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 Second Part
CHAPTER XXV: Wherein Is begun the braying Adventure, with the pleasant one of the Puppet- Player, and the memorable Divinations of the divining Ape.
Don Quixote's cake was dough, as the saying is, till he could hear and learn the wonders promised to be told him by the conductor of the arms; and therefore he went in quest of him, where the innkeeper told him he was; and, having found him, he desired him by all means to tell him what he had to say as to what he had inquired of him upon the road. The man answered: "The account of my wonders must be taken more at leisure, and not on foot; suffer me, good Sir, to make an end of taking care of my beast, and I will tell you things which will amaze you." — "Let not that be any hindrance," answered Don Quixote, "for I will help you;" and so he did, winnowing the. barley, and cleaning the manger; a piece of humility which obliged the man readily to tell him what he desired; and seating himself upon a stone bench without the inn door, and Don Quixote by his side, the scholar, the page, Sancho Panza, and the innkeeper, serving as his senate and auditory, he began in this manner:
"You must understand, gentlemen, that, in a town four leagues and a half from this inn, it happened that an alderman, through the artful contrivance (too long to be told) of a wench, his maid-servant, lost his ass; and though the said alderman used all imaginable diligence to find him, it was not possible. Fifteen days were passed, as public fame says, since the ass was missing, when the losing alderman being in the market-place, another alderman of the same town said to him, 'Pay me for my good news, neighbour; for your ass has appeared.' — 'Most willingly, neighbour,' answered the other;' but let us know where he has been seen.' — 'In the mountain,' answered the finder;' I saw this morning, without a pannel, or any kind of furniture about him, and so lank, that it would grieve one to see him: I would fain have driven him before me, and brought him to you; but he is already become so wild and so shy, that when I went near him, away he galloped, and ran into the most hidden part of the mountain. If you have a mind we should both go to seek him, let me but put up this ass at home, and I will return instantly.' — 'You will do me a great pleasure,' replied he of the ass, 'and I will endeavour to pay you in the same coin.' With all these circumstances, and after the very same manner, is the story told by all who are thoroughly acquainted with the truth of the affair.
"In short, the two aldermen, on foot, and hand in hand, went to the mountain; and, coming to the very place where they thought to find the ass, they found him not, nor was he to be seen anywhere thereabout, though they searched diligently after him. Perceiving then that he was not to be found, the alderman that had seen him said to the other, 'Hark you, friend, a device is come into my head, by which we shall assuredly discover -- this animal, though he were crept into the bowels of the earth, not to say of the mountain; and it is this: I can bray marvellously well, and if you can do so never so little, conclude the business done.' — 'Never so little, say you, neighbour?' replied the other;' before God, I yield the precedence to none, no, not to asses themselves.' — 'We shall see that immediately," answered the second alderman;' for I propose that you shall go on one side of the mountain, and I on the other, and so we shall traverse and encompass it quite round; and every now and then you shall bray, and so will I; and the ass will most certainly hear and answer us, if he be in the mountain.' To which the master of the ass answered, 'Verily, neighbour, the device is excellent, and worthy of your great ingenuity.' So parting according to agreement, it fell out, that they both brayed at the same instant, and each of them, deceived by the braying of the other, ran to seek the other, thinking the ass had appeared; and, at the sight of each other, the loser said, 'Is it possible, neighbour, that it was not my ass that brayed?' — 'No, it was I,' answered the other. 'I tell you then,' said the owner, 'that there is no manner of difference, as to the braying part, between you and an ass; for in my life I never saw or heard anything more natural.' — 'These praises and compliments,' answered the author of the stratagem, 'belong rather to you than to me; for, by the God that made me, you can give the odds of two brays to the greatest and most skilful brayer of the world; for the tone is deep, the sustaining of the voice in time and measure, and the cadences frequent and quick; in short, I own myself vanquished, I give you the palm, and yield up the standard of this rare ability.' — 'I say,' answered the owner, 'I shall value and esteem myself the more henceforward, and shall think I know something, since I have some excellence; for, though I fancied I brayed well, I never flattered myself I came up to the pitch you are pleased to Say.' — 'I tell you,' answered the second, 'there are rare abilities lost in the world, and that they are ill bestowed on those who know not how to employ them to advantage.' — 'Ours, 'added the owner, 'excepting in cases like the present, cannot be of service to us; and, even in this, God grant they prove of any benefit.'
