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THE Conde Lucanor was one day conversing with his counsellor Patronio, in this manner: — “Patronio, I have, for a long time past, had an enemy who hath wrought me much evil, and whom I have requited in like sort; insomuch, that both by will and by works, we stand on very ill terms with each other.

“Now it hath so happened, that another man, much more powerful than either of us, is proceeding in a way that makes each of us afraid that we shall greatly suffer in consequence. And, for this reason, that enemy of mine hath sent me a message, to say that it might be well for us to agree together, in order to defend ourselves against the other, who wishes to do us some grievous mischief. For if united together, it is certain that we shall be able to defend ourselves; and if one of us act apart from 13 the other, it is certain that whomsoever of us the powerful man we dread shall wish to destroy, he will easily be able to effect his purpose. So when one of us shall have fallen, it will be still more easy for him to destroy the other. And I am now in very great doubt and perplexity about this affair. for on the one side I have my fears lest my first enemy may be laying a snare for me; and if once he hath me right fast in his power, I do think that my poor life would be in much jeopardy.

“On the other hand, if we should consent to agree, I see not how I can refuse to confide in him, nor he in me; and this holds me in great fear and uncertainty. Moreover, I am sensible that if we should not become reconciled, as he hath proposed, we shall suffer grievous injury, in the way I have already said. Now, owing to the great confidence I have in you, and in your judgment, I intreat you will advise me in what to do as to this affair.”

“Señor Conde,” replied Patronio, “this is a very important and dangerous matter; and that you may better understand what it concerns you here to do, I should like you to know what happened in Tunis to two cavaliers who lived with the Infant Henry.” And the Conde enquired how that had been?




“My Lord Conde Lucanor,” said Patronio, — “Two cavaliers, who lived with the Infant Don Henry, in Tunis, were very friendly, and always dwelt in the same inn together. And these two knights had each only one horse, and just so much as their masters were pleased to be upon pleasant terms, did these their two steeds delight to quarrel with each other. Now these two cavaliers were by no means wealthy, and they could not afford to maintain two establishments, and yet they could never remain in one place owing to the constant disturbance kicked up by their fiery horses. This annoyance they endured for a time, until, no longer able to bear with it, they related the matter to Don Henry, requesting that he would be pleased to order these vicious animals to be given, as a meal, to a lion, then in possession of the King of Tunis. Don Henry was much pleased with this proposal, and he spoke with the king. And the horses were very well valued to the cavaliers, and they placed them in the yard where the lion was. When they found themselves loose in the yard, the horses attacked each other in the fiercest manner: and while thus engaged, the door of the lion’s cage was opened. As soon as the lion walked forth into the yard, and the horses beheld him, they began to tremble very much, 15 and by degrees they drew quite close to each other. After remaining awhile together, both at once ran at the lion, and dealt him such a number of fierce kicks and bits, as to compel him to retire into his cage, whence he had come, without daring to attack the two horses, which remained safe; and from that time forth the animals became so quiet and friendly as to eat out of the same manger, and abode together in a very small stable; and this agreement was brought about between them by the great terror which the appearance of the lion had produced.

“And you, my Lord Conde Lucanor, if you have heard that your enemy hath such great dread of the man in question, and stands in much need of your assistance, as to oblige him to forget your mutual injuries, and if he understand that he cannot defend himself without you, I hold it good, that like the horses, who, approaching each other by degrees, united in the same cause, until they lost all their apprehension; so you should begin gradually to place confidence in your former enemy.”





ON another occasion the Conde Lucanor was engaged in conversing with Patronio, his counsellor, in this manner. “Patronio, I have a friend, and he and I are both desirous of accomplishing something which is for the honour and advantage of us twain. Now I could myself perform this matter, and yet I do not venture upon doing it until he shall arrive. I therefore ask of you, according to the judgment which God hath given you, to give me your opinion on this point.”

“Señor Conde,” said Patronio, “in order that you may act in this affair as seems to me best for your advantage, it pleaseth me that you should know what happened to those of the cathedral church, and to the minor Friars at Paris.” And the Conde inquired how that had taken place?



