THEY came in sight of thirty or forty windmills standing in the plain; and as soon as Don Quixote espied then, he said to his squire:
“Fortune disposes our affairs better than we ourselves could have desired. Look yonder, friend Sancho Panza, where thou mayest discover somewhat more than thirty monstrous giants, whom I intend to encounter and slay, and with their spoils we will begin to enrich ourselves; for it is lawful war, and doing God good service, to remove so wicked a generation from off the face of the earth.”
“What giants?” said Sancho Panza.
“Those thou seest yonder,” answered his master, “with their long arms; for some are wont to have them almost of the length of two leagues.”
“Look, sir,” answered Sancho, “those which appear yonder are not giants, but windmills, and what seem to be arms are the sails, which, whirled about by the wind, make the millstone go.”
“It is very evident,” answered Don Quixote, “that thou art not versed in the business of adventures. They are giants; and if thou art afraid, get thee aside and pray, while I engage them in fierce and unequal combat.”
So saying, he clapped spurs to his steed, notwithstanding the cries his squire sent after him, assuring him that they were certainly windmills, and not giants. But he was so 159 fully possessed that they were giants, that he neither heard the outcries of his squire Sancho, nor yet discerned what they were, though he was very near them, but went on, crying out aloud, “Fly not, ye cowards and vile caitiffs! It is a single knight who assaults you.”
The wind now rising a little, the great sails began to move, upon which Don Quixote called out:
“Although ye should have more arms than the giant Briareus, ye shall pay for it!”
Thus recommending himself devoutly to his lady Dulcinea, beseeching her to succor him in the present danger, being well covered with buckler and setting his lance in the rest, he rushed on as fast as Rozinante could gallop and attacked the first mill before him, when, running his lance into the sail, the wind whirled it about with so much violence that it broke the lance to shivers, dragging horse and rider after it, and tumbling them over and over on the plain in very evil plight. Sancho Panza hastened to his assistance as fast as the ass could carry him; and when he came up to his master he found him unable to stir, so violent was the blow which he and Rozinante had received in their fall.
“God save me!” quoth Sancho, “did not I warn you to have a care of what you did, for that they were nothing but windmills? And nobody could mistake them but one that had the like in his head.”
“Peace, friend Sancho,” answered Don Quixote; “for matters of war are, of all others, most subject to continual change. Now I verily believe, and it is most certainly the fact, that the sage Freston, who stole away my chamber and books, has metamorphosed these giants into windmills, on purpose to deprive me of the glory of vanquishing them, so great is 160 the enmity he bears me! But his wicked arts will finally avail but little against the goodness of my sword.”
“God grant it!” answered Sancho Panza. Then, helping him to rise, he mounted him again upon the steed, which was almost disjointed.
WHILE the knight and his squire were conferring together. Don Quixote perceived in the road on which they were traveling a great and thick cloud of dust coming toward them; upon which he turned to Sancho, and said:
“This is the day, oh, Sancho. that shall manifest the good that fortune hath in store for me. This is the day, I say, on which shall be proved, as at all times, the valor of my arm, and on which I shall perform exploits that will be recorded and written in the book of fame, and there remain to all succeeding ages. Seest thou that cloud of dust, Sancho? It is raised by a prodigious army of divers and innumerable nations, who are on the march this way.”
“If so, there must be armies,” said Sancho; “for here, on this side, arises just another cloud of dust.”
Don Quixote turned, and seeing that it really was so he rejoiced exceedingly, taking it for granted there were two armies coming to engage in the midst of that spacious plain; for at all hours and moments his imagination was full of the battles, enchantments, adventures, extravagances, amours, and challenges detailed in his favorite books, and in every thought, word, and action he reverted to them. Now, the cloud of dust he saw was raised by two great flocks of 161 sheep going the same road from different parts, and as the dust concealed them until they came near, and Don Quixote affirmed so positively that they were armies, Sancho began to believe it, and said, “Sir, what then must we do?”
“What?” replied Don Quixote. “Favor and assist the weaker side! Thou must know, Sancho, that the army which marches toward us in front is led and commanded by the great Emperor Alifanfaron, lord of the great island of Taprobana; this other, which marches behind us, is that of his enemy, the King of the Garamantes, Pentapolin of the Naked Arm, for he always enters into battle with his right arm bare.”
“But why do these two princes bear one another so much ill will?” demanded Sancho.
“They hate one another,” answered Don Quixote, “because this Alifanfaron is a furious pagan, in love with the daughter of Pentapolin, who is a most beautiful and superlatively graceful lady, and also a Christian; but her father will not give her in marriage to the pagan king unless he will first renounce the religion of his false prophet Mohammed, and turn Christian.”
“By my beard,” said Sancho, “Pentapolin is in the right; and I am resolved to assist him to the utmost of my power.”
“Therein thou wilt do thy duty, Sancho,” said Don Quixote; “for, in order to engage in such contests, it is not necessary to be dubbed a knight.”
“I easily comprehend that,” answered Sancho. “But where shall we dispose of this ass, that we may be sure to find him when the fray is over? For I believe it was never yet the fashion to go to battle on a beast of this kind.”
“Thou art in the right,” said Don Quixote; “and thou mayest let him take his chance whether he be lost or not, 162 for we shall have such choice of horses after the victory, that Rozinante himself will run a risk of being exchanged. But listen with attention while I give thee an account of the principal knights in the approaching armies; and that thou mayest observe them the better, let us retire to that rising ground, whence both armies may be distinctly seen.”