"This said, they separated again, and fell anew to their braying; and at every turn they deceived each other, and met again,, till they agreed, as a countersign, to distinguish their own brayings from that of the ass, that they should bray twice together, one immediately after the other. Thus doubling their brayings, they made the tour of the mountain; but no answer from the stray ass, no, not by signs; indeed how could the poor creature answer, when they found it in the thickest of the wood half devoured by wolves? At sight whereof the owner said, 'I wondered indeed he did not answer, for, had he not been dead, he would have brayed at hearing us, or he were no ass; nevertheless, neighbour, I esteem the pains I have been at in seeking him to be well bestowed, though I have found him dead, since I have heard you bray with such a grace.' — 'It is in a good hand,' answered the other;' for if the abbot sings well, the novice comes not far behind him.'
"Hereupon they returned home, disconsolate and hoarse, and recounted to their friends, neighbours, and acquaintance, all that had happened in the search after the ass; each of them exaggerating the other's excellence in braying. The story spread all over the adjacent villages; and the devil, who sleeps not, as he loves to sow and promote squabbles and discord -- wherever he can, raising a bustle in the wind, and great chimeras out of next to nothing, so ordered and brought it about, that the people of other villages, upon seeing any of the folks of our town, would presently fall a-braying, as it were hitting us in the teeth with the braying of our aldermen. The boys gave into it, which was all one as putting it into the hands and mouths of all the devils in hell; and thus braying spread from one town to another, insomuch that the natives of the town of Bray(168) are as well known as white folks are distinguished from black. And this unhappy jest has gone so far, that the mocked have often sallied out in arms against the mockers, and given them battle, without king or rook,(169) or fear or shame, being able to prevent it. To-morrow, I believe, or next day, those of our town, the brayers, will take the field against the people of another village about two leagues from ours, being one of those which persecute us most. And, to be well provided for them, I have brought the lances and halberds you saw me carrying. And these are the wonders I said I would tell you; and if you do not think them such, I have no other for you."
And here the honest man ended his story. At this juncture there came in at the door of the inn a man clad from head to foot in chamois leather, hose, doublet, and breeches, and said with a loud voice, "Master Host, have you any lodging? For here come the divining ape and the puppet-show of Melisendra's deliverance." — "Body of me," cried the innkeeper, "what! Master Peter here! we shall have a brave night of it." I had forgot to tell you, that this same Master Peter had his left eye, and almost half his cheek, covered with a patch of green taffeta, a sign that something ailed all that side of his face. The landlord went on saying, "Welcome, Master Peter! where is the ape and the puppet-show? I do not see them." — "They are hard by," answered the all-chamois man; "I came before, to see if there be any lodging to be had." — "I would turn out the Duke d'Alva himself, to make room for Master Peter," answered the innkeeper; "let the ape and the puppets come; for there are guests this evening in the inn who will pay for seeing the show and the abilities of the ape." — "So be it in God's name," answered he of the patch; "and I will lower the price, and reckon myself well paid with only bearing my charges. I will go back, and hasten the cart with the ape and the puppets." And immediately he went out of the inn.
Then Don Quixote asked the landlord what Master Peter this was, and what puppets, and what ape, he had with him. To which the landlord answered, "He is a famous puppet-player, who has been a long time going up and down these parts of Mancha in Arragon, with a show of Melisendra and the famous Don Gayferos; which is one of the best stories, and the best performed, of any that has been seen hereabouts these many years. He has also an ape, whose talents exceed those of all other apes, and even those of men; for, if anything is asked him, he listens to it attentively, and then, leaping upon his master's shoulder, and putting his mouth to his ear, he tells him the answer to the question that is put to him; which Master Peter presently repeats aloud. It is true, he tells much more concerning things past than things to come; and, though he does not always hit right, yet for the most part he is not much out; so that we are inclined to believe he has the devil within him. He has two reals for each question, if the ape answers; I mean, if his master answers for him, after the ape has whispered him in the ear; and therefore it is thought this same Peter must be very rich. He is, besides, a very gallant man, as they say in Italy, and -- a boon companion, and lives the merriest life in the world. He talks more than six, and drinks more than a dozen, and all this at the expense of his tongue, his ape, and his puppets."