“Señor Conde,” said Patronio, “those belonging to the church declared, that seeing they were the head of the church, they ought first to ring the bell for matins. And the friars said, that it was their business to study, and to rise betimes to the matins 17 and the service, so as not to lose the hours of holy study; and that besides they were exempt, and had no reason why they should wait for any one. Upon this point the discussion became very warm, and great at length was the cost of engaging advocates and carrying on a law-suit for both sides. And long did this law-suit continue in the court of his Holiness the Pope; till, after a long period had elapsed, there was elected a certain pope, who referred the whole case to a certain cardinal, and commanded him to weigh and decide the matter on one side or the other. So the cardinal ordered all the proceedings to be brought before him, which consisted of documents so very long and heavy, that every one in court started at the sight of them. And after the cardinal found he had at length gotten all the drafts and documents before him, he was pleased to appoint another day for pronouncing sentence; and when it came, and he again saw the documents before him, he ordered the whole of them to be thrown into the fire, and at the same time he spake thus: — “My friends, this law-suit has lasted a very long time, and you have put yourselves to a mighty deal of trouble and expense. For my part, I do not wish to protract this suit; and I shall at once pronounce the verdict, that “he who first happens to waken shall first ring the bell!”

“And you, my Lord Conde Lucanor, I would advise, that if the matter be advantageous for you, 18 and you shall be able to effect it, you proceed to do it, and that without delay. For many times things are left unaccomplished, and lost, which might have been carried to a good issue, only because of the delay; and afterwards when a man wishes it, he perhaps cannot do them.” And the Conde considered that he had been well advised, and he did accordingly, and it turned out well. And Don Juan, judging that the example was good, made the two following verses, namely; —

“If any great good you are able to do,
Be quick, nor delay, lest the chance should eschew.”




ANOTHER time the Conde Lucanor was talking with his counsellor Patronio, and said in this manner. “Patronio, according to my reckoning, I have a great many friends, who give me to understand, that, at the cost of their lives and substance, they would not fail to do every thing to oblige me, and would not desert me for any chance that could befall. And now, according to your good judgment, I intreat that you will tell me in what manner I shall 19 best be able to learn whether these friends would do for me as much as they say they would?” “My Lord Conde Lucanor,” replied Patronio, “good friends are the best thing in the world; and you may well believe, that when a man most wants them, he will find fewer than he counted upon: and that, on the contrary, when the urgency is not great, it is difficult to prove who would shew himself a true friend, were the time of need to arrive. However, that you may know what a true friend is, it will give me pleasure to acquaint you with what happened to a certain man in regard to one of his sons, who said that he had many friends.” And the Conde inquired how that had taken place.



“My Lord Conde Lucanor,” said Patronio, “ a certain good man had a son; and among other matters which he advised, he enjoined him always to endeavour to obtain a great number of friends; and the son did as he was told. He began to keep much company, and to share his substance among different individuals whom he esteemed as his friends, and ready to do any thing in their power to pleasure him; — nay, insomuch as to venture their lives and substance, if need be, in his behalf. And one day this young man, conversing with his father, was asked whether he had done as he had been 20 commanded, and had yet obtained many friends? And the son replied that he had; and in particular, that among others, there were ten of whom he was most assured, that never in any difficulty or necessity whatever would they be led to desert him. When the father heard this, he said he was greatly surprised that his son had been able in so short a time to obtain so many friends; and such as he, who was an old man, had never been fortunate enough to possess more than one friend and a half. And the son began to argue with him, maintaining that what he had said of his friends was only the truth.

“When the father saw that his son was so eager on their behalf, he said that he ought to proceed to prove it in the following manner. First, that he should kill a pig, and having put it into a sack, should go with it to the house of one of this friends, and when admitted there, tell him secretly, — not that it was a pig, but a man whom he had unhappily killed. Farther, that if this fact should be made known, it would be quite impossible for him to escape with his life; and that all those who knew of it would be likely to share with him in the same fate. That his son should enjoin them, since they were his friends, not to reveal the fact; and that if need by, they should unite with him and defend him. And the youth did this: going to the house of his 20 friends, he informed them of the fatal accident that had befallen him. They all, one after another, declared, that in all other matters they would serve him to the utmost, but that on such an occasion, which would endanger both their lives and property, they dare not assist him; beseeching him, at the same time, for the love of God, not to breathe to a single being that he had been at their houses. Some of them, indeed, said that they would go to solicit on his behalf; and others observed that they would do so much, and moreover, would not desert him even till after his execution, and that they would then give him honourable interment.

