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Don Quixote
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Cide Hamete Benengeli, the Arab and Manchegan author, relates in this most grave, high-sounding, minute, delightful, and original history that after the discussion between the famous Don Quixote of La Mancha and his squire Sancho Panza which is set down at the end of chapter twenty-one, Don Quixote raised his eyes and saw coming along the road he was following some dozen men on foot strung together by the neck, like beads, on a great iron chain, and all with manacles on their hands. With them there came also two men on horseback and two on foot; those on horseback with wheel-lock muskets, those on foot with javelins and swords, and as soon as Sancho saw them he said:

"That is a chain of galley slaves, on the way to the galleys by force of the king's orders."

"How by force?" asked Don Quixote; "is it possible that the king uses force against anyone?"

"I do not say that," answered Sancho, "but that these are people condemned for their crimes to serve by force in the king's galleys."

"In fact," replied Don Quixote, "however it may be, these people are going where they are taking them by force, and not of their own will."

"Just so," said Sancho.

"Then if so," said Don Quixote, "here is a case for the exercise of my office, to put down force and to succour and help the wretched."

"Recollect, your worship," said Sancho, "Justice, which is the king himself, is not using force or doing wrong to such persons, but punishing them for their crimes."

The chain of galley slaves had by this time come up, and Don Quixote in very courteous language asked those who were in custody of it to be good enough to tell him the reason or reasons for which they were conducting these people in this manner. One of the guards on horseback answered that they were galley slaves belonging to his majesty, that they were going to the galleys, and that was all that was to be said and all he had any business to know.

"Nevertheless," replied Don Quixote, "I should like to know from each of them separately the reason of his misfortune;" to this he added more to the same effect to induce them to tell him what he wanted so civilly that the other mounted guard said to him:

"Though we have here the register and certificate of the sentence of every one of these wretches, this is no time to take them out or read them; come and ask themselves; they can tell if they choose, and they will, for these fellows take a pleasure in doing and talking about rascalities."

With this permission, which Don Quixote would have taken even had they not granted it, he approached the chain and asked the first for what offences he was now in such a sorry case.

He made answer that it was for being a lover.

"For that only?" replied Don Quixote; "why, if for being lovers they send people to the galleys I might have been rowing in them long ago."

"The love is not the sort your worship is thinking of," said the galley slave; "mine was that I loved a washerwoman's basket of clean linen so well, and held it so close in my embrace, that if the arm of the law had not forced it from me, I should never have let it go of my own will to this moment; I was caught in the act, there was no occasion for torture, the case was settled, they treated me to a hundred lashes on the back, and three years of gurapas besides, and that was the end of it."

"What are gurapas?" asked Don Quixote.

"Gurapas are galleys," answered the galley slave, who was a young man of about four-and-twenty, and said he was a native of Piedrahita.

Don Quixote asked the same question of the second, who made no reply, so downcast and melancholy was he; but the first answered for him, and said, "He, sir, goes as a canary, I mean as a musician and a singer."

"What!" said Don Quixote, "for being musicians and singers are people sent to the galleys too?"

"Yes, sir," answered the galley slave, "for there is nothing worse than singing under suffering."

"On the contrary, I have heard say," said Don Quixote, "that he who sings scares away his woes."

"Here it is the reverse," said the galley slave; "for he who sings once weeps all his life."

"I do not understand it," said Don Quixote; but one of the guards said to him, "Sir, to sing under suffering means with the non sancta fraternity to confess under torture; they put this sinner to the torture and he confessed his crime, which was being a cuatrero, that is a cattle-stealer, and on his confession they sentenced him to six years in the galleys, besides two hundred lashes that he has already had on the back; and he is always dejected and downcast because the other thieves that were left behind and that march here ill-treat, and snub, and jeer, and despise him for confessing and not having spirit enough to say nay; for, say they, 'nay' has no more letters in it than 'yea,' and a culprit is well off when life or death with him depends on his own tongue and not on that of witnesses or evidence; and to my thinking they are not very far out."

"And I think so too," answered Don Quixote; then passing on to the third he asked him what he had asked the others, and the man answered very readily and unconcernedly, "I am going for five years to their ladyships the gurapas for the want of ten ducats."

"I will give twenty with pleasure to get you out of that trouble," said Don Quixote.

"That," said the galley slave, "is like a man having money at sea when he is dying of hunger and has no way of buying what he wants; I say so because if at the right time I had had those twenty ducats that your worship now offers me, I would have greased the notary's pen and freshened up the attorney's wit with them, so that to-day I should be in the middle of the plaza of the Zocodover at Toledo, and not on this road coupled like a greyhound. But God is great; patience--there, that's enough of it."

Don Quixote passed on to the fourth, a man of venerable aspect with a white beard falling below his breast, who on hearing himself asked the reason of his being there began to weep without answering a word, but the fifth acted as his tongue and said, "This worthy man is going to the galleys for four years, after having gone the rounds in ceremony and on horseback."

"That means," said Sancho Panza, "as I take it, to have been exposed to shame in public."