By this time Master Peter was returned, and in the cart came the puppets, and a large ape without a tail, and its buttocks bare as a piece of felt; but not ill-favoured. Don Quixote no sooner espied him, than he began to question him, saying, "Master Diviner, pray tell me what fish do we catch, and what will be our fortune? See, here are my two reals," bidding Sancho to give them to Master Peter, who answered for the ape, and said, "Signor, this animal makes no answer, nor gives any information as to things future; he knows something of the past, and a little of the present." — "Odds bobs," quoth Sancho, "I would not give a brass farthing to be told what is past of myself; for who can tell that better than myself? And for me to pay for what I know already would be a very great folly. But since he knows things present, here are my two reals, and let good man ape tell me what my wife Teresa Panza is doing, and what she is employed about." Master Peter would not take the money, saying, "I will not be paid beforehand, nor take your reward, till I have done you the service;" and giving with his right hand two or three claps on his left shoulder, at one spring the ape jumped upon it, and, laying its mouth to his ear, grated its teeth and chattered apace; and, having made this grimace for the space of a Credo, at another skip down it jumped on the ground, and presently Master Peter ran and kneeled before Don Quixote, and, embracing his legs, said, "These legs I embrace, just as if I embraced the two pillars of Hercules, O illustrious reviver of the long-forgotten order of chivalry! O never sufficiently extolled knight, Don Quixote de la Mancha! Thou spirit to the faint-hearted, stay to those that are falling, arm to those that are already fallen, staff and comfort to all that are unfortunate!" Don Quixote was thunderstruck, Sancho in suspense, the scholar surprised, the page astonished, the braying-man in a gaze, the innkeeper confounded, and lastly, all amazed, that heard the expressions of the puppet-player, who proceeded, saying, "And thou, O good Sancho Panza, the best squire to the best knight in the world, rejoice that thy good wife Teresa is well, at this very hour is dressing a pound of flax; by the same token that she has by her left side a broken-mouthed pitcher, which holds a very pretty scantling of wine, with which she cheers her spirits at her work." — "I verily believe it," answered Sancho; "for she is a blessed one; and, were she not a little jealous, I would not change her for the giantess Andandona, who, in my master's opinion, was a very accomplished woman, and a special housewife; and my Teresa is one of those, who will make much of themselves, though it be at the expense of their heirs." — "Well," said Don Quixote, "he who reads much and travels much, sees much and knows much. This I say, because what could have been able to persuade me that there are apes in the world that can divine, as I have now seen with my own eyes? Yes, I am that very Don Quixote de la Mancha, that this good animal has said, though he has expatiated a little too much in my commendation. But, be I as I will, I give thanks to Heaven that endued me with a tender and compassionate disposition of mind, always inclined to do good to everybody, and hurt nobody." — "If I had money," said the page, "I would ask Master Ape what will befall me in my intended expedition." To which Master Peter, who was already got up from kneeling at Don Quixote's feet, answered, "I have already told you, that -- this little beast does not answer as to things future; but, did he answer such questions, it would be no matter whether you had money or not; for, to serve Signor Don Quixote here present, I would waive all advantages in the world; and now, because it is my duty, and to do him a pleasure besides, I intend to put in order my puppet-show, and entertain all the folks in the inn gratis." The innkeeper hearing this, and above measure overjoyed, pointed out a convenient place for setting up the show, which was done in an instant.