“And after the youth had thus tried the sincerity of all his friends, without finding any to receive him, he returned to his father, and related what had happened. And when the father saw that it so fell out, he said to his son, that he might now very well see how those who had lived long, and seen and experienced much in such a matter, knew more than their sons. He then added, that he himself had only one friend and a half, and that he might go and try them.

“The young man went accordingly to prove what his father had meant by half a friend, and he took the dead pig along with him. He called at the door of his father’s half friend, and recounted to him first the unlucky adventure which had befallen him; 22 that he had spoken with all his friends in vain, and beseeched him, by the regard he bore his father, to assist him now in this his utter need.

“And when his father’s half friend saw this, he said that he had a regard for the father, but had no sort of love for or acquaintance with the son; but that for his father’s sake, he was willing to assist him and to conceal the affair. He then took the sack with the pig, and carried it into his orchard, where he deposited it in a deep furrow, and covered the spot with weeds and vegetables to conceal it from every eye.

“The youth then returned and acquainted his father with what had occurred in regard to this his half friend. He next ordered his son, on a certain day, when they should all be engaged in council, to start some question, and discuss it with this same friend very warmly, till at length he should deal him a hard blow in the face, which, when the opportunity served, was accordingly done. But the good man, on being smitten, only said, ‘By my faith, young man, thou hast done ill; yet thou may’st be assured, that neither for this or other injury thou can’st do, will I reveal what happened in the garden.’ The son afterwards reported this to his father, who then told him to go to the house of his other friend, and he did so. And again he recounted all that had happened; and the good friend of his father directly 23 said, that he would do all to save his life and his reputation. And it by chance happened that a man had been killed in that town, and none knew by whom; but several people having noticed the youth going along a night with the sack upon his shoulders, they concluded that he was no other than the murderer. In short, they informed of him, and the youth was taken and pronounced guilty of the offence; but his father’s friend all the while exerted himself to compass his escape. And when he saw hat the was no way left to save him from death, he said to the Alcade, that he did not wish to have the sin of killing that young man upon his conscience, for, in fact, it was not he who had killed the man, but a son of his own, and the only one he had; and in this way did he succeed in saving the life of his friend’s son, by the hard sacrifice of his own.

“And now, my Lord Count Lucanor, I have told you how friends are to be tried, and I hold that this example is good, in order for a man to learn who are his friends in this world, and those whom he ought to put to the test before he trusts to them in any great exigency, so as to ascertain how far they would go along with him in a dangerous way. You may be certain, that if some few be good friends, yet the most part are fortune’s friends, and according to their shifts and turns will they stick close or abandon you. And if you consider of this in a spiritual sense, 20 every body declares that he has friends, but when calamity or death approach, they too often find themselves driven to have recourse to the ministers of religion to intercede with God for them, who alone can help them, to whom they turn like the son of the good man. and such is the great goodness of the Saints, in particular of the Holy Mary, that they cease not to importune the Lord in a poor sinner’s favour; and however much the importunity and the trouble they bear on his account, they refuse to inflict justice on him, just as the half friend of the young man’s father wound not inform of him though smitten by him in the face. And when the sinner finds no means of escape but turning to God, as the young man returned to his father, then does God, like the father and true friend, pitying man, who is his creature, act by him as did the good friend, for he even sent his won son Jesus Christ, who died for us without any fault, and whose freedom from all sin delivered man also from his state of sin, shewing thereby that he was the true son of God, obedient and faithful, and full of love and mercy in all his acts.

“And now, Señor Count Lucanor, consider well what kind of friends be the most faithful and the best, and for whom ought a man most to exert himself in order to obtain their friendship.” These reasons gave much satisfaction to the Count, and Don Juan being 25 of opinion that this example was very excellent, caused it to be inserted in this book, and he also made these verses, to the following purport: — which, being translated, were

Man ne’er shall find so true a friend as he
Who gave his life, man’s race from death to free.