"Just so," replied the galley slave, "and the offence for which they gave him that punishment was having been an ear-broker, nay body-broker; I mean, in short, that this gentleman goes as a pimp, and for having besides a certain touch of the sorcerer about him."

"If that touch had not been thrown in," said Don Quixote, "be would not deserve, for mere pimping, to row in the galleys, but rather to command and be admiral of them; for the office of pimp is no ordinary one, being the office of persons of discretion, one very necessary in a well-ordered state, and only to be exercised by persons of good birth; nay, there ought to be an inspector and overseer of them, as in other offices, and recognised number, as with the brokers on change; in this way many of the evils would be avoided which are caused by this office and calling being in the hands of stupid and ignorant people, such as women more or less silly, and pages and jesters of little standing and experience, who on the most urgent occasions, and when ingenuity of contrivance is needed, let the crumbs freeze on the way to their mouths, and know not which is their right hand. I should like to go farther, and give reasons to show that it is advisable to choose those who are to hold so necessary an office in the state, but this is not the fit place for it; some day I will expound the matter to some one able to see to and rectify it; all I say now is, that the additional fact of his being a sorcerer has removed the sorrow it gave me to see these white hairs and this venerable countenance in so painful a position on account of his being a pimp; though I know well there are no sorceries in the world that can move or compel the will as some simple folk fancy, for our will is free, nor is there herb or charm that can force it. All that certain silly women and quacks do is to turn men mad with potions and poisons, pretending that they have power to cause love, for, as I say, it is an impossibility to compel the will."

"It is true," said the good old man, "and indeed, sir, as far as the charge of sorcery goes I was not guilty; as to that of being a pimp I cannot deny it; but I never thought I was doing any harm by it, for my only object was that all the world should enjoy itself and live in peace and quiet, without quarrels or troubles; but my good intentions were unavailing to save me from going where I never expect to come back from, with this weight of years upon me and a urinary ailment that never gives me a moment's ease;" and again he fell to weeping as before, and such compassion did Sancho feel for him that he took out a real of four from his bosom and gave it to him in alms.

Don Quixote went on and asked another what his crime was, and the man answered with no less but rather much more sprightliness than the last one.

"I am here because I carried the joke too far with a couple of cousins of mine, and with a couple of other cousins who were none of mine; in short, I carried the joke so far with them all that it ended in such a complicated increase of kindred that no accountant could make it clear: it was all proved against me, I got no favour, I had no money, I was near having my neck stretched, they sentenced me to the galleys for six years, I accepted my fate, it is the punishment of my fault; I am a young man; let life only last, and with that all will come right. If you, sir, have anything wherewith to help the poor, God will repay it to you in heaven, and we on earth will take care in our petitions to him to pray for the life and health of your worship, that they may be as long and as good as your amiable appearance deserves."

This one was in the dress of a student, and one of the guards said he was a great talker and a very elegant Latin scholar.

Behind all these there came a man of thirty, a very personable fellow, except that when he looked, his eyes turned in a little one towards the other. He was bound differently from the rest, for he had to his leg a chain so long that it was wound all round his body, and two rings on his neck, one attached to the chain, the other to what they call a "keep-friend" or "friend's foot," from which hung two irons reaching to his waist with two manacles fixed to them in which his hands were secured by a big padlock, so that he could neither raise his hands to his mouth nor lower his head to his hands. Don Quixote asked why this man carried so many more chains than the others. The guard replied that it was because he alone had committed more crimes than all the rest put together, and was so daring and such a villain, that though they marched him in that fashion they did not feel sure of him, but were in dread of his making his escape.

"What crimes can he have committed," said Don Quixote, "if they have not deserved a heavier punishment than being sent to the galleys?"

"He goes for ten years," replied the guard, "which is the same thing as civil death, and all that need be said is that this good fellow is the famous Gines de Pasamonte, otherwise called Ginesillo de Parapilla."

"Gently, senor commissary," said the galley slave at this, "let us have no fixing of names or surnames; my name is Gines, not Ginesillo, and my family name is Pasamonte, not Parapilla as you say; let each one mind his own business, and he will be doing enough."

"Speak with less impertinence, master thief of extra measure," replied the commissary, "if you don't want me to make you hold your tongue in spite of your teeth."

"It is easy to see," returned the galley slave, "that man goes as God pleases, but some one shall know some day whether I am called Ginesillo de Parapilla or not."

"Don't they call you so, you liar?" said the guard.

"They do," returned Gines, "but I will make them give over calling me so, or I will be shaved, where, I only say behind my teeth. If you, sir, have anything to give us, give it to us at once, and God speed you, for you are becoming tiresome with all this inquisitiveness about the lives of others; if you want to know about mine, let me tell you I am Gines de Pasamonte, whose life is written by these fingers."

"He says true," said the commissary, "for he has himself written his story as grand as you please, and has left the book in the prison in pawn for two hundred reals."

"And I mean to take it out of pawn," said Gines, "though it were in for two hundred ducats."

"Is it so good?" said Don Quixote.

"So good is it," replied Gines, "that a fig for 'Lazarillo de Tormes,' and all of that kind that have been written, or shall be written compared with it: all I will say about it is that it deals with facts, and facts so neat and diverting that no lies could match them."