They did so, and placed themselves for that purpose on a hillock, from which the two flocks which Don Quixote mistook for armies might easily have been discerned, had not their view been obstructed by the clouds of dust. Seeing, however, in his imagination what did not exist, he began with a loud voice to say:
“The knight thou seest yonder with the gilded armor, who bears on his shield a lion crowned, couchant at a damsel’s feet, is the valorous Laurcalco, Lord of the Silver Bridge. The other, with the armor flowered with gold, who bares the three crowns argent in a field azure, is the formidable Micocolembo, Grand Duke of Quiracia. The third, with gigantic limbs, who marches on his right, is the undaunted Brandabarbaran of Boliche, Lord of the Three Arabias. He is armed with a serpent’s skin, and bears instead of a shield, a gate, which fame says is one of those belonging to the temple which Samson pulled down when with his death he avenged himself upon his enemies. But turn thine eyes on this other side, and there thou wilt see, in front of this other army, the ever-victorious and never-vanquished Timonel de Carcajona, Prince of the New Biscay, who comes clad in armor quartered azure, vert, argent, and or; bearing on his shield a car or in a field gules, with a scroll inscribed MIAU, being the beginning of his mistress’s name, who, it is reported, is the peerless Maiaulina, daughter of Alphenniquen, Duke of Algarve. That other who burdens and oppresses the back 163 of yon powerful steed, whose armor is as white as snow, and his shield also white, without any device, is a new knight, by birth a Frenchman, called Peter Papin, Lord of the Baronies of Utrique. The other whom thou seest, with his armed heels pricking the flanks of that fleet piebald courser, and his armor of pure azure, is the mighty Duke of Nerbia, Espartafilardo of the Wood, whose device is an asparagus-bed, with this motto in Castilian, ‘Thus drags my fortune.’ ”
In this manner he went on naming sundry knights of each squadron, as his fancy dictated, and giving to each their arms, colors, devices, and mottoes extempore; and, without pausing, he continued thus:
“That squadron in the front is formed and composed of people of different nations. Here stand those who drink the sweet waters of the famous Xanthus; the mountaineers who tread the Massilian fields; those who sift the pure and fine gold-dust of Arabia Felix; those who dwell along the famous and refreshing banks of the clear Thermodon; those who drain, by divers and sundry ways, the golden veins of Pactolus; the Numidians, unfaithful in their promises, the Persians, famous for bows and arrows; the Parthians and Medes, who fight flying; the Arabians, perpetually changing their habitations; the Scythians, as cruel as fair; the broad-lipped Ethiopians; and an infinity of other nations, whose countenances I see and know, although I cannot recollect their names. In that other squadron come those who drink the crystal streams of olive-bearing Betis; those who brighten and polish their faces with the liquor of the ever rich and golden Tagus; those who enjoy the beneficial waters of the divine Genil; those who tread the Tartesian fields, abounding in pasture; those who recreate themselves in the Elysian meads of Xereza; the rich Manchegans, crowned with yellow 164 ears of corn; those clad in iron, the antique remains of the Gothic race; those who bathe themselves in Pisuerga, famous for the gentleness of its current; those who feed their flocks on the spacious pastures of the winding Guadiana, celebrated for its hidden source; those who shiver on the cold brow of the woody Pyreneus and the snowy tops of lofty Appeninus; in a word, all that Europe contains and includes.”
Good Heaven, how many provinces did he name, how many nations did he enumerate, giving to each, with wonderful readiness, its peculiar attributes! Sancho Panza stood confounded at his discourse, without speaking a word; and now and then he turned his head about to see whether he could discover the knights and giants his master named. But, seeing none, he said:
“Sir, the devil a man, or giant, or knight, of all you have named, can I see anywhere; perhaps all may be enchantment, like last night’s goblins.”
“How sayest thou, Sancho?” answered Don Quixote. “Hearest thou not the neighing of the steeds, the sound of the trumpets, and the rattling of the drums?”
“I hear nothing,” answered Sancho, “but the bleating of sheep and lambs.”
And so it was, for now the two flocks were come very near them.
“Thy fears, Sancho,” said Don Quixote, “prevent thee from hearing or seeing aright; for one effect of fear is to disturb the senses and make things not to appear what they really are; and if thou art so much afraid, retire, and leave me alone, for with my single arm I shall insure victory to that side which I favor with my assistance.” Then, clapping spurs to Rozinante and setting his lance in rest, he darted down the hillock like lightning. Sancho cried out to him:165
“Hold, my Lord Don Quixote — come back! As God shall save me, they are lambs and sheep you are going to encounter! Pray come back! Wo the father that begot me! What madness is this! Look: there is neither giant nor knight, nor cats, nor arms, nor shields quartered nor entire, nor true azures nor bedeviled! Sinner that I am! What are you doing?”
Notwithstanding all this, Don Quixote turned not again, but still went on, crying aloud:
“Ho, knights! You that follow and fight under the banner of the valiant Emperor Pentapolin of the Naked Arm, follow me all, and you shall see with how much ease I revenge him on his enemy Alifanfaron of Taprobana!”
With these words he rushed into the midst of the squadron of sheep, and began to attack them with his lance as courageously and intrepidly as if in good earnest he was engaging his mortal enemies. The shepherds and herdsmen who came with the flocks called out to him to desist; but seeing it was to no purpose, they unbuckled their slings and began to salute his ears with a shower of stones. Don Quixote cared not for the stones, but, galloping about on all sides, cried out:
“Where art thou, proud Alifanfaron? Present thyself before me! I am a single knight, desirous to prove thy valor hand to hand, and to punish thee with the loss of life for the wrong thou dost to the valiant Pentapolin Garamanta!”
At that instant a large stone struck him with such violence on the side that it bent a couple of ribs in his body; insomuch that he believed himself either slain or sorely wounded; and therefore, remembering his balsam, he pulled out the cruse, and, applying it to his mouth, began to swallow some 166 of the liquor; but before he could take what he thought sufficient, another of those almonds hit him full on the hand and dashed the cruse to pieces, knocking out three or four of his teeth, by the way, and grievously bruising two of his fingers. Such was the first blow, and such the second, that the poor knight fell from his horse to the ground. The shepherds ran to him, and verily believed they had killed him; whereupon in all haste they collected their flock, took up their dead, which were about seven, and marched off without further inquiry.
AT the hostelry of the Mulinillo, which is situate on the confines of he renowned plain of Alcudia, and on the road from Castile to Andalusia, two striplings met by chance on one of the hottest days of summer. One of them was about fourteen or fifteen years of age, the other could not have passed his seventeenth year. Both were well formed and of comely features, but in very ragged and tattered plight. Cloaks they had none; their breeches were of linen, and their stockings were merely those bestowed on them by nature. It is true they boasted shoes; one of them wore sandals of cord, or rather dragged them along at his heels; the other had what might as well have been shackles, for all the good they did the wearer, being rent in the uppers, and without soles. Their respective head-dresses were a tiny round cap and a shabby hat with wide, flapping brim, low in the crown. On his shoulder, and crossing his breast like a scarf, one of them carried a shirt the color of chamois leather; the body of 167 this garment was rolled up and thrust into one of its sleeves. The other, though traveling without encumbrance, bore on his chest what seemed a large pack, but which proved, on closer inspection, to be the remains of a starched ruff, now stiffened with grease instead of starch, and so worn and frayed that it looked like a bundle of hemp.
Within this collar, wrapped up and carefully treasured, was a pack of cards, excessively dirty, and reduced to an oval form by repeated paring of their dilapidated corners. The lads were both much burned by the sun, their hands were anything but clean, and their long nails were edged with black. One had a dudgeon-dagger by his side, the other a knife with a yellow handle.
These gentlemen had selected for a nap the porch or penthouse commonly found before an inn; and finding themselves opposite each other, he who appeared to be the elder said to the younger:
“Of what country is your Worship, noble sir, and by what road do you propose to travel?”