ONE day the Conde Lucanor, speaking with his counsellor Patronio, said, “Patronio, I have a servant who informs me that he has it in his power to marry a very wealthy woman, but who is higher in station than himself. It would, he says, be a very advantageous match for him, only for one difficulty which stands in the way, and it is this. He has is on good authority, that this woman is one of the most violent and wilful creatures in the world; and now I ask for your counsel, whether I ought to direct him to marry this woman, knowing what her character is, or advise him to give up the match?” “My Lord Conde Lucanor,” said Patronio, “if your man hath any resemblance to the son of a certain good man, who was a Moor, I advise him to marry at all venture, but if he be not life him, I think he had better desist.”26 And the Conde then enquired how that affair had been.



Patronio said, that “In a certain town there lived a noble Moor, who had but one son, the best young man ever known perhaps in the world. H was not, however, wealthy enough to enable him to accomplish half the many laudable objects which his heart prompted him to undertake, and for this reason he was in great perplexity, having the will and not the power to perform it.

“Now in that same town there dwelt another Moor, far more honoured and rich than the youth’s father; and he, too, had an only daughter, who offered a strange contrast to this excellent young man; her manners being as violent and bad as his were good and pleasing, insomuch that no man liked to think of an union with such an infuriate shrew.

“Now that good youth one day came to his father and said, ‘Father, I am well assured that you are not rich enough to support me according to what I conceive becoming and honourable. It will, therefore, be incumbent upon me to lead a mean and indolent life, or to quit the country; so that if it seem good unto you, I should prefer for he best to form some marriage alliance by which I may be enabled to open myself a way to higher things.’ And the father replied, that it would please him well if 27 his son should be enabled to marry according to his wishes. He then said to his father, that if he thought he should be able to manage it, he should be happy to have the only daughter of the good man given him in marriage. Hearing this, the father was much surprised, and answered, that as he understood he matter, there was not a single man whom he knew, how poor soever he might be, who would consent to marry such a vixen. And his son replied, that he asked it as a particular favour that he would bring about this marriage; and so far insisted, that, however strange he thought the request, his father gave his consent.

“In consequence of this, he went directly to seek the good man, with whom he was on the most friendly terms, and having acquainted him with all that had passed, begged that he would be pleased to bestow his daughter’s hand upon his son, who had courage enough to marry her. Now, when the good man heard this proposal from the lips of his best friend, he said to him: — ‘Good God, my friend, if I were to do any such thing, I should serve you a very bad turn; for you possess an excellent son, and it would be a great piece of treachery on my part, if I were to consent to make him so unfortunate, and become accessory to his death by marrying such a woman. Nay, I may say worse than death, for better would it be for him to be dead than to be married to my daughter! and you must not think that I say thus 28 much to oppose your wishes; of as to that matter, I should be well-pleased to give her to your son, or to anybody’s son, who would be foolish enough to rid my house of her.’ To this his friend replied, that he felt very sensibly the kind motives which led to speak thus; and yet entreated that, as his son seemed so bent upon the match, he would be pleased to give the lady in marriage. He agreed, and accordingly the ceremony took place. The bride was brought to her husband’s house, and it being a custom with the Moors to give the betrothed a supper, and to set out the feast for them, and then to take leave and return to visit them on the ensuing day, the ceremony was performed accordingly. However, the fathers and mothers, and all the relations of the bride and bridegroom went away with many misgivings, fearing that when they returned the ensuing day, they should either find the young man dead, or in some very bad plight indeed. So it came to pass, that as soon as the young people were left alone, they seated themselves at the table, and before the dreaded bride had time to open her lips, the bridegroom, looking behind him, saw stationed there his favourite mastiff dog, and he said to him somewhat sharply: — ‘Mr. Mastiff, bring us some water for our hands:’ and the dog stood still, and did not do it. His master then repeated the order more fiercely, but the dog stood still as before. His master then leaped up 29 in a great passion from the table, and, seizing his sword, ran towards the mastiff, who, seeing him coming, ran away, leaping over the chairs and tables, and fire-place, trying every place to make his escape, with the bridegroom hard in pursuit of him. At length, reaching the dog, he smote off his head with his sword; he then hewed off his legs, and cut up all his body, until the whole place was covered with blood. He then resumed his place at table, all covered as he was with gore; and soon casting his eyes around, he beheld a lap-dog, and commanded him to bring him water for his hands, and because he was not obeyed, he said: ‘How, false traitor! see you not the fate of the mastiff, because he would not do as I command him? I vow that if you offer to contend one moment with me, I will treat thee to the same fate as I did the mastiff. And when he found it was not done, he arose, seized him by the legs, and dashing him against the wall, actually beat his brains out; showing even more rage than against the poor mastiff.