Don Quixote was not entirely satisfied with the ape's divinations, not thinking it likely that an ape should divine things either future or past; and so, while Master Peter was preparing his show, Don Quixote drew Sancho aside to a corner of the stable, where, without being overheard by anybody, he said to him: "Look you, Sancho, I have carefully considered the strange ability of this ape; and, by my account, I find that Master Peter his owner must doubtless have made a tacit or express pact with the devil." — "Nay," quoth Sancho, "if the pack be express from the devil, it must needs be a very sooty pack; but what advantage would it be to this same Master Peter to have such a pack?" — "You do not understand me, Sancho," said Don Quixote: "I only mean, that he must certainly have made some agreement with the devil to infuse this ability into the ape, whereby he gets his bread; and, after he is become rich, he will give him his soul, which is what the universal enemy of mankind aims at. And what induces me to this belief is, finding that the ape answers only as to things past or present, and the knowledge of the devil extends no farther; for he knows the future only by conjecture, and not always that; for it is the prerogative of God alone to know times and seasons, and to him nothing is past or future, but everything present. This being so, as it really is, it is plain the ape talks in the style of the devil; and I wonder he has not been accused to the inquisition, and examined by torture till he confesses, by virtue of what or of whom he divines; for it is certain this ape is no astrologer; and neither his master nor he knows how to raise one of those figures called judiciary, which are now so much in fashion in Spain, that you have not any servant-maid, page, or cobbler, but presumes to raise a figure, as if it were a knave of cards, from the ground; thus destroying, by their lying and ignorant pretences, the wonderful truth of the science. I know a certain lady, who asked one of these figure-raisers whether a little lap-dog she had would breed, and how many and of what colour the puppies would be. To which Master Astrologer, after raising a figure, answered that the bitch would pup, and have three whelps, one green, one carnation, and the other mottled, upon condition she should take dog between the hours of eleven and twelve at noon or night, and that it were on a Monday or a Saturday. Now it happened, that the bitch died some two days after of a surfeit, and Master Figure-raiser had the repute in the town of being as consummate an astrologer as the rest of his brethren." — "But for all that," quoth Sancho, "I should be glad your worship would desire Master Peter to ask his ape, whether all be true which befell you in the cave of Montesinos; because, for my own part, begging your worship's pardon, I take it to be all sham and lies, or at least a dream." — "It may be so," answered Don Quixote;" but I will do what you advise me, since I myself begin to have some kind of scruples about it."
While they were thus confabulating, Master Peter came to look for -- Don Quixote, to tell him the show was ready, desiring he would come to see it, for it deserved it. Don Quixote communicated to him his thought, and desired him to ask his ape presently, whether certain things, which befell him in the cave of Montesinos, were dreams or realities; for, to his thinking, they seemed to be a mixture of both. Master Peter, without answering a word, went and fetched his ape, and placing him before Don Quixote and Sancho, said: "Look you, Master Ape, this knight would know whether certain things which befell him in the cave, called that of Montesinos, were real or imaginary." And making the usual signal, the ape leaped upon his left shoulder; and, seeming to chatter to him in his ear, Master Peter presently said: "The ape says, that part of the things your worship saw, or which befell you, in the said cave are false, and part likely to be true; and this is what he knows, and no more, as to this question; and if your worship has a mind to put any more to him, on Friday next he will answer to everything you shall ask him; for his virtue is at an end for the present, and will not return till that time." — "Did not I tell you," quoth Sancho, "it could never go down with me, that all your worship said, touching the adventures of the cave, was true? no, nor half of it." — "The event will show that, Sancho," answered Don Quixote;" for time, the discoverer of all things, brings everything to light, though it lie hid in the bowels of the earth; and let this suffice at present, and let us go and see honest Master Peter's show; for I am of opinion there must be some novelty in it." — "How some?" quoth Master Peter. "Sixty thousand novelties are contained in this puppet-show of mine: I assure you, Signor Don Quixote, it is one of the top things to be seen that the world affords at this day; Operibus credite, et non verbis; and let us to work; for it grows late, and we have a great deal to do, to say, and to show."
Don Quixote and Sancho obeyed, and came where the show was set out, stuck round with little wax-candles, so that it made a delightful and shining appearance. Master Peter, who was to manage the figures, placed himself behind the show, and before it stood his boy, to serve as an interpreter and expounder of the mysteries of the piece. He had a white wand in his hand, to point to the several figures as they entered. All the folks in the inn being placed, some standing opposite to the show, and Don Quixote, Sancho, the page, and the scholar, seated in the best places, the drugger-man began to say what will be heard or seen by those who will be at the pains of hearing or seeing the following chapter.
Don Quixote de la Mancha, translated by Charles Jarvis