“What is my country, sir Cavalier?” returned the other, “I know not, nor yet which way my road lies.”
“Your Worship, however, does not appear to have come from heaven,” rejoined the elder; “and as this is not a place wherein a man can take up his abode for good, you must, of necessity, be going farther.”
“That is true,” replied the younger. “I have, nevertheless, told you only the veritable fact; for as to my country, it is mine no more, since all that belongs to me there is a father who does not consider me his child, and a stepmother who treats me like a son-in-law. With regard to my road, it is that which chance places before me, and it will end wherever 168 I may find some one who will give me the wherewithal to sustain this miserable life of mine.”
“Is your Worship acquainted with any craft?” inquired the first speaker.
“With none,” returned the other, “except that I can run like a hare, leap like a goat, and handle a pair of scissors with great dexterity.”
“These things are all very good, useful, and profitable,” rejoined the elder. “You will readily find the sacristan of some church who will give your Worship the offering-bread of All Saints’ Day, for cutting him his paper flowers for Holy Thursday.”
“But that is not my manner of cutting,” replied the younger. “My father, who, by God’s mercy, is a tailor and hose-maker, taught me to cut out that kind of spatterdashes which cover the fore part of the leg and come down over the instep. These I can cut out in such style, that I could pass an examination for the rank of master in the craft; but my ill luck keeps my talents in obscurity.”
“The common lot, sir, of able men,” replied the first speaker, “for I have always heard that it is the way of the world to let the finest talents go to waste. But your Worship is still at an age when this evil fortune may be remedied, and the rather since, if I mistake not, and my eyes do not deceive me, you have other advantageous qualities which it is your pleasure to keep secret.”
“It is true that I have such,” returned the younger gentleman, “but they are not of a character to be publicly proclaimed, as your Worship has very judiciously observed.”
“But I,” rejoined the elder, “may with confidence assure you that I am one of the most discreet and prudent persons to be found within many a league. In order to induce your 169 Worship to open your heart and repose your faith in my honor, I will enlist your sympathies by first laying bare my own bosom; for I imagine that fate has not brought us together without some hidden purpose. Nay, I believe that we are to be true friends from this day to the end of our lives.”
“I, then, your Lordship, am a native of Fuenfrida, a place very well known, indeed renowned for the illustrious travelers who are constantly passing through it. My name is Pedro del Rincon; my father is a person of quality, and a minister of the Holy Crusades, since he holds the important charge of selling indulgences. I was for some time his assistant in that office, and acquitted myself so well, that in all things concerning the sale of indulgences or bulls I could hold my own with any man, though he had the right to consider himself the most accomplished in the profession. But one day, having placed my affections on the money produced by the bulls rather than on the bulls themselves, I took a bag of crowns to my arms, and we two departed together for Madrid.
“In that city, such are the facilities that offer themselves, I soon gutted my bag, and left it with as many wrinkles as a bridegroom’s pocket-handkerchief. The person who was charged with the collection of the money hastened to track my steps. I was caught, and met with but scant indulgence. Only, in consideration of my youth, their worships the judges contented themselves with introducing me to the acquaintance of the whipping-post, to have the flies whisked from my shoulders for a certain time, and commanding me to abstain from revisiting the court and capital during a period of four years. I took the matter coolly, bent my shoulders to the operation performed at their command, and made so much haste to begin my prescribed term of exile, that I had no time to procure 170 sumpter-mules, but contented myself with selecting from my valuables such as seemed most important and useful.
“I did not fail to include this pack of cards among them” — here the speaker exhibited that oviform specimen already mentioned — “and with these I have gained my bread among the inns and taverns between Madrid and this place, by playing at Vingt-et-un. It is true they are somewhat soiled and worn, as your Worship sees; but for him who knows how to handle them, they possess a marvelous virtue, which is, that you never cut them but you find an ace at the bottom. If your Worship, then is acquainted with the game, you will see what an advantage it is to know for certain that you have an ace to begin with, since you may count it either for one or eleven; and so you may be pretty sure than when the stakes are laid at twenty-one, your money will be much disposed to stay at home.
“In addition to this, I have acquired the knowledge of certain mysteries regarding Lansquenet and Reversis, from the cook of an ambassador who shall be nameless; insomuch that, even as your Worship might pass as master in the cutting of spatterdashes, so could I, too, take my degree in the art of flat-catching.
“With all these acquirements, I am tolerably sure of not dying from hunger, since, even in the most retired farmhouse I come to, there is always some one to be found who will not refuse himself the recreation of a few moments at cards. We have but to make a trial where we are. Let us spread the net, and it will go hard with us if some bird out of all the muleteers standing about do not fall into it. I mean to say, that if we two begin now to play at Vingt-et-un as though we were in earnest, some one will probably desire to 171 make a third, and in that case he shall be the man to leave his money behind him.”
“With all my heart,” replied the younger lad; “and I consider that your Excellency has done me a great favor by communicating to me the history of your life. You have thereby made it impossible for me to conceal mine, and I will hasten to relate it as briefly as possible. Here it is, then:
“I was born at Pedroso, a village situate between Salamanca and Medina del Campo. My father is a tailor, as I have said, and taught me his trade. But from cutting with the scissors I proceeded — my natural abilities coming in aid — to the cutting of purses. The dull, mean life of the village, and the unloving conduct of my mother-in-law, were, besides, but little to my taste. I quitted my birthplace, therefore, repaired to Toledo to exercise my art, and succeeded in it to admiration; for there is not a reliquary suspended to the dress, not a pocket, however carefully concealed, but my fingers shall probe its contents, or my scissors snip it off, though the owner were guarded by the eyes of Argus.
“During four months I spent in Toledo I was never trapped between two doors, nor caught in the fact, nor pursued by the runners of justice, nor blown upon by an informer. It is true that a week ago, a police spy did set forth my distinguished abilities to the magistrate, and the latter, taking a fancy to me from his description, desired to make my acquaintance; but I am a modest youth, and to not wish to frequent the society of personages so important. Wherefore I took pains to excuse myself from visiting him, and departed in so much haste that I, like yourself, had no time to procure sumpter-mules or small change — nay, I could not even find a return-chaise, nor so much as a cart.”
“Console yourself for these omissions,” replied Pedro del 172 Rincon; “and since we now know each other, let us drop these grand and stately airs, and confess frankly that we have not a blessed farthing between us, nor even shoes to our feet.”
“Be it so,” returned Diego Cortado, for so the younger boy called himself. “Be it so; and since our friendship, as your Worship is pleased to say, is to last our whole lives, let us begin it with solemn and laudable ceremonies.” Saying which, Cortado rose to his feet and embraced the Rincon, who returned the compliment with equal tenderness and emotion.