Then, in a great passion, he returned to the table, and cast his eyes about on all sides, while his bride, fearful that he had taken leave of his senses, ventured not to utter a word. At length he fixed his eyes upon his horse, that was standing before the door, though he had only that one belonging to him; and he commanded him to bring him water, which the horse did not do. ‘How now, Mr. Horse.’ cried the 30 husband, ‘do you imagine because I have only you, that I shall suffer you to live, and not do as I command you? No! I will inflict as hard a death upon you as upon the others; yea, there is no living thing I have in the world, which I will spare, if I am not to be obeyed!’ But the horse stood where he was, and the master, approaching him with the greatest rage, smote off his head, and cut him in pieces, in the same way, with his sword. Well! And when his wife saw that he had actually killed his horse, having no other, and now heard him declare that he would do the same to any creature that ventured to disobey him, she found that he had by no means done it by way of jest, and took such an alarm, that she hardly knew whether she were dead or alive. Then, all covered with gore as he was, he again seated himself at table, swearing that though he had a thousand horses, or wives, or servants, if they refused to do his behest he would not scruple to kill them all, and he once more began to look around him, with his sword in his hand. And after he had looked well round him, and found no other living thing near him, he turned his eyes fiercely upon his wife, and said in a great passion, ‘Get up, and bring me some water to wash my hands;’ and his wife, expecting nothing less than to be cut to pieces, rose in a great hurry, and giving him water for his hands, said to him, — ‘Ah, how I ought to return thanks to God, who 25 inspired you with the thought of doing as you have just done! for, otherwise, owing to the wrong treatment of my foolish friends, I should have behaved in the same way to you as I did to them.’

“After this he commanded her to help him to something to eat, and this in such a tone, that she felt as if her head were on the point of drooping off the floor; so that there was a perfect understanding settles between them during the night; and she never spoke, but only did every thing which he required her to do. After they had reposed some time, the husband said, — ‘The passion I have been put into this night has hindered me from sleeping; get you up, and see that nobody comes to disturb me, and prepare me something well cooked to eat!’

“When it came full day, and the fathers, mothers, and other relatives arrived at the door, they all listened; and hearing no one speak, at first concluded that the unfortunate man was either dead or mortally wounded by his ferocious bride. In this they were the ore confirmed, when they saw her standing at the door and the bridegroom not there. But when the lady saw them advancing, she stepped gently on tip-toe towards them, and whispered, ‘False friends, as you are, how dared you to come up to the door in that way, or even to breathe a word? Be silent, as you value your lives or mine; — hist, and awake him not.’


“Now when they were all made acquainted with what she said, they greatly marvelled at it; but when they learnt all that had passed during the night, their wonder was changed into admiration of the young man, for having so well known how to manage what concerned him, and to maintain order in his house. From that day forth, so excellently was his wife governed, and so well conditioned in every respect, that they led a very pleasant sort of life together. Such indeed was the good example set by the son-in-law, that a few days afterwards, the father-in-law, desirous of the same happy change in his household, also killed a horse; but his wife only observed to him, ‘By my faith, Don Foolano, you have thought of this plan somewhat too late in the day; we are now too well acquainted with each other.’

“And you, my Lord Conde Lucanor, if that servant of yours wish to marry such a woman, and hath as great a heart as this youth, in God’s name, advise him to take her, for he will surely know how to manage in his house. But should he be of another kidney, and not so well know what is most befitting, then let him forgo it, or run a bad chance. And I do further advise you, with whatever manner of men you have to do, you always give them well to understand on what footing they are to stand with you.” And the Conde held this for a good example; made 33 it as it is, and it was esteemed good. Also, because Don Juan found it a good example, he ordered it to be written in this book, and made these verses, which follow it: —

If at first you don’t shew yourself just what you are,
When you afterwards wish it, your fortune ’twill mar.




