The questions and answers came to an end here, but not the wonder with which all were filled, except Don Antonio's two friends who were in the secret. This Cide Hamete Benengeli thought fit to reveal at once, not to keep the world in suspense, fancying that the head had some strange magical mystery in it. He says, therefore, that on the model of another head, the work of an image maker, which he had seen at Madrid, Don Antonio made this one at home for his own amusement and to astonish ignorant people; and its mechanism was as follows. The table was of wood painted and varnished to imitate jasper, and the pedestal on which it stood was of the same material, with four eagles' claws projecting from it to support the weight more steadily. The head, which resembled a bust or figure of a Roman emperor, and was coloured like bronze, was hollow throughout, as was the table, into which it was fitted so exactly that no trace of the joining was visible. The pedestal of the table was also hollow and communicated with the throat and neck of the head, and the whole was in communication with another room underneath the chamber in which the head stood. Through the entire cavity in the pedestal, table, throat and neck of the bust or figure, there passed a tube of tin carefully adjusted and concealed from sight. In the room below corresponding to the one above was placed the person who was to answer, with his mouth to the tube, and the voice, as in an ear-trumpet, passed from above downwards, and from below upwards, the words coming clearly and distinctly; it was impossible, thus, to detect the trick. A nephew of Don Antonio's, a smart sharp-witted student, was the answerer, and as he had been told beforehand by his uncle who the persons were that would come with him that day into the chamber where the head was, it was an easy matter for him to answer the first question at once and correctly; the others he answered by guess-work, and, being clever, cleverly. Cide Hamete adds that this marvellous contrivance stood for some ten or twelve days; but that, as it became noised abroad through the city that he had in his house an enchanted head that answered all who asked questions of it, Don Antonio, fearing it might come to the ears of the watchful sentinels of our faith, explained the matter to the inquisitors, who commanded him to break it up and have done with it, lest the ignorant vulgar should be scandalised. By Don Quixote, however, and by Sancho the head was still held to be an enchanted one, and capable of answering questions, though more to Don Quixote's satisfaction than Sancho's.
The gentlemen of the city, to gratify Don Antonio and also to do the honours to Don Quixote, and give him an opportunity of displaying his folly, made arrangements for a tilting at the ring in six days from that time, which, however, for reason that will be mentioned hereafter, did not take place.
Don Quixote took a fancy to stroll about the city quietly and on foot, for he feared that if he went on horseback the boys would follow him; so he and Sancho and two servants that Don Antonio gave him set out for a walk. Thus it came to pass that going along one of the streets Don Quixote lifted up his eyes and saw written in very large letters over a door, "Books printed here," at which he was vastly pleased, for until then he had never seen a printing office, and he was curious to know what it was like. He entered with all his following, and saw them drawing sheets in one place, correcting in another, setting up type here, revising there; in short all the work that is to be seen in great printing offices. He went up to one case and asked what they were about there; the workmen told him, he watched them with wonder, and passed on. He approached one man, among others, and asked him what he was doing. The workman replied, "Senor, this gentleman here" (pointing to a man of prepossessing appearance and a certain gravity of look) "has translated an Italian book into our Spanish tongue, and I am setting it up in type for the press."
"What is the title of the book?" asked Don Quixote; to which the author replied, "Senor, in Italian the book is called Le Bagatelle."
"And what does Le Bagatelle import in our Spanish?" asked Don Quixote.
"Le Bagatelle," said the author, "is as though we should say in Spanish Los Juguetes; but though the book is humble in name it has good solid matter in it."
"I," said Don Quixote, "have some little smattering of Italian, and I plume myself on singing some of Ariosto's stanzas; but tell me, senor — I do not say this to test your ability, but merely out of curiosity — have you ever met with the word pignatta in your book?"
"Yes, often," said the author.
"And how do you render that in Spanish?"
"How should I render it," returned the author, "but by olla?"
"Body o' me," exclaimed Don Quixote, "what a proficient you are in the Italian language! I would lay a good wager that where they say in Italian piace you say in Spanish place, and where they say piu you say mas, and you translate su by arriba and giu by abajo."
"I translate them so of course," said the author, "for those are their proper equivalents."
"I would venture to swear," said Don Quixote, "that your worship is not known in the world, which always begrudges their reward to rare wits and praiseworthy labours. What talents lie wasted there! What genius thrust away into corners! What worth left neglected! Still it seems to me that translation from one language into another, if it be not from the queens of languages, the Greek and the Latin, is like looking at Flemish tapestries on the wrong side; for though the figures are visible, they are full of threads that make them indistinct, and they do not show with the smoothness and brightness of the right side; and translation from easy languages argues neither ingenuity nor command of words, any more than transcribing or copying out one document from another. But I do not mean by this to draw the inference that no credit is to be allowed for the work of translating, for a man may employ himself in ways worse and less profitable to himself. This estimate does not include two famous translators, Doctor Cristobal de Figueroa, in his Pastor Fido, and Don Juan de Jauregui, in his Aminta, wherein by their felicity they leave it in doubt which is the translation and which the original. But tell me, are you printing this book at your own risk, or have you sold the copyright to some bookseller?"
"I print at my own risk," said the author, "and I expect to make a thousand ducats at least by this first edition, which is to be of two thousand copies that will go off in a twinkling at six reals apiece."
"A fine calculation you are making!" said Don Quixote; "it is plain you don't know the ins and outs of the printers, and how they play into one another's hands. I promise you when you find yourself saddled with two thousand copies you will feel so sore that it will astonish you, particularly if the book is a little out of the common and not in any way highly spiced."
"What!" said the author, "would your worship, then, have me give it to a bookseller who will give three maravedis for the copyright and think he is doing me a favour? I do not print my books to win fame in the world, for I am known in it already by my works; I want to make money, without which reputation is not worth a rap."
"God send your worship good luck," said Don Quixote; and he moved on to another case, where he saw them correcting a sheet of a book with the title of "Light of the Soul;" noticing it he observed, "Books like this, though there are many of the kind, are the ones that deserve to be printed, for many are the sinners in these days, and lights unnumbered are needed for all that are in darkness."
He passed on, and saw they were also correcting another book, and when he asked its title they told him it was called, "The Second Part of the Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha," by one of Tordesillas.
"I have heard of this book already," said Don Quixote, "and verily and on my conscience I thought it had been by this time burned to ashes as a meddlesome intruder; but its Martinmas will come to it as it does to every pig; for fictions have the more merit and charm about them the more nearly they approach the truth or what looks like it; and true stories, the truer they are the better they are;" and so saying he walked out of the printing office with a certain amount of displeasure in his looks. That same day Don Antonio arranged to take him to see the galleys that lay at the beach, whereat Sancho was in high delight, as he had never seen any all his life. Don Antonio sent word to the commandant of the galleys that he intended to bring his guest, the famous Don Quixote of La Mancha, of whom the commandant and all the citizens had already heard, that afternoon to see them; and what happened on board of them will be told in the next chapter.