"And how is the book entitled?" asked Don Quixote.

"The ']Life of Gines de Pasamonte],'" replied the subject of it.

"And is it finished?" asked Don Quixote.

"How can it be finished," said the other, "when my life is not yet finished? All that is written is from my birth down to the point when they sent me to the galleys this last time."

"Then you have been there before?" said Don Quixote.

"In the service of God and the king I have been there for four years before now, and I know by this time what the biscuit and courbash are like," replied Gines; "and it is no great grievance to me to go back to them, for there I shall have time to finish my book; I have still many things left to say, and in the galleys of Spain there is more than enough leisure; though I do not want much for what I have to write, for I have it by heart."

"You seem a clever fellow," said Don Quixote.

"And an unfortunate one," replied Gines, "for misfortune always persecutes good wit."

"It persecutes rogues," said the commissary.

"I told you already to go gently, master commissary," said Pasamonte; "their lordships yonder never gave you that staff to ill-treat us wretches here, but to conduct and take us where his majesty orders you; if not, by the life of-never mind-; it may be that some day the stains made in the inn will come out in the scouring; let everyone hold his tongue and behave well and speak better; and now let us march on, for we have had quite enough of this entertainment."

The commissary lifted his staff to strike Pasamonte in return for his threats, but Don Quixote came between them, and begged him not to ill-use him, as it was not too much to allow one who had his hands tied to have his tongue a trifle free; and turning to the whole chain of them he said:

"From all you have told me, dear brethren, make out clearly that though they have punished you for your faults, the punishments you are about to endure do not give you much pleasure, and that you go to them very much against the grain and against your will, and that perhaps this one's want of courage under torture, that one's want of money, the other's want of advocacy, and lastly the perverted judgment of the judge may have been the cause of your ruin and of your failure to obtain the justice you had on your side. All which presents itself now to my mind, urging, persuading, and even compelling me to demonstrate in your case the purpose for which Heaven sent me into the world and caused me to make profession of the order of chivalry to which I belong, and the vow I took therein to give aid to those in need and under the oppression of the strong. But as I know that it is a mark of prudence not to do by foul means what may be done by fair, I will ask these gentlemen, the guards and commissary, to be so good as to release you and let you go in peace, as there will be no lack of others to serve the king under more favourable circumstances; for it seems to me a hard case to make slaves of those whom God and nature have made free. Moreover, sirs of the guard," added Don Quixote, "these poor fellows have done nothing to you; let each answer for his own sins yonder; there is a God in Heaven who will not forget to punish the wicked or reward the good; and it is not fitting that honest men should be the instruments of punishment to others, they being therein no way concerned. This request I make thus gently and quietly, that, if you comply with it, I may have reason for thanking you; and, if you will not voluntarily, this lance and sword together with the might of my arm shall compel you to comply with it by force."

"Nice nonsense!" said the commissary; "a fine piece of pleasantry he has come out with at last! He wants us to let the king's prisoners go, as if we had any authority to release them, or he to order us to do so! Go your way, sir, and good luck to you; put that basin straight that you've got on your head, and don't go looking for three feet on a cat."

'Tis you that are the cat, rat, and rascal," replied Don Quixote, and acting on the word he fell upon him so suddenly that without giving him time to defend himself he brought him to the ground sorely wounded with a lance-thrust; and lucky it was for him that it was the one that had the musket. The other guards stood thunderstruck and amazed at this unexpected event, but recovering presence of mind, those on horseback seized their swords, and those on foot their javelins, and attacked Don Quixote, who was waiting for them with great calmness; and no doubt it would have gone badly with him if the galley slaves, seeing the chance before them of liberating themselves, had not effected it by contriving to break the chain on which they were strung. Such was the confusion, that the guards, now rushing at the galley slaves who were breaking loose, now to attack Don Quixote who was waiting for them, did nothing at all that was of any use. Sancho, on his part, gave a helping hand to release Gines de Pasamonte, who was the first to leap forth upon the plain free and unfettered, and who, attacking the prostrate commissary, took from him his sword and the musket, with which, aiming at one and levelling at another, he, without ever discharging it, drove every one of the guards off the field, for they took to flight, as well to escape Pasamonte's musket, as the showers of stones the now released galley slaves were raining upon them. Sancho was greatly grieved at the affair, because he anticipated that those who had fled would report the matter to the Holy Brotherhood, who at the summons of the alarm-bell would at once sally forth in quest of the offenders; and he said so to his master, and entreated him to leave the place at once, and go into hiding in the sierra that was close by.

"That is all very well," said Don Quixote, "but I know what must be done now;" and calling together all the galley slaves, who were now running riot, and had stripped the commissary to the skin, he collected them round him to hear what he had to say, and addressed them as follows: "To be grateful for benefits received is the part of persons of good birth, and one of the sins most offensive to God is ingratitude; I say so because, sirs, ye have already seen by manifest proof the benefit ye have received of me; in return for which I desire, and it is my good pleasure that, laden with that chain which I have taken off your necks, ye at once set out and proceed to the city of El Toboso, and there present yourselves before the lady Dulcinea del Toboso, and say to her that her knight, he of the Rueful Countenance, sends to commend himself to her; and that ye recount to her in full detail all the particulars of this notable adventure, up to the recovery of your longed-for liberty; and this done ye may go where ye will, and good fortune attend you."

