The Comical History of Rincon and Cortado

Author: Miguel de Cervantes  | Date: 1613

The Comical History of Rincon and Cortado

AT a certain inn, near the end of those large and fertile plains of Alcadia, as we go from Castile to Andalusia, in one of the hottest days in summer, there chanced to meet together two boys, about fourteen or fifteen years of age, neither of them could exceed seventeen, both of a good countenance, but in a very ragged and shabby condition; they had no cloaks on, their breeches were of linen, their stockings were such as nature gave; they were indeed something better shod, for one of them had a pair of shoes made of rushes, though it is true, they were none of the best, and those of the other had a multiplicity of holes in them, and the soles quite worn away; one of them had on a green cap like a huntsman; the other an old hat without a hatband, low in the crown, and broad enough in the brims for an umbrello; shirts they had none, for they had but half a one betwixt them, or, in other words, one of them had a piece of a shirt, which just covered his shoulders and breast, and that was so black, that one would have sworn it had not been washed since the days of Noah; as for the other, he had none at all, nor any pockets, but he seemed to have a little bundle in his bosom, which (as it afterwards appeared) contained nothing but a neckband or two, which had no need of being starched, for they were starched enough with grease; there were carefully wrapt up in them, some cards of an oval figure, the corners of them being worn out by frequent use; they were both of them sun-burnt, their nails as long as eagle’s claws, and their hands not very clean; one of them had an old dagger by his side, and the other a yellow-handled knife, such as is used by butchers; they both went out to cool themselves in the porch before the inn, and sitting down fronting each other, the eldest said to the youngest, Pray young gentleman, what is your country, and whither are you bound? My country, replied the youngest, I do not know, neither do I know which way I am travelling. Why, truly, said the elder, I do not suppose your worship came from heaven, neither is this a place for you to take up your abode in; and therefore you will be obliged to go farther. It is very true, answered the youngest; but I told you true in what I said, because the place I was born in, is not mine, nor have I any thing more there, than a father that does not own me, and a mother-in-law, who indeed treats me like a son-in-law, and the road where I travel, is where fortune leads, and where I find any body that will give me what is necessary to pass through this miserable life; there will be the end of my journey. And pray, Sir, said the eldest, Was you brought up to any business? The other replied, I know none, but that I can run as fast as a hare, and leap like a deer, and handle a pair of scissars admirably well. All this is very good and profitable, said the eldest, because some sexton or another will give you the All-Saints offering, if you can cut him out the paper flowers for the monuments on Holy Thursday. You mistake me, Sir, replied the youngest, my calling is not of that kind; but that as my father, by the goodness of heaven, was a taylor and hosier, he learnt me to cut out buskins, which are, as you well know, a sort of stockings without feet; and truly, I might long before now have been a master taylor, had not my niggardly fortune thrust me up in a corner. All these things, said the eldest, I reckon of worth, and I have always heard say, that the greatest genius’s lie most concealed; however, you are still young enough to mend your fortune; but, if I am not deceived, you have yet greater abilities, which you do not care to discover. That I have, said the youngest, but they are not for every one to know, as you have well observed. To which the eldest replied, But I can assure you, I am one of the secretest young men that you will find in many miles, and to oblige you to discover your greatest secrets, I will tell you mine first; for I imagine there is some mystery in our coming together after this manner; and it is my belief, we shall remain true friends to each other, as long as we live. I, Sir, was born in Fuenfrida, a well-known place, and very famous for the great number of travellers, which are continually passing through it: My name is Pedro del Rincon, my father is a gentleman, for he is a minister of the holy crusade; that is, he is one who publishes the Pope’s bulls; for some time I assisted him in this office, and learned it so well, that I would not turn my back on any body in the business. But one day taking a greater affection to the money arising from the profits of the bulls, than to the bulls themselves, I laid hold of a bag, and made the best of my way with it to Madrid, where with the many opportunities I had of spending my money, I soon drew out the very intrails of my bag.