They then began to play Vingt-et-un with the cards above described, which were certainly free from the royal excise stamp, but by no means free from grease and knavery; and after a few deals Cortado could turn up an ace as well as Rincon his master. When things had attained this point, it chanced that a muleteer came out at the porch, and, as Rincon has anticipated, he soon proposed to make a third in their game.
To this they willingly agreed, and in less than half an hour they had won from him twelve reals and twenty-two marvedis, which he felt sorely as twelve stabs with a dagger and twenty-two thousand sorrows. Presuming that the young chaps would not venture to defend themselves, he thought to get back his money by force; but the two friends laying hands promptly, the one on his dudgeon-dagger and the other on his yellow-handled knife, gave the muleteer so much to do, that if his companions had not hastened to assist him he would have come badly out of the quarrel.
At that moment there chanced to pass by a company of travelers on horseback, who were going to take their nap at another hostelry about half a league farther on. Seeing 173 the affray between the muleteer with two boys, they interposed, and offered to take the latter in their company to Seville, if they were going to that city.
“That is exactly where we desire to go,” exclaimed Rincon, “and we will serve your Worships in all that it shall please you to command.” Whereupon, without more ado, they departed with the travelers, leaving the muleteer despoiled of his money and furious with rage, while the hostess was in great admiration of the finished education and accomplishments of the two rogues, whose dialogue she had heard from beginning to end, while they were not aware of her presence.
When the hostess told the muleteer that she had heard the boys say that the cards they played with were false, the man tore his beard for rage, and would have followed them to the other inn, in the hope of recovering his property; for he declared it to be a serious affront, and a matter touching his honor, that two boys should have cheated a grown man like him. But his companions dissuaded him from doing what they declared would be nothing better than publishing his own folly and gullibility; and their arguments, although they did not console the muleteer, were sufficient to make him remain where he was.
Meanwhile Cortado and Rincon displayed so much zeal and readiness in the service of the travelers, that the latter gave them a lift behind them for the greater part of the way. They might many a time have rifled the portmanteaus of their temporary masters, but did not, lest they should thereby lose the happy opportunity of seeing Seville, in which city they greatly desired to exercise their talents. Nevertheless, as they entered Seville — which they did at the hour of evening prayer, and by the gate of the custom-house, on account 174 of the dues to be paid and the trunks to be examined — Cortado could not refrain from making an examination, on his own account, of the valise which a Frenchman of the company carried with him on the croup of his mule. With his yellow-handled weapon, therefore, he gave it so deep and broad a wound in the side that its very entrails were exposed to view; and he dexterously drew forth two good shirts, a sun-dial, and a memorandum-book, things that did not greatly please him when he had leisure to examine them. Thinking that, since the Frenchman carried that valise on his own mule, it must needs contain matters of more importance than those he had captured, Cortado would fain have looked further into it, but he abstained, as it was probable that the deficiency had been already discovered and the remaining effects secured. Before performing this feat the friends had taken leave of those who had fed them on their journey, and the following day they sold the two shirts in the old-clothes market, which is held at the gate of the arsenal, obtaining twenty reals for their booty.
Having despatched this business, they went to see the city, and admired the great magnificence and vast size of its principal church, and the vast concourse of people on the quays, for it happened to be the season for loading the fleet. There were also six galleys on the water, at sight of which the friends could not refrain from sighing, as they thought the day might come when they should be clapped on board one of those vessels for the remainder of their lives. They remarked the large number of basket-boys, porters, etc., who went to and fro about the ships, and inquired of one among them what sort of a trade it was — whether it was very laborious, and what were the gains.
An Asturian, of whom they made the inquiry, gave answer 175 to the effect that the trade was a very pleasant one, since they had no harbor dues to pay, and often found themselves at the end of the day with six or seven reals in their pocket, with which they might eat, drink, and enjoy themselves like kings. Those of his calling, he said, had no need to seek a master to whom security must be given, and you could dine when an where you please, since, in the city of Seville, there is not an eating-house, however humble, where you will not find all you want at any hour of the day.
The account given by the Asturian was by no means discouraging to the two friends, neither did his calling seem amidst to them; nay, rather, it appeared to be invented for the very purpose of enabling them to exercise their own profession in secrecy and safety, on account of the facilities it offered for entering houses. They consequently determined to buy such things as were required for the instant adoption of the new trade, especially as they could enter upon it without undergoing any previous scrutiny.
In reply to their further inquiries, the Asturian told them that it would be sufficient if each had a small porter’s bag of linen, either new or second-hand, so it was but clean, with three palm-baskets, two large and one small, wherein to carry the meat, fish, and fruit purchased by their employers, while the bag was to be used for carrying the bread. He took them to where all these things were sold; they supplied themselves out of the plunder of the Frenchman, and in less than two hours they might have been taken for regular graduates in their new profession, so deftly did they manage their baskets and so jauntily carry their bags. Their instructor, furthermore, informed them of the different places at which they were to make their appearance daily: in the morning at the shambles, and at the market of St. Salvador; on fast-days at 176 the fish-market; every afternoon on the quay, and on Thursdays at the fair.
All these lessons the two friends carefully stored in their memory, and the following morning both repaired in good time to the market of St. Salvador. Scarcely had they arrived before they were remarked by numbers of young fellows of the trade, who soon perceived, by the shining brightness of their bags and baskets, that they were new beginners. They were assailed with a thousand questions, to all of which they replied with great presence of mind and discretion. Presently up came two customers, one of whom had the appearance of a student; the other was a soldier. Both were attracted by the clean and new appearance of their baskets; and he who seemed to be a student beckoned Cortado, while the soldier engaged Rincon.
“In God’s name be it!” exclaimed both the novices in a breath — Rincon adding, “It is a good beginning of the trade, master, since it is your Worship that is giving me my handsel.”
“The handsel shall not be a bad one,” replied the soldier, “seeing that I have been lucky at cards of late , and am in love. I propose this day to regale the friends of my lady with a feast, and am come to buy the materials.”
“Load away, then, your Worship,” replied Rincon,” and lay on me as much as you please, for I feel courage enough to carry off the whole market; nay, if you should desire me to aid in cooking what I carry, it shall be done with all my heart.”
The soldier was pleased with the boy’s ready good-will, and told him that if he felt disposed to enter his service he would relieve him from the degrading office he then bore. But Rincon declared that, since this was the first day on which 177 he had tried it, he was not willing to abandon the work so soon, or at least until he had seen what profit there was to be made of it; but if it did not suit him, he gave the gentleman his word that he would prefer the service offered him even to that of a canon.