Gines de Pasamonte made answer for all, saying, "That which you, sir, our deliverer, demand of us, is of all impossibilities the most impossible to comply with, because we cannot go together along the roads, but only singly and separate, and each one his own way, endeavouring to hide ourselves in the bowels of the earth to escape the Holy Brotherhood, which, no doubt, will come out in search of us. What your worship may do, and fairly do, is to change this service and tribute as regards the lady Dulcinea del Toboso for a certain quantity of ave-marias and credos which we will say for your worship's intention, and this is a condition that can be complied with by night as by day, running or resting, in peace or in war; but to imagine that we are going now to return to the flesh-pots of Egypt, I mean to take up our chain and set out for El Toboso, is to imagine that it is now night, though it is not yet ten in the morning, and to ask this of us is like asking pears of the elm tree."

"Then by all that's good," said Don Quixote (now stirred to wrath), "Don son of a bitch, Don Ginesillo de Paropillo, or whatever your name is, you will have to go yourself alone, with your tail between your legs and the whole chain on your back."

Pasamonte, who was anything but meek (being by this time thoroughly convinced that Don Quixote was not quite right in his head as he had committed such a vagary as to set them free), finding himself abused in this fashion, gave the wink to his companions, and falling back they began to shower stones on Don Quixote at such a rate that he was quite unable to protect himself with his buckler, and poor Rocinante no more heeded the spur than if he had been made of brass. Sancho planted himself behind his ass, and with him sheltered himself from the hailstorm that poured on both of them. Don Quixote was unable to shield himself so well but that more pebbles than I could count struck him full on the body with such force that they brought him to the ground; and the instant he fell the student pounced upon him, snatched the basin from his head, and with it struck three or four blows on his shoulders, and as many more on the ground, knocking it almost to pieces. They then stripped him of a jacket that he wore over his armour, and they would have stripped off his stockings if his greaves had not prevented them. From Sancho they took his coat, leaving him in his shirt-sleeves; and dividing among themselves the remaining spoils of the battle, they went each one his own way, more solicitous about keeping clear of the Holy Brotherhood they dreaded, than about burdening themselves with the chain, or going to present themselves before the lady Dulcinea del Toboso. The ass and Rocinante, Sancho and Don Quixote, were all that were left upon the spot; the ass with drooping head, serious, shaking his ears from time to time as if he thought the storm of stones that assailed them was not yet over; Rocinante stretched beside his master, for he too had been brought to the ground by a stone; Sancho stripped, and trembling with fear of the Holy Brotherhood; and Don Quixote fuming to find himself so served by the very persons for whom he had done so much.

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Don Quixote
Next (Chapter XXIII)


De la libertad que dio don Quijote a muchos desdichados que, mal de su grado, los llevaban donde no quisieran ir

Cuenta Cide Hamete Benengeli, autor arábigo y manchego, en esta gravísima, altisonante, mínima, dulce e imaginada historia que, después que entre el famoso don Quijote de la Mancha y Sancho Panza, su escudero, pasaron aquellas razones que en el fin del capítulo veinte y uno quedan referidas, que don Quijote alzó los ojos y vio que por el camino que llevaba venían hasta doce hombres a pie, ensartados, como cuentas, en una gran cadena de hierro por los cuellos, y todos con esposas a las manos. Venían ansimismo con ellos dos hombres de a caballo y dos de a pie; los de a caballo, con escopetas de rueda, y los de a pie, con dardos y espadas; y que así como Sancho Panza los vido, dijo:

-Ésta es cadena de galeotes, gente forzada del rey, que va a las galeras.

-¿Cómo gente forzada? -preguntó don Quijote-. ¿Es posible que el rey haga fuerza a ninguna gente?

-No digo eso -respondió Sancho-, sino que es gente que, por sus delitos, va condenada a servir al rey en las galeras de por fuerza.

-En resolución -replicó don Quijote-, comoquiera que ello sea, esta gente, aunque los llevan, van de por fuerza, y no de su voluntad.

-Así es -dijo Sancho.

-Pues desa manera -dijo su amo-, aquí encaja la ejecución de mi oficio: desfacer fuerzas y socorrer y acudir a los miserables.

-Advierta vuestra merced -dijo Sancho- que la justicia, que es el mesmo rey, no hace fuerza ni agravio a semejante gente, sino que los castiga en pena de sus delitos.

Llegó, en esto, la cadena de los galeotes, y don Quijote, con muy corteses razones, pidió a los que iban en su guarda fuesen servidos de informalle y decille la causa, o causas, por que llevan aquella gente de aquella manera. Una de las guardas de a caballo respondió que eran galeotes, gente de Su Majestad que iba a galeras, y que no había más que decir, ni él tenía más que saber.

-Con todo eso -replicó don Quijote-, querría saber de cada uno dellos en particular la causa de su desgracia.