ON another occasion, Count Lucanor, talking to his counsellor Patronio, said in this manner: — “Patronio! I, and a number of other people, being engaged in conversing together, the question was asked, in what way could a bad man contrive to do most mischief in the world, not only to one, but to every body? To which some replied, that it could but be done by turning rebel and traitor, — others, by a man becoming a constant evil doer, — and a third part, by his evil speaking and robbing men, not merely of their property, but of their good name. Now, as a man of understanding, I ask of you to inform me as to which of these evil courses would most likely produce greater mischief to other people.” “Señor Conde,” replied Patronio, “in order to shew you thus much, I would that you were informed of 34 that which happened to the Devil with regard to a strange, wicked woman of these parts.” The Count then enquired how that might have come to pass?



“Señor Conde,” said Patronio, “in a certain village there lived a very good kind of man, who had a wife; and these two were for the once so well assorted, that never had there arisen between them the least difference. But as you know that this same Devil ever feels a cruel despite on beholding good things, or things going on at all well, he felt no little chagrin, and spent much time in trying every device he could to put them by the ears together; — yet he could not succeed; and one day, returned very melancholy from their house, after another, and another failure, he fell in with a wicked strange woman. After saluting each other, she enquired of the Devil as to what had made him look so sad, and he acquainted her with the cause, — the length of time, and the number of attempts, all directed to make discord between this man and woman, and to no end; — for which reason he might, he said, well look serious and unhappy. The strange woman expressed her surprise at this; but told him, if he would agree to follow her advice, she would soon put him on the right scent, so as to succeed to his heart’s wish. To which the Devil made answer, he would 34 do every thing which she would please to enjoin him in that particular, so he could only see that happy man and his wife fairly embroiled and angry with each other.

“Having agreed to effect this, the strange woman set out towards the place where this contented couple abode. And by degrees she got acquainted with the good wife; and most, by telling her that she had once been servant to her mother, for which reason she felt bound to do for her also every service which she had in her power. Lending ear to all this, the wife took her into the house, entrusted her with all her concerns, as likewise did the husband. Well! and after having remained with them some time on this confidential footing, she one day came with a very long, sad countenance, and thus accosted the good wife; — ‘It vexes me much to see, my daughter, that your husband rejoices himself more in the company of other woman than in your own; and methinks it might be well so to honour and humour him as to lead him to change his mind in this respect, lest some evil greater than any other should happen to arise therefrom between you.’

“When the honest creature had heard these words, albeit she gave not full credence to them; she felt uneasy and disturbed. On seeing how unhappy she looked, the vile wretch, instead of feeling compassion, forthwith hastened to the place where she knew 36 her husband would be sure to pass by, and accosting him as he came, she said that she wondered how, having so good a wife, he should have set his affections on any other woman, — a fact which had come to his wife’s ears; who seeing to bad a return for all her services, had resolved to listen to the love of another man, who would perhaps give her better treatment than he had done. She then entreated of him not to betray this information to his wife, or she herself would else be a dead woman. The poor man could hardly believe his own ears when this information reached him; and though he would not give credit to it, nevertheless he felt suspicious and unhappy, just as the good wife had done. Leaving him thus, the evil creature returned to the wife, and said to her, with a look of great concern, ‘My daughter, I know not what misfortune hath happened, but your husband seems strangely incensed against you; and that you will soon know, by the manner in which even now he seems to be approaching us. His looks are strangely angry, such as he is not wont to shew.’ And having said these words she left her. The husband on entering the house, and finding his partner looking so strange at him, and so miserable, with none of the comforts they had been used to enjoy together, he felt so grieved and shocked that he quickly took himself out of the house again.