He that had the charge of the money, came after me, and apprehended me, and I had but little favour shewn me; although it is true, the judges pitying my youth, contented themselves with ordering me to be tyed up, and to be a little fly-slapp’d, and that I should be banish’d from the court for four years: I bore my sufferings with patience, shrugg’d up my shoulders, and went into banishment with so much haste, that I had no time to look for a horse; I took along with me what I thought most necessary, and amongst the rest, this pack of cards, (and now I called to mind the old saying, He carries his all on his back ) for with these I have gained my living at all the public houses and inns between Madrid and this place, playing at one and thirty; and though, Sir, they are dirty and torn, they are of wonderful service to those who understand them, for they shall never cut without leaving an ace at bottom, which is one good point towards eleven, with which advantage, thirty-one being the game, he sweeps all the money into his pocket: Besides this, I know some slight tricks at cards and hazard, so that as you are very dexterous, and a thorough master of the art of cutting of buskins, I am every bit as expert in the science of cheating people, and therefore I am in no fear of starving; for though I come but to a small cottage, there are always some who have a mind to pass away time by playing a little, and of this we may now try the experiment ourselves; let us spread the nets, and we shall see if none of these birds, the carriers, will fall into them; which is as much as to say, you and I will play together at one and thirty, as if it was in earnest, perhaps some body may make the third, and he shall be sure to be the first to leave his money behind him. With all my heart, said the other, and I take it as a very great favour, you have given me this account of your life, which has laid such an obligation upon me, that I shall now make you acquainted with mine; which take as follows. I was born in a pitiful little place, between Salamanca and Medina del Campo; my father is a taylor, he instructed me perfectly in his business, and made me a compleat master of the sheers; but I being a person of great ingenuity, did not stop here, but thinking two professions better than one, fell to cutting of purses, and being soon tired of so small a village, which was in no wise large enough for my abilities to exercise themselves in, and not caring to suffer any longer the cruelty with which my step-mother treated me, I packed up my alls, bid adieu to the village, and went to Toledo to exercise my business, in which place I acted wonders, for there was no pocket so private that my fingers did not visit, or scissars cut, although they were guarded by Argus’s eyes; and in the four months that I continued in that city, I was never once taken, nor obliged to leap walls, nor pursued by the catchpoles, nor blown by any cuckold of them all; though it is true, a roguish spy had given notice of my great abilities to a justice of the peace, who being affected with my great parts, had a great mind to see me; but I being of an humble disposition, did not care to make so free with such grave personages, for which reason I would not wait on him; therefore went out of the city with so much speed, that I had not time to provide myself with a horse or mule, or to put so much as a single farthing in my pockets, nor look out for a return coach, or cart at least. Well, says Rincon, we will rub out all that, for now we know one another, we have no need to talk any more of our noble birth or quality, nor to take state upon us, but let us confess we have not either of us a farthing in our pockets, nor yet shoes to our feet. It is even so, answered Diego Cortado, (for so the little one was called) and since our friendship, Mr. Rincon, as you say, must be perpetual, let us begin it with solemn and praiseworthy ceremonies. And so Diego Cortado getting up, embraced Rincon, and Rincon him, with great marks of affection, and immediately they set down to play at one and thirty with the afore-mentioned cards, free indeed from dust and straw, but not from grease and deceit; and in a few deals Cortado cut the ace as dexterously as his master Rincon. In the mean time came a carrier out of the inn to cool himself in the porch, and asked leave to make a third; they took him in with a good will, and in less than half an hour, they won twelve ryals *001 and eleven maravedis, *002 which stabbed him twelve times to the heart and gave him eleven thousand vexations. The carrier believing, as they were but boys, they would not defend themselves, would have taken the money from them; but one laying his hand on his dagger, and the other on his butcher’s knife, gave him so much employment, that had not his companions run to his assistance, without doubt he had come poorly off. At this very nick of time, a company of travellers on horseback happened to come by, who were going to dine at the inn of Alcalde, which was half a league farther, who seeing the quarrel between the boys and the carrier, made peace betwixt them, and told the boys, that in case they were going to Seville, they might go along with them. We are going there, said Rincon, and we will serve you in whatsoever you command; and without any more ado, they ran before the mules, leaving the carrier in vexation and trouble enough, and the hostess in admiration, at the cunningness of the young rogues, she having privately overheard all their discourse; and when she told the carrier that she heard them say the cards they had were false, he was ready to tear his very mustachoes for anger, and would needs go after them to get his money again, for he said it was the greatest affront and indignity, that two such boys should cheat so great a man as himself, but his companions stopped him, advising him not to go, unless he had a mind to publish his own folly and simplicity; in short, they said so many things to him, that although they gave him no great comfort, however obliged him to desist from going after them.