The soldier laughed, loaded him well, and showed him the house of his lady, bidding him observe it well that he might know it another time, so that he might be able to send him there again without being obliged to accompany him. Rincon promised fidelity and good conduct. The soldier gave him some small coins, and the lad returned like a shot to the market, that he might lose no opportunity by delay. Besides, he had been well advised in respect of diligence by the Asturian, who had likewise told him that when he was employed to carry small fish, such as sprats, sardines, or flounders, he might very well take a few for himself and have the first taste of them, were it only to diminish his expenses of the day, but that he must do this with infinite caution and prudence, lest the confidence of the employers should be disturbed; for to maintain confidence was above all things important in their trade.
But whatever haste Rincon had made to return, he found Cortado at his post before him. The latter instantly inquired how he had got on. Rincon opened his hand and showed his money, when Cortado, thrusting his arm into his bosom, drew forth a little purse which appeared to have once been of amber-colored silk, and was not badly filled. “It was with this,” said he, “that my service to his reverence the student has been rewarded — with this and two quartos besides. Do you take it, Rincon, for fear of what may follow.”
Cortado had scarcely given the purse in secret to his companion, before the student returned in a great heat and looking 178 in mortal alarm. He no sooner set eyes on Cortado, than, hastening toward him, he inquired if he had by chance seen a purse with such and such marks and tokens, and which had disappeared, together with fifteen crowns in gold pieces, three double reals, and a certain number of maravedis in quartos and octavos. “Did you take it from me yourself,” he added, “while I was buying in the market, with you standing beside me?”
“To this Cortado replied with perfect composure, “All I can tell you of your purse is, that it cannot be lost, unless, indeed, your Worship has left it in bad hands.”
“That is the very thing, sinner that I am,” returned the student. “To a certainty I must have left it in bad hands, since it has been stolen from me.”
“I say the same,” rejoined Cortado; ‘but there is a remedy for every misfortune excepting death. The best thing your Worship can do now is to have patience, for after all it is God who has made us, and after one day there comes another. If one hour gives us wealth, another takes it away; but it may happen that the man who has stolen your purse may in time repent, and may return it to your Worship, with all the interest due on the loan.”
“The interest I will forgive him,” exclaimed the student. Cortado resumed, “There are, besides, those letters of excommunication; and there is also good diligence in seeking for the thief, which is the mother of success. Of a truth, sir, I would not willingly be in the place of him who has stolen your purse; for if your Worship have received any of the sacred orders, I should feel as if I had been guilty of some great crime — nay, of sacrilege — in stealing from your person.”
“Most certainly the thief has committed a sacrilege,” replied 179 the student, in pitiable tones; “for although I am not in orders, but am only a sacristan of certain nuns, yet the money in my purse was the third of the income due from a chapelry, which I had been commissioned to receive by a priest, who is one of my friends, so that the purse, does, in fact, contain blessed and sacred money.”
“Let his eat his sin with his bread!” exclaimed Rincon at that moment. “I should be sorry to become bail for the profit he will obtain from it. There will be a day of judgment at the last, when all things will have to pass, as they say, through the holes of the colander, and it will then be known who was the scoundrel that has had the audacity to plunder and make off with the whole third of the revenue of a chapelry. But tell me, Mr. Sacristan, on your life, what is the amount of the whole yearly income?”
“Income to the devil, and you with it!” replied the sacristan, with more rage than was becoming. “Am I in the humor to talk to you about income? Tell me, brother, if you know anything of the purse; if not, God be with you. I must go and have it cried out.”
“That does not seem to me so bad a remedy,” remarked Cortado. “But I warn your Worship not to forget the precise description of the purse, nor the exact sum that it contains; for if you commit the error of a single mite, the money will never be suffered to appear again while the world is a world, and that you may take for a prophecy.”
“I am not afraid of committing any mistake in describing the purse,” returned the sacristan, “for I remember it better than I do the ringing of my bells, and I shall not commit the error of an atom.” Saying this, he drew a laced handkerchief from his pocket to wipe away the perspiration which rained down his face as from an alembic; but no sooner had 180 Cortado set eyes on the handkerchief than he marked it for his own.
When the sacristan had got to a certain distance, therefore, Cortado followed, and having overtaken him as he was mounting the steps of a church, he took him apart, and poured forth so interminable a string of rigmarole, all about the theft of the purse, and the prospect of recovering it, that the poor sacristan could do nothing but listen with open mouth, unable to make head or tail of what he said, although he made him repeat it two or three times.
Cortado meanwhile continued to look fixedly into the eyes of the sacristan, whose own were riveted on the face of the boy, and seemed to hand, as it were, on his words. This gave Cortado an opportunity to finish his job, and having cleverly whipped the handkerchief out of the pocket, he took leave of the sacristan.”
SIX months did Rodaja remain confined to his bed; and during that time he not only became reduced to a skeleton, but seemed also to have lost the use of his faculties. Every remedy that could be thought of was tried in his behalf. But although the physicians succeeded in curing the physical malady, they could not remove that of the mind; so that when he was at last pronounced cured, he was still afflicted with the strangest madness that was ever heard of among the many kinds by which humanity has been assailed. The unhappy man imagined that he was entirely made of glass; and, possessed with this idea, when any one approached him 181 he would utter the most terrible outcries, begging and beseeching them not to come near him, or they would assuredly break him to pieces, as he was not like other men, but entirely of glass from head to foot.
In the hope of rousing him from this strange hallucination, many persons, without regard to his prayers and cries, threw themselves upon him and embraced him, bidding him observe that he was not broken for all that. But all they gained by this was to see the poor creature sink to the earth, uttering lamentable moans, and instantly fall into a fainting fit, from which he could not be recovered for several hours; nay, when he did recover, it was but to renew his complaints, from which he never desisted but to implore that such a misfortune might not be suffered to happen again.
He exhorted every one to speak to him from a great distance, declaring that on this condition they might ask him what they pleased, and that he could reply with all the more effect, now he was a man of glass and not of flesh and bones; since glass, being a substance of more delicate subtlety, permits the soul to act with more promptitude and efficacy than it can be expected to do in the heavier body formed of mere earth.
Certain persons then desiring to ascertain if what he said were true, asked him many questions of great difficulty respecting various circumstances; to all these he replied with the utmost acuteness, insomuch that his answers awakened astonishment in the most learned professors of medicine and philosophy whom that university could boast. And well they might be amazed at seeing a man who was subject to so strange an hallucination as that of believing himself to be made of glass, still retain such extraordinary judgment on other points as to be capable of answering difficult questions 182 with the marvelous propriety and truth which distinguished the replies of Rodaja.
The poor man had often entreated that some case might be given to him wherein he might enclose the brittle vase of his body, so that he might not break it in putting on ordinary clothing. He was consequently furnished with a surplice of ample width, and a cloth wrapper, which he folded around him with much care, confining it to his waist with a girdle of soft cotton; but he would not wear any kind of shoes. The method he adopted to prevent any one from approaching him when they brought him food, was to fix an earthen pot into the cleft of a stick prepared for that purpose, and in this vessel he would receive such fruits as the season presented. He would not eat flesh or fish, nor would he drink anything but the water of the river, which he lapped from his hands.
