WHEREIN IT IS SHOWN WHO MASTER PEDRO AND HIS APE WERE, TOGETHER WITH THE MISHAP DON QUIXOTE HAD IN THE BRAYING ADVENTURE, WHICH HE DID NOT CONCLUDE AS HE WOULD HAVE LIKED OR AS HE HAD EXPECTED
Cide Hamete, the chronicler of this great history, begins this chapter with these words, "I swear as a Catholic Christian;" with regard to which his translator says that Cide Hamete's swearing as a Catholic Christian, he being — as no doubt he was — a Moor, only meant that, just as a Catholic Christian taking an oath swears, or ought to swear, what is true, and tell the truth in what he avers, so he was telling the truth, as much as if he swore as a Catholic Christian, in all he chose to write about Quixote, especially in declaring who Master Pedro was and what was the divining ape that astonished all the villages with his divinations. He says, then, that he who has read the First Part of this history will remember well enough the Gines de Pasamonte whom, with other galley slaves, Don Quixote set free in the Sierra Morena: a kindness for which he afterwards got poor thanks and worse payment from that evil-minded, ill-conditioned set. This Gines de Pasamonte — Don Ginesillo de Parapilla, Don Quixote called him — it was that stole Dapple from Sancho Panza; which, because by the fault of the printers neither the how nor the when was stated in the First Part, has been a puzzle to a good many people, who attribute to the bad memory of the author what was the error of the press. In fact, however, Gines stole him while Sancho Panza was asleep on his back, adopting the plan and device that Brunello had recourse to when he stole Sacripante's horse from between his legs at the siege of Albracca; and, as has been told, Sancho afterwards recovered him. This Gines, then, afraid of being caught by the officers of justice, who were looking for him to punish him for his numberless rascalities and offences (which were so many and so great that he himself wrote a big book giving an account of them), resolved to shift his quarters into the kingdom of Aragon, and cover up his left eye, and take up the trade of a puppet-showman; for this, as well as juggling, he knew how to practise to perfection. From some released Christians returning from Barbary, it so happened, he bought the ape, which he taught to mount upon his shoulder on his making a certain sign, and to whisper, or seem to do so, in his ear. Thus prepared, before entering any village whither he was bound with his show and his ape, he used to inform himself at the nearest village, or from the most likely person he could find, as to what particular things had happened there, and to whom; and bearing them well in mind, the first thing he did was to exhibit his show, sometimes one story, sometimes another, but all lively, amusing, and familiar. As soon as the exhibition was over he brought forward the accomplishments of his ape, assuring the public that he divined all the past and the present, but as to the future he had no skill. For each question answered he asked two reals, and for some he made a reduction, just as he happened to feel the pulse of the questioners; and when now and then he came to houses where things that he knew of had happened to the people living there, even if they did not ask him a question, not caring to pay for it, he would make the sign to the ape and then declare that it had said so and so, which fitted the case exactly. In this way he acquired a prodigious name and all ran after him; on other occasions, being very crafty, he would answer in such a way that the answers suited the questions; and as no one cross-questioned him or pressed him to tell how his ape divined, he made fools of them all and filled his pouch. The instant he entered the inn he knew Don Quixote and Sancho, and with that knowledge it was easy for him to astonish them and all who were there; but it would have cost him dear had Don Quixote brought down his hand a little lower when he cut off King Marsilio's head and destroyed all his horsemen, as related in the preceeding chapter.
So much for Master Pedro and his ape; and now to return to Don Quixote of La Mancha. After he had left the inn he determined to visit, first of all, the banks of the Ebro and that neighbourhood, before entering the city of Saragossa, for the ample time there was still to spare before the jousts left him enough for all. With this object in view he followed the road and travelled along it for two days, without meeting any adventure worth committing to writing until on the third day, as he was ascending a hill, he heard a great noise of drums, trumpets, and musket-shots. At first he imagined some regiment of soldiers was passing that way, and to see them he spurred Rocinante and mounted the hill. On reaching the top he saw at the foot of it over two hundred men, as it seemed to him, armed with weapons of various sorts, lances, crossbows, partisans, halberds, and pikes, and a few muskets and a great many bucklers. He descended the slope and approached the band near enough to see distinctly the flags, make out the colours and distinguish the devices they bore, especially one on a standard or ensign of white satin, on which there was painted in a very life-like style an ass like a little sard, with its head up, its mouth open and its tongue out, as if it were in the act and attitude of braying; and round it were inscribed in large characters these two lines —
They did not bray in vain,
Our alcaldes twain.
From this device Don Quixote concluded that these people must be from the braying town, and he said so to Sancho, explaining to him what was written on the standard. At the same time he observed that the man who had told them about the matter was wrong in saying that the two who brayed were regidors, for according to the lines of the standard they were alcaldes. To which Sancho replied, "Senor, there's nothing to stick at in that, for maybe the regidors who brayed then came to be alcaldes of their town afterwards, and so they may go by both titles; moreover, it has nothing to do with the truth of the story whether the brayers were alcaldes or regidors, provided at any rate they did bray; for an alcalde is just as likely to bray as a regidor." They perceived, in short, clearly that the town which had been twitted had turned out to do battle with some other that had jeered it more than was fair or neighbourly.
Don Quixote proceeded to join them, not a little to Sancho's uneasiness, for he never relished mixing himself up in expeditions of that sort. The members of the troop received him into the midst of them, taking him to be some one who was on their side. Don Quixote, putting up his visor, advanced with an easy bearing and demeanour to the standard with the ass, and all the chief men of the army gathered round him to look at him, staring at him with the usual amazement that everybody felt on seeing him for the first time. Don Quixote, seeing them examining him so attentively, and that none of them spoke to him or put any question to him, determined to take advantage of their silence; so, breaking his own, he lifted up his voice and said, "Worthy sirs, I entreat you as earnestly as I can not to interrupt an argument I wish to address to you, until you find it displeases or wearies you; and if that come to pass, on the slightest hint you give me I will put a seal upon my lips and a gag upon my tongue."
They all bade him say what he liked, for they would listen to him willingly.