“It was thus that this false, strange woman began 37 to redouble her arts, hinting to her, that it would be well to seek out some wise man or other, who knew how to cure such evil inclination of men, as had got possession of her husband’s mind. To this the unhappy wife consented. The false friend went on the search; and at the end of some days she returned, saying that she had at last found such a wise man, very learned in his art. He had told her, said she, that if the wife would cut off a lock of her husband’s hair, and pluck out some of his beard, he could mix them together so as to produce a kind of spell, which would irresistibly act upon him, and in such a manner as to restore him completely to his former love and confidence, and perhaps make them lead a happier life than they had ever done before. For this purpose she had brought the good wife a razor, with which, when the hour came when her husband should be fast asleep, she might cut off his hair, and prepare means for administering the charm. To all this the good woman consented, out of pure regard for her husband, and the desire she felt to do away with the strange, cold looks, with which he had lately regarded her. So, wishing to lead the same quiet life she had formerly done, she took the razor from the hand of that false friend, while the later again went to the husband, and declared that she had brought him some very unwelcome news — such as she could no longer conceal, out of 34 regard to him — no less indeed than what concerned his life, which his wife was preparing to take away by violence; and then to flee with her friend and paramour. The manner of doing this would be by throwing him into a deep slumber, and then to come secretly upon him, and cut off his head with a sharp razor. What was the strange horror and affright of the good husband on hearing these tidings, false as was the fearful wretch that had uttered them. Cautious, and full of care, he bent his steps towards his own house, where his wife received him with more good will and affection than she had latterly shewn, and said to him, as he looked ill and wearied, he would do well to retire early to rest, and to take a warm drink to compose him — and which she very earnestly insisted upon his doing. The good man no longer doubted but that what he had been told by the false friend was true, and to try the truth of it he went, and soon feigned himself to be asleep. While in this condition, his wife cautiously approached the chamber, intending to cut off a lock of his hair and whiskers according to the plan agreed upon with that strange wicked woman.

When the husband saw her with razor in hand approach near, open it, and bending over him, prepare, as he thought, to cut his throat, seizing her arm he wrenched the weapon from her grasp, and in the madness of the moment, directing it against the 39 supposed murderess, he nearly separated her head from her body. At the terrific noise thus occasioned, the father and brothers of the wretched wife, who lived at hand, being apprized of it, ran wildly to the spot; and seeing their relation all weltering in her blood, and never having heard the least evil thing in regard to her, they all fell suddenly upon the distracted husband and slew him. This last act, coming likewise to the knowledge of the poor man’s friends and relations, they ran in a body, and attacking those of the wife, killed and wounded many of them, till the quarrel gaining a head on all sides, the larger part of the population of the village took it up, and were that day slain. Now the whole of this dreadful scene arose merely from the false and wicked words of that strange woman. but as the just God never permits that wicked actions should be wrought by men without their paying the penalty due to their several crimes, and making them manifest to the world, so it became known that this dreadful even was wholly owing to the malice of that wicked woman, instigated by the Devil, and upon whom the Divine judgment fell heavily; inasmuch as she was put to a shameful and cruel end.

“And you, my Lord Count Lucanor, if you wish to learn who among all is the worst of men, and from what cause proceeds the greatest mischief among people, it is from the man who, under the mask of 40 a good Christian and a loyal friend, conceals evil designs, and disseminates lies and falsehoods that injure and embroil others. I would therefore counsel you to be on your guard against men who assume the semblance of religion, who are ever intent upon some deceitful end; and for this reason take you the advice of Scripture, which says, that ‘from their fruits you shall know them, and their works will speak for them;’ for be assured there exists not any who can long conceal the nature of the works which it is His will to perform.” The Count agreed in the truth of what Patronio said, and made a resolution to do as he was advised, praying that God would protect him and all his friends from every such a man. Finding, moreover, that this example was excellently good, Don Juan Manuel caused it to be written in this book, and made upon it the verses which are to this purport:

“If you would ’scape the false and secret snare,
Heed not the looks; heed what man’s works declare!”


*  From the The Spanish Novelists: A Series of Tales, Vol. I; by Thomas Roscoe; Richard Bentley; London; 1832; pp. 12-40.
The only complete translation of Count Lucanor; or The Fifty Pleasant Stories of Patronio, written by the Prince Don Juan Manuel, first done into English by James York, M. D., in 1899, is on Elfinspell, and it is delightful: go here.

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