Añadió a éstas otras tales y tan comedidas razones, para moverlos a que dijesen lo que deseaba, que la otra guarda de a caballo le dijo:

-Aunque llevamos aquí el registro y la fe de las sentencias de cada uno destos malaventurados, no es tiempo éste de detenerles a sacarlas ni a leellas; vuestra merced llegue y se lo pregunte a ellos mesmos, que ellos lo dirán si quisieren, que sí querrán, porque es gente que recibe gusto de hacer y decir bellaquerías.

Con esta licencia, que vuestra merced piensa -dijo el galeote-; que los míos fueron que quise tanto a una canasta de colar, atestada de ropa blanca, que la abracé conmigo tan fuertemente que, a no quitármela la justicia por fuerza, aún hasta agora no la hubiera dejado de mi voluntad. Fue en fragante, no hubo lugar de tormento; concluyóse la causa, acomodáronme las espaldas con ciento, y por añadidura tres precisos de gurapas, y acabóse la obra.

-¿Qué son gurapas? -preguntó don Quijote.

-Gurapas son galeras -respondió el galeote.

El cual era un mozo de hasta edad de veinte y cuatro años, y dijo que era natural de Piedrahíta. Lo mesmo preguntó don Quijote al segundo, el cual no respondió palabra, según iba de triste y malencónico; mas respondió por él el primero, y dijo:

-Éste, señor, va por canario; digo, por músico y cantor.

-Pues, ¿cómo -repitió don Quijote-, por músicos y cantores van también a galeras?

-Sí, señor -respondió el galeote-, que no hay peor cosa que cantar en el ansia.

-Antes, he yo oído decir -dijo don Quijote- que quien canta sus males espanta.

-Acá es al revés -dijo el galeote-, que quien canta una vez llora toda la vida.

-No lo entiendo -dijo don Quijote.

Mas una de las guardas le dijo:

-Señor caballero, cantar en el ansia se dice, entre esta gente non santa, confesar en el tormento. A este pecador le dieron tormento y confesó su delito, que era ser cuatrero, que es ser ladrón de bestias, y, por haber confesado, le condenaron por seis años a galeras, amén de docientos azotes que ya lleva en las espaldas. Y va siempre pensativo y triste, porque los demás ladrones que allá quedan y aquí van le maltratan y aniquilan, y escarnecen y tienen en poco, porque confesó y no tuvo ánimo de decir nones. Porque dicen ellos que tantas letras tiene un no como un sí, y que harta ventura tiene un delincuente, que está en su lengua su vida o su muerte, y no en la de los testigos y probanzas; y para mí tengo que no van muy fuera de camino.

-Y yo lo entiendo así -respondió don Quijote.

El cual, pasando al tercero, preguntó lo que a los otros; el cual, de presto y con mucho desenfado, respondió y dijo:

-Yo voy por cinco años a las señoras gurapas por faltarme diez ducados.

-Yo daré veinte de muy buena gana -dijo don Quijote- por libraros desa pesadumbre.

-Eso me parece -respondió el galeote- como quien tiene dineros en mitad del golfo y se está muriendo de hambre, sin tener adonde comprar lo que ha menester. Dígolo porque si a su tiempo tuviera yo esos veinte ducados que vuestra merced ahora me ofrece, hubiera untado con ellos la péndola del escribano y avivado el ingenio del procurador, de manera que hoy me viera en mitad de la plaza de Zocodover, de Toledo, y no en este camino, atraillado como galgo; pero Dios es grande: paciencia y basta.

Pasó don Quijote al cuarto, que era un hombre de venerable rostro con una barba blanca que le pasaba del pecho; el cual, oyéndose preguntar la causa por que allí venía, comenzó a llorar y no respondió palabra; mas el quinto condenado le sirvió de lengua, y dijo:

-Este hombre honrado va por cuatro años a galeras, habiendo paseado las acostumbradas vestido en pompa y a caballo.

-Eso es -dijo Sancho Panza-, a lo que a mí me parece, haber salido a la vergüenza.

-Así es -replicó el galeote-; y la culpa por que le dieron esta pena es por haber sido corredor de oreja, y aun de todo el cuerpo. En efecto, quiero decir que este caballero va por alcahuete, y por tener asimesmo sus puntas y collar de hechicero.

-A no haberle añadido esas puntas y collar -dijo don Quijote-, por solamente el alcahuete limpio, no merecía él ir a bogar en las galeras, sino a mandallas y a ser general dellas; porque no es así comoquiera el oficio de alcahuete, que es oficio de discretos y necesarísimo en la república bien ordenada, y que no le debía ejercer sino gente muy bien nacida; y aun había de haber veedor y examinador de los tales, como le hay de los demás oficios, con número deputado y conocido, como corredores de lonja; y desta manera se escusarían muchos males que se causan por andar este oficio y ejercicio entre gente idiota y de poco entendimiento, como son mujercillas de poco más a menos, pajecillos y truhanes de pocos años y de poca experiencia, que, a la más necesaria ocasión y cuando es menester dar una traza que importe, se les yelan las migas entre la boca y la mano y no saben cuál es su mano derecha. Quisiera pasar adelante y dar las razones por que convenía hacer elección de los que en la república habían de tener tan necesario oficio, pero no es el lugar acomodado para ello: algún día lo diré a quien lo pueda proveer y remediar. Sólo digo ahora que la pena que me ha causado ver estas blancas canas y este rostro venerable en tanta fatiga, por alcahuete, me la ha quitado el adjunto de ser hechicero; aunque bien sé que no hay hechizos en el mundo que puedan mover y forzar la voluntad, como algunos simples piensan; que es libre nuestro albedrío, y no hay yerba ni encanto que le fuerce. Lo que suelen hacer algunas mujercillas simples y algunos embusteros bellacos es algunas misturas y venenos con que vuelven locos a los hombres, dando a entender que tienen fuerza para hacer querer bien, siendo, como digo, cosa imposible forzar la voluntad.

