a large cross. I kissed the cross, took the crowns, and returned to the terrace: we all made our reverences; the hand appeared again; I made signs that I would read the paper; the hand shut the window; and we all remained amazed, yet overjoyed, at what had happened; and, as none of us understood Arabic, great was our desire to know what the paper contained, and greater the difficulty to find one to read it.
"At last I resolved to confide in a renegado, a native of Murcia, who professed himself very much my friend, and we had exchanged such pledges of our mutual confidence, as obliged him to keep whatever secret I should commit to him. For it is usual with renegadoes, when they have a mind to return to Christendom, to carry with them certificates from the most considerable captives, attesting, in the most ample manner, and best form they can get, that such a renegado is an honest man, and has always been kind and obliging to the Christians, and that he had a desire to make his escape the first opportunity that offered. Some procure these certificates with a good intention: others make use of them occasionally, and out of cunning only; for going to rob and plunder on the Christian coasts, if they happen to be shipwrecked or taken, they produce their certificates, and pretend that those papers will show the design they came upon, namely, to get into some Christian country, which was the reason of their going as pirates with the Turks. By these means they escape the first fury, reconcile themselves to the Church, and live unmolested; and, when an opportunity offers, they return to Barbary, and to their former course of life. Others there are who procure, and make use of, these papers with a good design, and remain in the Christian countries. Now this friend of mine was a renegado of this sort, and had gotten certificates from all of us, in which we recommended him as much as possible; and if the Moors -- had found these papers about him, they would certainly have burnt him alive. I knew he understood Arabic very well, and could not only speak, but write it. But, before I would let him into the whole affair, I desired him to read that paper, which I found by chance in a hole of my cell. He opened it, and stood a good while looking at it, and translating it to himself. I asked him if he understood ¡L He said, he did very well, and if I desired to know its contents word for word, I must give him pen and ink, that he might translate it with more exactness. We gave him presently what he required, and he went on translating it in order, and having done, he said: 'What is here set down in Spanish, is precisely what is contained in this Moorish paper; and you must take notice, that where it says, Lela Marien, it means our Lady the Virgin Mary.' We read the paper, which was as follows:
"Think, gentlemen, whether we had not reason to be overjoyed and surprised at the contents of this paper; and both our joy and surprise were so great, that the renegado perceived that the paper was not found by accident, but was written to one of us; and therefore he entreated us, if what he suspected was true, to confide in him, and tell him all; for he would venture his life for our liberty; and, saying this, he pulled a brass crucifix out of his bosom, and, with many tears, swore by the God that image represented, in whom he, though a great sinner, truly and firmly believed, that he would faithfully keep secret whatever we should discover to him: for he imagined, and almost defined, that, by means of her who had written that letter, himself and all of us should regain our liberty, and he, in particular, attain what he so earnestly desired, which was, to be restored to the bosom of the Holy Church his mother, from which, like a rotten member, he had been separated and cut off through his sin and ignorance. The renegado said this with so many tears, and signs of so much repentance, that we unanimously agreed to tell him the truth of the case; and so we gave him an account of the whole, without concealing anything from him. We showed him the little window out of which the cane had appeared, and by that he marked the house, and resolved to take especial care to inform himself who lived in it. We also agreed it would be right to answer the Moor's billet; and, as we now had one who knew -- how to do it, the renegado that instant wrote what I dictated to him, which was exactly what I shall repeat to you; for of all the material circumstances which befell me in this adventure, not one has yet escaped my memory, nor shall I ever forget them whilst I have breath. In short, the answer to the Moor was this:
"This letter being written and folded up, I waited two days until the bath was empty as before, and then presently I took my accustomed post upon the terrace, to see if the cane appeared, and it was not long before it did so. As soon as I saw it, though I could not discern who held it out, I showed the paper, as giving them notice to put the thread to it; but it was already fastened to the cane, to which I tied the letter, and in a short time after our star appeared again with the white flag of peace, the handkerchief. It was let drop, and I took it up, and found in it, in all kinds of coin, both silver and gold, above fifty crowns; which multiplied our joy fifty times, confirming the hopes we had conceived of regaining our liberty. That same evening our renegado returned, and told us, he had learned that the same Moor we were before informed of, dwelt in that house, and that his name was Agimorato; that he was extremely rich, and had one only daughter, heiress to all he had; that it was the general opinion of the whole city that she was the most beautiful woman in all Barbary; and that several of the viceroys who had been sent thither had sought to marry her, but that she never would consent; and he also learned that she had a Christian woman slave, who died some time before; all which agreed perfectly with what was in the paper. We presently consulted with the renegado what method we should take to carry off the Moorish lady, and make our escape into Christendom; and, in short, it was agreed for that time, that we should wait for a second letter from Zoraida; for that was the name of her who now desires to be called Maria; and it was easy to see that she, and no other, could find the means of surmounting the difficulties that lay in our way. After we were come to this resolution, the renegado bid us not be uneasy, for he would set us at liberty or lose his life. The bath after this was four days full of people, which occasioned the cane's not appearing in all that time; at the end of which, the bath being empty as usual, it appeared with the handkerchief so pregnant, that it promised a happy birth. The cane and the linen inclined toward me; I found in it another paper, and an hundred crowns in gold only, without any other coin. The -- renegado being present, we gave him the paper to read in our cell, and he told us it said thus:
"These were the contents of the second letter; which being heard by us all, every one offered himself, and would fain be the ransomed person, promising to go and return very punctually. I also offered myself; but the renegado opposed these offers, saying, he would in no wise consent that any one of us should get his liberty before the rest, experience having taught him how ill men, when free, keep the promises they have made while in slavery; for several considerable captives, he said, had tried this expedient, ransoming some one who should go to Valencia or Majorca with money to buy and arm a vessel, and return for those who ransomed him; but the person sent has never come back; for liberty once regained, and the fear of losing it again, effaces out of the memory all obligations in the world. And, in confirmation of this truth, he told us briefly a case which had happened very lately to certain Christian gentlemen, the strangest that had ever fallen out even in those parts where every day the most surprising and wonderful things come to pass. He concluded with saying, that the best way would be to give him the money designed for the ransom of a Christian, to buy a vessel there in Algiers, upon pretence of turning merchant, and trading to Tetuan, and on that coast; and that, being master of the vessel, he could easily contrive how to get them all out of the bath, and put them on board. But if the Moor, as she promised, should furnish money enough to redeem them all, it would be a very easy matter for them, being free, to go on board even at noon-day; the greatest difficulty he said was, that the Moors do not allow any renegado to buy or keep a vessel, unless it be a large one for the purpose of piracy; as they suspect that he who buys a. small vessel, especially if he be a Spaniard, designs only to get into Christendom with it; but this inconvenience he said he would obviate, by taking in a Tagrin Moor for partner of the vessel, and in the profits of the merchandise; and under this colour he should become master of the vessel, and then he reckoned the rest as good as done. Now, though to me and my companions it seemed better to send for the vessel to Majorca, as the Moorish lady said, yet we did not dare to contradict him; fearing if we did not do as he would have us, he should betray our design, and put us in danger of losing our lives, in case he discovered Zoraida's intrigue, for whose life we would all have laid down our own; and, therefore, we resolved to commit ourselves into the hands of God, and those of the renegado. -- And in that instant we answered Zoraida, that we would do all that she had advised; for she had directed as well as if Lela Marien herself had inspired her; and that it depended entirely upon her, either that the business should be delayed, or set about immediately. I again promised to be her husband; and so the next day, the bath happening to be clear, she, at several times, with the help of the cane and handkerchief, gave us two thousand crowns in gold, and a paper, in which she said, that the first Juma, that is Friday, she was to go to her father's garden, and that, before she went, she would give us more money; and if that was not sufficient, she bid us let her know, and she would give us as much as we desired; for her father had so much, that he would never miss it; and, besides, she kept the keys of all.
"We immediately gave five hundred crowns to the renegado, to buy the vessel. With eight hundred I
ransomed myself, depositing the money with a merchant of Valencia, then at Algiers, who redeemed me from the king,
passing his word for me, that the first ship that came from Valencia my ransom should be paid. For if he had paid
the money down, it would have made the king suspect that the money had been a great while in his hands, and that he
had employed it to his own use. In short, my master was so jealous, that I did not dare, upon any account, to pay
the money immediately. The Thursday preceding the Friday, on which the fair Zoraida was to go to the garden, she
gave us a thousand crowns more, and advertised us of her going thither, and entreated me, if I ransomed myself
first, immediately to find out her father's garden, and by all means get an opportunity of going thither and seeing
her. I answered her in few words, that I would not fail, and desired that she would take care to recommend us to
Lela Marien, using all those prayers the captive had taught her. When this was done, means were concerted for
redeeming our three companions, and getting them out of the bath, lest, seeing me ransomed, and themselves not, and
knowing there was money sufficient, they should be uneasy, and the devil should tempt them to do something to the
prejudice of Zoraida: for, though their being men of honour might have freed me from such an apprehension, I had no
mind to run the hazard, and so got them ransomed by the same means I had been ransomed myself, depositing the whole
money with the merchant, that he might safely and securely pass his word for us; to whom, nevertheless, we did not
discover our management and secret, because of the danger it would have exposed us to."
Don Quixote de la Mancha, translated by Charles Jarvis