In passing through the streets, Rodaja was in the habit of walking carefully in the middle of them, lest a tile should fall from the houses upon his head and break it. In the summer he slept in the open air, and in the winter he lodged at one of the inns, where he buried himself in straw to his throat, remarking that this was the most proper and secure bed for men of glass. When it thundered, Rodaja trembled like an aspen leaf, and would rush out into the fields, not returning to the city until the storm had passed.
His friends kept him shut up for some time, but perceiving that his malady increased, they at last complied with his earnest request that they would let him go about freely; and he might be seen walking through the streets of the city, dressed as we have described, to the astonishment and regret of all who knew him.
The boys soon got about him, but he kept them off with 183 his staff, requesting them to speak to him from a distance, lest they should break him, seeing that he, being a man of glass, was exceedingly tender and brittle. But far from listening to his request, the boys, who are the most perverse generation in the world, soon began to throw various missiles and even stones at him, notwithstanding all his prayers and exclamations. They declared that they wished to see if he were in truth of glass, as he affirmed; but the lamentations and outcries of the poor maniac induced the grown persons who were near to reprove and even beat the boys, whom they drove away for the moment, but who did not fail to return at the next opportunity.
One day, when a horde of these tormentors had pursued him with more than their usual pertinacity, and had worn out his patience, he turned to them, saying, “What do you want with me, you varlets, more obstinate than flies, more disgusting than bugs, and bolder than the boldest fleas? Am I, perchance, the Monte Testacio of Rome, that you cast upon me so many potsherds and tiles?”
But Rodaja was followed by many who kept about him for the purpose of hearing him reply to the questions asked, or reprove the questioner, as the case might be. And after a time even the boys found it more amusing to listen to his words than to throw tiles at him, when they gave him, for the most part, somewhat less annoyance.
The maniac Rodaja was one day passing through the ropery at Salamanca, when a woman who was working there accosted him, and said, “By my soul, Sir Doctor, I am sorry for your misfortune, but what shall I do for you, since, try as I may, I cannot weep?”
To which Rodaja, fixedly regarding her, gravely replied, “Filiæ Jerusalem, plorate super vos et super filios vestros.”184
The husband of the rope-worker was standing by, and, comprehending the reply, he said to Rodaja, “Brother Glass-case — for so they tell me you are to be called — you have more of the rogue than the fool in you!”
“You are not called on to give me an obolus,” rejoined Rodaja, “for I have not a grain of the fool about me!”
One day when he was passing near a house well known as the resort of thieves and other disorderly persons, he saw several of the inhabitants assembled round the door, and called out, “See, here you have baggage belonging to the army of Satan, and it is lodged in the house of hell accordingly.”
A man once asked him what advice he should give to a friend whose wife had left him for another, and who was in great sorrow for her loss. “You shall bid him thank God,” replied Rodaja, “for the favor he has obtained, in that his enemy is removed from his house.”
“Then you would not have him go seek her?” inquired the other.
“Let him not even think of doing so,” returned Rodaja, “for if he find her, what will he have gained but the perpetual evidence of his dishonor?”
“And what shall I do to keep peace with my own wife?” inquired the same person.
“Give her all that she can need or rightfully claim,” said the maniac, “and let her be mistress of every person and thing thy house contains, but take care that she be not mistress of thyself.”
A boy one day said to him, “Master Glass-case, I have a mind to run away from my father, and leave my home forever, because he beats me.”
“I would have thee beware, boy,” replied Rodaja. “The stripes given by a father are no dishonor to the son, and 185 may save him from those of the hangman, which are indeed a disgrace.”
Intelligence of his peculiar state, with a description of the replies he gave and the remarks he uttered, was much spread abroad, more especially among those who had known him in different parts, and great sorrow was expressed for the loss of a man who had given so fair a promise of distinction. A person of high rank then at court wrote to a friend of his at Salamanca, begging that Rodaja might be sent to him at Valladolid, and charging his friend to make all needful arrangements for that purpose. The gentleman consequently accosted Vidriera the next time he met him, and said, “Dr. Glass-case, you are to know that a great noble of the court is anxious to have you go to Valladolid.”
Whereupon Rodaja replied, “Your Worship will excuse me to that nobleman, and say that I am not fit to dwell at court, nor in the palace, because I have some sense of shame left, and do not know how to flatter.”
He was nevertheless persuaded to go, and the mode in which he traveled was as follows: a large pannier of that kind in which glass is transported was prepared, and in this Rodaja was placed, well defended by straw, which was brought up to his neck, the opposite pannier being carefully balanced by means of stones, among which appeared the necks of bottles, since Rodaja desired it to be understood that he was sent as a vessel of glass. In this fashion he journeyed to Valladolid, which city he entered by night, and was not unpacked until he had first been carefully deposited in the house of the noble who had requested his presence.
By this gentleman he was received with much kindness, and the latter said to him, “You are extremely welcome, Dr. Glass-case. I hope you have had a pleasant journey.”186
Rodaja replied that no journey could be called a bad one if it took you safe to your end, unless, indeed, it were that which led to the gallows.
Being one day shown the falconry, wherein were numerous falcons and other birds of similar kin, he remarked that the sport shown pursued by means of those birds was entirely suitable to great nobles, since the cost was as two thousand to one of the profit.
When it pleased Rodaja to go forth into the city, the nobleman caused him to be attended by a servant, whose office it was to protect him from intrusions, and see that he was not molested by the boys of the place, by whom he was at once remarked. Indeed, but few days elapsed before he became known to the whole city, since he never failed to find a reply for all who questioned or consulted him.
Among those of the former class, there once came a student, who inquired if he were a poet; to which Rodaja replied, that up to the moment they had then arrived at he had neither been so stupid nor so bold as to become a poet. “I do not understand what you mean by so stupid or so bold, Dr. Glass-case,” rejoined the student. To which Rodaja made answer, “I am not so stupid as to be a bad poet, nor so bold as to think myself capable of being a good one.”