But to return to our youngsters, Cortado and Rincon behaved themselves so well to the travellers, that the greatest part of the way they were carried behind one or other of them; for although they had several opportunities of exploring the inside of the travellers portmantles and cloak-bags, they would not make use of them, that they might not lose so good an opportunity of going to Seville, which place they had a great mind to see. However, having entered the city about the time of evening- prayer, and being just come to the custom-house, where the duty upon all goods is paid, Cortado could not refrain from ripping open a portmantle, which a Frenchman, who was one of the company, carried behind him; and so with his long knife, he gave it so large and deep a wound, that the very entrails of it might be seen; and dexterously drew out two good shirts, a sun-dial, and a memorandum book, with which, when they came to examine their booty, they were not at all pleased; and thinking that since the Frenchman carried so large a portmantle behind him, there must needs be somewhat in it of more value than these trifles, they had a great mind to return and give it another sounding, but they did not do it, imagining the Frenchman had before now perceived the trick they had played him, and taken care of what they had left behind in the portmantle.

They had taken their leaves of those who had maintained them to this place, before they committed the theft; the next day they sold the shirts in the market for old cloaths, which is kept without the Sand Gate; they sold them for twenty ryals; after this they went to see the city, admiring its grandeur, and the sumptuousness of its great church, the great concourse of people on the river, it being the time of loading the fleet, and there being six gallies on it; the sight of them made them sigh, fearing their way of life would bring them there, one day, to end their lives. Seeing a great many boys running up and down with little baskets, they asked what business that was, if it was laborious, and what gains attended it. An Austrian boy, of whom they enquired, answered, that it was an easy business, and paid no duty; that some days they gained five or six ryals, with which they eat and drank, and were as merry as kings. The two friends did not think much amiss of this account which the Austrian gave, neither did the business displease them, for they thought that under covers of that, they might practise their own with more security, and better success, by the opportunities it would give them of entering into houses; and therefore they immediately resolved to buy what was necessary for the business, since they might enter upon it without examination; so asking the Austrian what was necessary to buy, he answered, two little new bags, and each of them three baskets of palm, two great and one little one, in which they were to put separately, the meat, fish, and fruit, and the bread in the bag; he shewed them where they were sold, and they paid for all out of the booty they took from the Frenchman. The Austrian told them, that in less than two hours, they might take their degree in their new business, if they did but use their baskets cleverly; he advised them to repair in the morning to the butchery, and the market of St. Saviour; on fish-days to the fish-market; every evening to the river; and on Thursdays to the fair. They took care to get this lesson well by heart, and the next day early in the morning, they went to the market of St. Saviour; they had scarcely come into it, but the young lads of the same business surrounded them, who by the flaming fine figure of their bags and baskets, saw they were novices, and asked them a thousand questions, to which they answered with a great deal of discretion and modesty; in the mean time there came a young man dressed in black, like a student, and a soldier, into the market, who being invited by the neatness of their baskets, he that looked like the student, called Cortado, and the soldier, Rincon: Here we are, said both; may this be a good beginning, said Rincon, for you are the first, Sir, that has given me handsel, To which the soldier replied, The handsel will not be bad, because I am in love, and am to make a treat to-day, for some ladies of my mistress’s acquaintance. Well Sir, said Rincon, load me with what you please, for I have a willing mind, and am strong enough to carry away all in the market; and if it might be of any service, I would lend a helping hand to cook it too, with a very good will. The soldier was well pleased with the humour of the boy, and told him, if he was willing to serve him, he would take him off his mean employment. To which Rincon answered, That this being the very first day of using it, he was resolved not to leave it so soon; at least till he could be able to judge of the good and bad there was in it; and at any time, that the business he followed did not please him, he gave him his word to serve him sooner than a canon of the church.