-Así es -dijo el buen viejo-, y, en verdad, señor, que en lo de hechicero que no tuve culpa; en lo de alcahuete, no lo pude negar. Pero nunca pensé que hacía mal en ello: que toda mi intención era que todo el mundo se holgase y viviese en paz y quietud, sin pendencias ni penas; pero no me aprovechó nada este buen deseo para dejar de ir adonde no espero volver, según me cargan los años y un mal de orina que llevo, que no me deja reposar un rato.

Y aquí tornó a su llanto, como de primero; y túvole Sancho tanta compasión, que sacó un real de a cuatro del seno y se le dio de limosna. Pasó adelante don Quijote, y preguntó a otro su delito, el cual respondió con no menos, sino con mucha más gallardía que el pasado:

-Yo voy aquí porque me burlé demasiadamente con dos primas hermanas mías, y con otras dos hermanas que no lo eran mías; finalmente, tanto me burlé con todas, que resultó de la burla crecer la parentela, tan intricadamente que no hay diablo que la declare. Probóseme todo, faltó favor, no tuve dineros, víame a pique de perder los tragaderos, sentenciáronme a galeras por seis años, consentí: castigo es de mi culpa; mozo soy: dure la vida, que con ella todo se alcanza. Si vuestra merced, señor caballero, lleva alguna cosa con que socorrer a estos pobretes, Dios se lo pagará en el cielo, y nosotros tendremos en la tierra cuidado de rogar a Dios en nuestras oraciones por la vida y salud de vuestra merced, que sea tan larga y tan buena como su buena presencia merece.

Éste iba en hábito de estudiante, y dijo una de las guardas que era muy grande hablador y muy gentil latino. Tras todos éstos, venía un hombre de muy buen parecer, de edad de treinta años, sino que al mirar metía el un ojo en el otro un poco. Venía diferentemente atado que los demás, porque traía una cadena al pie, tan grande que se la liaba por todo el cuerpo, y dos argollas a la garganta, la una en la cadena, y la otra de las que llaman guardaamigo o piedeamigo, de la cual decendían dos hierros que llegaban a la cintura, en los cuales se asían dos esposas, donde llevaba las manos, cerradas con un grueso candado, de manera que ni con las manos podía llegar a la boca, ni podía bajar la cabeza a llegar a las manos. Preguntó on Quijote que cómo iba aquel hombre con tantas prisiones más que los otros. Respondióle la guarda porque tenía aquel solo más delitos que todos los otros juntos, y que era tan atrevido y tan grande bellaco que, aunque le llevaban de aquella manera, no iban seguros dél, sino que temían que se les había de huir.

-¿Qué delitos puede tener -dijo don Quijote-, si no han merecido más pena que echalle a las galeras?

-Va por diez años -replicó la guarda-, que es como muerte cevil. No se quiera saber más, sino que este buen hombre es el famoso Ginés de Pasamonte, que por otro nombre llaman Ginesillo de Parapilla.

-Señor comisario -dijo entonces el galeote-, váyase poco a poco, y no andemos ahora a deslindar nombres y sobrenombres. Ginés me llamo y no Ginesillo, y Pasamonte es mi alcurnia, y no Parapilla, como voacé dice; y cada uno se dé una vuelta a la redonda, y no hará poco.

-Hable con menos tono -replicó el comisario-, señor ladrón de más de la marca, si no quiere que le haga callar, mal que le pese.

-Bien parece -respondió el galeote- que va el hombre como Dios es servido, pero algún día sabrá alguno si me llamo Ginesillo de Parapilla o no.

-Pues, ¿no te llaman ansí, embustero? -dijo la guarda.

-Sí llaman -respondió Ginés-, mas yo haré que no me lo llamen, o me las pelaría donde yo digo entre mis dientes. Señor caballero, si tiene algo que darnos, dénoslo ya, y vaya con Dios, que ya enfada con tanto querer saber vidas ajenas; y si la mía quiere saber, sepa que yo soy Ginés de Pasamonte, cuya vida está escrita por estos pulgares.

-Dice verdad -dijo el comisario-: que él mesmo ha escrito su historia, que no hay más, y deja empeñado el libro en la cárcel en docientos reales.

-Y le pienso quitar -dijo Ginés-, si quedara en docientos ducados.

-¿Tan bueno es? -dijo don Quijote.