The student then inquired in what estimation he held poets, to which he answered that he held the poets themselves in but little esteem; but as to their art, that he esteemed greatly. His hearer inquiring further what he meant by that, Rodaja said that among the innumerable poets, by courtesy so called, the number of good ones was so small as scarcely to count at all, and that as the bad were not true poets, he could not admire them; but that he admired and even reverenced greatly the art of poetry, which does in fact comprise every 187 other in itself, since it avails itself of all things, and purifies and beautifies all things, bringing its own marvelous productions to light for the advantage, the delectation, and the wonder of the world, which it fills with its benefits. He added further, “I know thoroughly to what extent and for what qualities we ought to estimate the good poet, since I perfectly well remember certain verses of Ovid,” which he proceeded to quote. He then went on:
“Who is there that has not seen a wretched scribbler longing to bring some sonnet to the ears of his neighbors? How he goes round and round them, with ‘Will your Worships excuse me if I read you a little sonnet, which I made one night on a certain occasion? for it appears to me, although indeed it be worth nothing, to have yet a certain something that I might call pretty and pleasing.’ Then shall he twist his lips, and arch his eyebrows, and make a thousand antics, diving into his pockets meanwhile and bringing out a half a hundred scraps of paper, greasy and torn, as if he had made a good million of sonnets. He then recites that which he proffered to the company, reading it in a chanting and affected voice. If, perchance, those who hear him, whether because of their knowledge or their ignorance, should fail to commend him, he says, ’Either your Worships have not listened to the verses, or I have not been able to read them properly, for in deed and in truth they deserve to be heard.’ And he begins, as before, to recite his poem, with new gestures and varied pauses. . . . ”
Rodaja was once asked how it happened that poets were always poor, to which he replied:
“If they were poor, it was because they chose to be so, since it was always in their power to be rich, if they would only take advantage of the opportunities in their hands. 188 For see how rich are their ladies!” he added. “Have they not all a very profusion of wealth in their possession? Is not their hair of gold? Are not their brows of burnished silver, their eyes of the most precious jewels, their lips of coral, their throats of ivory, and transparent crystal? Are not their tears liquid pearls, and where they plant the soles of their feet do not jasmine and roses spring up at the moment, however rebellious and sterile the earth may previously have been? Then what is their breath but pure amber, musk, and frankincense? Yet to whom do all these things belong, if not to the poets? They are, therefore, manifest signs and proofs of their great riches.”
In this manner he always spoke of bad poets. As to the good ones, he was loud in their praise, and exalted them above the horns of the moon.
Being at San Francisco, he one day saw some very indifferent pictures, by an incapable hand; whereupon he remarked that the good painters imitate Nature, while the bad ones have the impertinence to daub her face.
Having planted himself one day in front of a bookseller’s shop with great care, to avoid being broken, he began to talk to the owner, and said, “This trade would please me greatly were it not for one fault that it has.”
The bookseller inquiring what that might be, Rodaja replied, “It is the tricks you play on the writers when you purchase the copyright of a book, and the sport you make of the author if, perchance, he desire to print at his own cost. For what is your method of proceeding? Instead of one thousand five hundred copies which you agree to print for him, you print three thousand; and when the author supposes that you are selling his books, you are but disposing of your own.”189
One of those men who carry sedan-chairs, once standing by while Rodaja was enumerating the faults committed by various trades and occupations, remarked to the latter, “Of us, Sir Doctor, you can find nothing amiss to say.”
“Nothing,” replied Rodaja, “except that you are made acquainted with more sins than are known to the confessor; but with this difference, that the confessor learns them to keep all secret, but you to make them the public talks of the taverns.”
A muleteer who heard this — for all kinds of people were continually listening to him — said aloud, “There is little or nothing that you can say of us, Sir Phial, for we are people of great worth, and very useful servants to the commonwealth.”
To which the man of glass replied, “The honor of the master exalts the honor of the servant. You, therefore, who call those who hire your mules your masters, see whom you serve, and what honor you may borrow from them; for your employers are some of the dirtiest rubbish that this earth endures.
“Once, when I was not a man of glass, I was traveling on a mule, which I had hired, and I counted in her master one hundred and twenty-one defects, all capital ones, and all enemies to the human kind. All muleteers have a touch of the ruffian, a spice of the thief, and a dash of the mountebank. If their masters, as they call those they take on their mules, be of the butter-mouthed kind, they play more pranks with them than all the rogues of this city could perform in a year. If they be strangers, the muleteers rob them; if students, they malign them; if monks, they blaspheme them; but if soldiers, they tremble before them. These men, with the sailors, the carters, and the pack-carriers, 190 lead a sort of life which is truly singular, and belongs to themselves alone.
“The carter passes the greater part of his days in a space not more than a yard and a half long, for there cannot be much more between the yoke of his mules and the mouth of his cart. He is singing for one-half of his time, and blaspheming the other; and if he have to drag one of his wheels out of a hole in the mire, he is more aided, as it might seem, by two great oaths than by three strong mules.
“The mariners are a pleasant people, but very unlike those of the towns, and they can speak no other language than that used in ships. When the weather is fine they are very diligent, but very idle when it is stormy. During a tempest they order much and obey little. Their ship, which is their mess-room, is also their god, and their pastime is the torment endured by seasick passengers.
“As to the muleteers, they are a race which has taken out a divorce from all sheets, and has married the pack-saddle. So diligent and careful are these excellent men, that to save themselves form losing a day they will lose their souls. Their music is the tramp of a hoof; their sauce is hunger; their matins are an exchange of abuse and bad words; their Mass is — to hear none at all.”
While speaking thus, Rodaja stood at an apothecary’s door, and, turning to the master of the shop, he said, “Your Worship’s occupation would be a most salutary one if it were not so great an enemy to your lamps.”
“Wherein is my trade an enemy to my lamps?” asked the apothecary.
“In this way,” replied Rodaja: “whenever other oils fail you, immediately you take that of the lamp, as being the one which most readily comes to hand. But there is, indeed, 191 another fault in your trade, and one that would suffice to ruin the best accredited physician in the world.”
Being asked what that was, he replied that an apothecary never ventured to confess, or would admit, that any drug was absent from his stock; and so, if he have not the medicine prescribed, he makes use of some other which, in his opinion, has the same virtues and qualities; but as that is very seldom the case, the medicine, being badly compounded, produces an effect contrary to that expected by the physician.
Rodaja was then asked what he thought of the physicians themselves, and he replied as follows:
“The judge may distort or delay the justice which he should render us; the lawyer may support an unjust demand; the merchant may help us to squander our estate, and, in a word, all those with whom we have to deal in common life may do us more or less injury; but to kill us without fear, and standing quietly at his ease, unsheathing no other sword that that wrapped in the folds of a recipe, and without being subject to any danger of punishment, that can be done only by the physician; he alone can escape all fear of the discovery of his crimes, because at the moment of committing them he puts them under the earth. When I was a man of flesh, and not of glass, as I now am, I saw many things that might be adduced in support of what I have now said, but the relation of these I defer to some other time.”
A certain person asked him what he should do to avoid envying another, and Rodaja bade him go to sleep — “For,” said he, “while you sleep you will be the equal of him whom you envy.”