-Es tan bueno -respondió Ginés- que mal año para Lazarillo de Tormes y para todos cuantos de aquel género se han escrito o escribieren. Lo que le sé decir a voacé es que trata verdades, y que son verdades tan lindas y tan donosas que no pueden haber mentiras que se le igualen.

-¿Y cómo se intitula el libro? -preguntó don Quijote.

-La vida de Ginés de Pasamonte -respondió el mismo.

-¿Y está acabado? -preguntó don Quijote.

-¿Cómo puede estar acabado -respondió él-, si aún no está acabada mi vida?

Lo que está escrito es desde mi nacimiento hasta el punto que esta última vez me han echado en galeras.

-Luego, ¿otra vez habéis estado en ellas? -dijo don Quijote.

-Para servir a Dios y al rey, otra vez he estado cuatro años, y ya sé a qué sabe el bizcocho y el corbacho -respondió Ginés-; y no me pesa mucho de ir a ellas, porque allí tendré lugar de acabar mi libro, que me quedan muchas cosas que decir, y en las galeras de España hay mas sosiego de aquel que sería menester, aunque no es menester mucho más para lo que yo tengo de escribir, porque me lo sé de coro.

-Hábil pareces -dijo don Quijote.

-Y desdichado -respondió Ginés-; porque siempre las desdichas persiguen al buen ingenio.

-Persiguen a los bellacos -dijo el comisario.

-Ya le he dicho, señor comisario -respondió Pasamonte-, que se vaya poco a poco, que aquellos señores no le dieron esa vara para que maltratase a los pobretes que aquí vamos, sino para que nos guiase y llevase adonde Su Majestad manda. Si no, ¡por vida de...! ¡Basta!, que podría ser que saliesen algún día en la colada las manchas que se hicieron en la venta; y todo el mundo calle, y viva bien, y hable mejor y caminemos, que ya es mucho regodeo éste.

Alzó la vara en alto el comisario para dar a Pasamonte en respuesta de sus amenazas, mas don Quijote se puso en medio y le rogó que no le maltratase, pues no era mucho que quien llevaba tan atadas las manos tuviese algún tanto suelta la lengua. Y, volviéndose a todos los de la cadena, dijo:

-De todo cuanto me habéis dicho, hermanos carísimos, he sacado en limpio que, aunque os han castigado por vuestras culpas, las penas que vais a padecer no os dan mucho gusto, y que vais a ellas muy de mala gana y muy contra vuestra voluntad; y que podría ser que el poco ánimo que aquél tuvo en el tormento, la falta de dineros déste, el poco favor del otro y, finalmente, el torcido juicio del juez, hubiese sido causa de vuestra perdición y de no haber salido con la justicia que de vuestra parte teníades. Todo lo cual se me representa a mí ahora en la memoria de manera que me está diciendo, persuadiendo y aun forzando que muestre con vosotros el efeto para que el cielo me arrojó al mundo, y me hizo profesar en él la orden de caballería que profeso, y el voto que en ella hice de favorecer a los menesterosos y opresos de los mayores. Pero, porque sé que una de las partes de la prudencia es que lo que se puede hacer por bien no se haga por mal, quiero rogar a estos señores guardianes y comisario sean servidos de desataros y dejaros ir en paz, que no faltarán otros que sirvan al rey en mejores ocasiones; porque me parece duro caso hacer esclavos a los que Dios y naturaleza hizo libres. Cuanto más, señores guardas -añadió don Quijote-, que estos pobres no han cometido nada contra vosotros. Allá se lo haya cada uno con su pecado; Dios hay en el cielo, que no se descuida de castigar al malo ni de premiar al bueno, y no es bien que los hombres honrados sean verdugos de los otros hombres, no yéndoles nada en ello. Pido esto con esta mansedumbre y sosiego, porque tenga, si lo cumplís, algo que agradeceros; y, cuando de grado no lo hagáis, esta lanza y esta espada, con el valor de mi brazo, harán que lo hagáis por fuerza.

-¡Donosa majadería! -respondió el comisario- ¡Bueno está el donaire con que ha salido a cabo de rato! ¡Los forzados del rey quiere que le dejemos, como si tuviéramos autoridad para soltarlos o él la tuviera para mandárnoslo! Váyase vuestra merced, señor, norabuena, su camino adelante, y enderécese ese bacín que trae en la cabeza, y no ande buscando tres pies al gato.

-¡Vos sois el gato, y el rato, y el bellaco! -respondió don Quijote.