It happened on another occasion that the criminal judge passed before the place where Rodaja stood. There was a great crowd of people, and two constables attended the magistrate, 192 who was proceeding to his court, when Rodaja inquired his name. Being told, he replied:
“Now, i would lay a wager that this judge has vipers in his bosom, pistols in his inkhorn, and flashes of lightning in his hands, to destroy all that shall come within his commission. I once had a friend who inflicted so exorbitant a sentence in respect to a criminal commission which he held, that it exceeded by many carats the amount of guilt incurred by the crime of the delinquents. I inquired of him wherefore he had uttered so cruel a sentence and committed so manifest an injustice. To which he answered that he intended to grant permission of appeal, and that in this way he left the field open for the lords of the council to show their mercy by moderating and reducing that too rigorous punishment to its due proportions. But I told him it would have been still better for him to have given such a sentence as would have rendered their labor unnecessary, by which means he would also have merited and obtained the reputation of being a wise and exact judge.”
Among the number of those by whom Rodaja was constantly surrounded was an acquaintance of his own, who permitted himself to be saluted as the Doctor, although Rodaja knew well that he had not taken even the degree of bachelor. To him, therefore, he one day said:
“Take care, gossip mine, that you and your title do not meet with the Fathers of Redemption, for they will certainly take possession of your doctorship as being a creature unrighteously detained captive.”
“Let us behave well to each other, Dr. Glass-case,” said the other, “since you know that I am a man of high and profound learning.”
“I know you rather to be a Tantalus in the same,” replied 193 Rodaja; “for if learning reach high to you, you are never able to plunge into its depths.”
He was one day leaning against the stall of a tailor, who was seated with his hands before him, and to whom he said, “Without doubt, you are in the way to salvation.”
“From what symptom do you judge me to be so, Sir Doctor?” inquired the tailor.
“From the fact that, as you have nothing to do, so you have nothing to lie about, and may cease lying, which is a great step.”
Of the shoemakers he said that not one of that trade ever performed his office badly; seeing that if the shoe be too narrow, and pinches the foot, the shoemaker says, “In two hours it will be as wide as a cord sandal”; or he declares that it should be narrow, since the shoe of a gentleman must needs fit closely; and if it be too wide, he maintains that it still ought to be so, for the ease of the foot, and lest a man should have the gout.
Seeing the waiting-maid of an actress attending her mistress, he said she was much to be pitied who had to serve so many women, to say nothing of the men who she also had to wait on. The bystanders requiring to know how the damsel, who had but to serve one, could be said to wait on so many, he replied, “Is she not the waiting-maid of a queen, a nymph, a goddess, a scullery-maid, and a shepherdess? Besides that, she is also the servant of a page and a lackey. For all these, and many more, are in the person of an actress.”
Some one asked Rodaja who had been the happiest man in the world. To which he answered, “Nobody; because nobody knows who his father is, nobody lives blameless, nobody is satisfied with his lot, and nobody goes to heaven.”194
Of the fencing-masters he said that they were professors of an art which was never to be known when it was most wanted, since they pretended to reduce to mathematical demonstrations, which are infallible, the angry thoughts and movements of a man’s adversaries.
To such men as dyed their beards Rodaja always exhibited a particular enmity. One day, observing a Portuguese, whose beard he knew to be dyed, in dispute with a Spaniard, to whom he said, “I swear by the beard that I wear on my face,” Rodaja called out to him, “Halt there, friend! You should not say that you wear on your face, but that you dye on your face.”
To another, whose beard had been streaked by an imperfect dye, Dr. Glass-case said, “Your beard is true dust-colored piebald.”
He related, on another occasion, that a certain damsel, discreetly conforming to the will of her parent’s had agreed to marry an old man with a white beard, who, on the evening before his marriage was to take place, thought fit to have his beard dyed, and whereas he had taken it from the sight of his betrothed as white as snow, he presented it at the altar with a color blacker than that of pitch. Seeing this, the damsel turned to her parents and requested them to give her the spouse they had promised, saying that she would have him and no other. They assured her that he whom she there saw was the person they had before shown her, and given her for her spouse; but she refused to believe it, maintaining that he whom her parents had given her was a grave person, with a white beard. Nor was she by any means to be persuaded that the dyed man before her was her betrothed, and the marriage was broken off.
Toward elderly ladies’ companions he entertained as great 195 a dislike as toward those who dyed their beards; uttering wonderful things respecting their falsehood and affectation, their tricks and pretenses, their simulated scruples, and their real wickedness; reproaching them with their fancied maladies of stomach, and the frequent giddiness with which they were afflicted in the head. Nay, even their mode of speaking was made the subject of his censure; and he declared that there were more turns in their speech than folds in their great togas and wide gowns. Finally, he declared them altogether useless, if not much worse.
Being one day much tormented by a hornet which settled on his neck, he nevertheless refused to take it off, lest in seeking to catch the insect he should break himself; but he still complained wofully of the sting. Some one then remarked to him that it was scarcely to be supposed he would feel it much, since his whole person was of glass. But Rodaja replied that the hornet in question must needs be a slanderer, seeing that slanderers were of a race whose tongues were capable of penetrating bodies of bronze, to say nothing of glass.
A monk who was enormously fat one day passed near where Rodaja was sitting, when one who stood by ironically remarked that the father was so reduced and consumptive as scarcely to be capable of walking. Offended by this, Rodaja exclaimed, “Let none forget the words of holy Scripture, ‘Nolite tangere Christos meos’”; and, becoming still more heated, he bade those around him reflect a little, when they would see that, of the many saints canonized and placed among the number of the blessed by the Church within a few years in those parts, none had been called Captain Don Such a One, or Lawyer Don So-and-So, or Marquis of Such a Place; but all were Brother Diego, Brother Jacinto, or 196 Brother Raimundo, all monks and friars, proceeding, that is to say, from the monastic orders. “These,” he added, “are the orange-trees of heaven, whose fruits are placed on the table of God.”
Of evil-speakers Rodaja said that they were like the feathers of the eagle, which gnaw, wear away, and reduce to nothing, whatever feathers of other birds are mingled with them in beds or cushions, how good soever those feathers may be.
Concerning the keepers of gaming-houses he uttered wonders, and many more than can here be repeated — commending highly the patience of a certain gamester, who would remain all night playing and losing. Yea, though of choleric disposition by nature, he would never open his mouth to complain, although he was suffering the martyrdom of Barabbas, provided only his adversary did not cut the cards. In a word, Rodaja uttered so many sage remarks that, had it not been for the cries he sent forth when any one approached near enough to touch him, and for his peculiar dress, slight food, strange manner of eating, sleeping in the air, or lying buried in straw, no one would have supposed but that he was one of the most acute persons in the world.