Y, diciendo y haciendo, arremetió con él tan presto que, sin que tuviese lugar de ponerse en defensa, dio con él en el suelo, malherido de una lanzada; y avínole bien, que éste era el de la escopeta. Las demás guardas quedaron atónitas y suspensas del no esperado acontecimiento; pero, volviendo sobre sí, pusieron mano a sus espadas los de a caballo, y los de a pie a sus dardos, y arremetieron a don Quijote, que con mucho sosiego los aguardaba; y, sin duda, lo pasara mal si los galeotes, viendo la ocasión que se les ofrecía de alcanzar libertad, no la procuraran, procurando romper la cadena donde venían ensartados. Fue la revuelta de manera que las guardas, ya por acudir a los galeotes, que se desataban, ya por acometer a don Quijote, que los acometía, no hicieron cosa que fuese de provecho. Ayudó Sancho, por su parte, a la soltura de Ginés de Pasamonte, que fue el primero que saltó en la campaña libre y desembarazado, y, arremetiendo al comisario caído, le quitó la espada y la escopeta, con la cual, apuntando al uno y señalando al otro, sin disparalla jamás, no quedó guarda en todo el campo, porque se fueron huyendo, así de la escopeta de Pasamonte como de las muchas pedradas que los ya sueltos galeotes les tiraban.

Entristecióse mucho Sancho deste suceso, porque se le representó que los que iban huyendo habían de dar noticia del caso a la Santa Hermandad, la cual, a campana herida, saldría a buscar los delincuentes, y así se lo dijo a su amo, y le rogó que luego de allí se partiesen y se emboscasen en la sierra, que estaba cerca.

-Bien está eso -dijo don Quijote-, pero yo sé lo que ahora conviene que se haga.

Y, llamando a todos los galeotes, que andaban alborotados y habían despojado al comisario hasta dejarle en cueros, se le pusieron todos a la redonda para ver lo que les mandaba, y así les dijo:

-De gente bien nacida es agradecer los beneficios que reciben, y uno de los pecados que más a Dios ofende es la ingratitud. Dígolo porque ya habéis visto, señores, con manifiesta experiencia, el que de mí habéis recebido; en pago del cual querría, y es mi voluntad, que, cargados de esa cadena que quité de vuestros cuellos, luego os pongáis en camino y vais a la ciudad del Toboso, y allí os presentéis ante la señora Dulcinea del Toboso y le digáis que su caballero, el de la Triste Figura, se le envía a encomendar, y le contéis, punto por punto, todos los que ha tenido esta famosa aventura hasta poneros en la deseada libertad; y, hecho esto, os podréis ir donde quisiéredes a la buena ventura.

Respondió por todos Ginés de Pasamonte, y dijo:

-Lo que vuestra merced nos manda, señor y libertador nuestro, es imposible de toda imposibilidad cumplirlo, porque no podemos ir juntos por los caminos, sino solos y divididos, y cada uno por su parte, procurando meterse en las entrañas de la tierra, por no ser hallado de la Santa Hermandad, que, sin duda alguna, ha de salir en nuestra busca. Lo que vuestra merced puede hacer, y es justo que haga, es mudar ese servicio y montazgo de la señora Dulcinea del Toboso en alguna cantidad de avemarías y credos, que nosotros diremos por la intención de vuestra merced; y ésta es cosa que se podrá cumplir de noche y de día, huyendo o reposando, en paz o en guerra; pero pensar que hemos de volver ahora a las ollas de Egipto, digo, a tomar nuestra cadena y a ponernos en camino del Toboso, es pensar que es ahora de noche, que aún no son las diez del día, y es pedir a nosotros eso como pedir peras al olmo.

-Pues ¡voto a tal! -dijo don Quijote, ya puesto en cólera-, don hijo de la puta, don Ginesillo de Paropillo, o como os llamáis, que habéis de ir vos solo, rabo entre piernas, con toda la cadena a cuestas.

Pasamonte, que no era nada bien sufrido, estando ya enterado que don Quijote no era muy cuerdo, pues tal disparate había cometido como el de querer darles libertad, viéndose tratar de aquella manera, hizo del ojo a los compañeros, y, apartándose aparte, comenzaron a llover tantas piedras sobre don Quijote, que no se daba manos a cubrirse con la rodela; y el pobre de Rocinante no hacía más caso de la espuela que si fuera hecho de bronce. Sancho se puso tras su asno, y con él se defendía de la nube y pedrisco que sobre entrambos llovía. No se pudo escudar tan bien don Quijote que no le acertasen no sé cuántos guijarros en el cuerpo, con tanta fuerza que dieron con él en el suelo; y apenas hubo caído, cuando fue sobre él el estudiante y le quitó la bacía de la cabeza, y diole con ella tres o cuatro golpes en las espaldas y otros tantos en la tierra, con que la hizo pedazos. Quitáronle una ropilla que traía sobre las armas, y las medias calzas le querían quitar si las grebas no lo estorbaran. A Sancho le quitaron el gabán, y, dejándole en pelota, repartiendo entre sí los demás despojos de la batalla, se fueron cada uno por su parte, con más cuidado de escaparse de la Hermandad, que temían, que de cargarse de la cadena e ir a presentarse ante la señora Dulcinea del Toboso.

Solos quedaron jumento y Rocinante, Sancho y Don Quijote; el jumento, cabizbajo y pensativo, sacudiendo de cuando en cuando las orejas, pensando que aún no había cesado la borrasca de las piedras, que le perseguían los oídos; Rocinante, tendido junto a su amo, que también vino al suelo de otra pedrada; Sancho, en pelota y temeroso de la Santa Hermandad; don Quijote, mohinísimo de verse tan malparado por los mismos a quien tanto bien había hecho.

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