The soldier laughed at him, and loading him well, shewed him his mistress’s house, and bid him mind it well, that he might know it another time, when he wanted him again on the like occasion. Rincon promised the soldier faithfulness and good usage; the soldier gave him three halfpence, and in a trice he returned to the market again, that he might not let slip any opportunity; for the Austrian had advised them to be diligent, and had told them likewise, that when they carried any small fish, as gudgeons, grigs, and suchlike, they might take a few of them for a taste; but that this must be done with a great deal of sagacity and prudence, for fear of losing their reputation and credit, which was of the greatest importance in that business. Although Rincon made such haste back again, yet he found Cortado already returned; Cortado came up to Rincon, and asked how things went; Rincon opened his hand, and shewed him the three halfpence; Cortado put his hand into his bosom, and pulled out a little purse, which seemed to have been in former times of a yellow colour, and looked as if it was well filled. Here, says he, his reverence the student paid me with this, and a penny besides, but do you take it, Rincon, for fear of what may happen; and having given it to him privately; See here, said he, is the student returning all in a sweat, and in a terrible taking about his purse. The student seeing Cortado, asked him, If by chance he had seen a purse, with such and such marks, which contained fifteen crowns in gold, and six ryals in silver, besides copper; and to tell him truly, if he had not taken it while he was bargaining for provisions? To which, with a strange dissimulation, and without the least alteration or change of countenance, Cortado answered, All that I can say about it is, that it would not have been lost, if you had taken more care of it. That is very true, sinner that I am, answered the student, for sure enough had I taken more care of it, they would not have stolen it from me. I say so too, replied Cortado, but for all things there is a remedy, except against death; and that which you ought first to take, it being a principal ingredient, is patience; and besides this, one day comes after another, and it may be, in time, he that has taken your purse, may repent of this horrid crime, and bring it you back again perfumed. We will pardon the perfuming of it, replied the student. And Cortado went on thus; And more than this, Sir, there may be had letters of excommunication, and using diligence, which is the mother of good fortune, you may chance to get it again; and in good truth, I would not be the taker of the purse; for if you are in holy orders, I account it to be as great a crime, as if I had committed sacrilege or incest. You say true, replied the grieved student, for indeed the taker of it has committed sacrilege: For although I am not a priest, but only sexton to a monastery, the money in the purse was the third part of one of the chaplain’s sallary, which I received for a certain priest, a friend of mine, and it is sacred and blessed money. Much good may it do him that has it, answered Rincon, for I would not farm his gains; for the day of judgment will come, when all things will be brought to light, and then it will be known who it was that dared to be so bold as to take, steal, and diminish the third part of the chaplain’s sallary; and now we are talking of sallaries, pray good Mr. Sexton, what sallary may you have a year? Sallary! a pox on the whore your mother, replied the sexton, with somewhat too much choler, is this a time to tell what sallary I have a year? Tell me, brothers, if you know any thing of the matter, if not fare you well; for I will even set the cryer to work. I believe that will not be a bad method, said Cortado; but I would advise you, Sir, not to forget the marks of the purse, nor the quantity of the money in it, for you must be very punctual in that, you must not mistake a farthing, if you do, will never see it again, whilst you live, and this you may depend on. There is no fear of that, said the sexton, for I remember it better than the chiming of the bells, I shall not fail in the least tittle of it. Whilst he was talking thus, he pulled out of his pockets a laced handkerchief, to wipe away the sweat which distilled down his face, as from an alembic. Cortado had no sooner seen it, but he marked it for his own; and the sexton being gone, Cortado followed him, and overtook him on the steps of the exchange, and calling him on one side, he began to make such a long harangue, without either head or tail, talking a great deal about the theft, the reward for finding the purse, and giving some hopes of seeing it again; without concluding any thing he had begun; so that the poor sexton was quite stunned with his talk, and as he could not possibly understand his meaning, he was obliged to make him repeat the same thing two or three times. Cortado stared him full in the face, and never took his eyes off his; the sexton stared at him in the same manner, being attentive to catch his words; the greatness of his perplexity and stupefaction gave Cortado time to finish his work, and he dexterously drew the handkerchief out of his pocket, and then taking leave of him, told him that in the evening he would make it his business to see him again in the same place, because he had some inkling of a boy of the same business, and much about his bigness, that was a little thieving cur, who had very likely taken his purse, and that he would certainly find it out in a few days; with which he made the poor sexton a little easy, and so he took his leave of Cortado, who then went to Rincon, who had seen all at a little distance; and a little below stood one of the basket-boys, who observed all that passed, and how that Cortado had given the handkerchief to Rincon; and coming up to them, he said, Gallant gentlemen, tell me, are ye entered or no? We do not understand what you mean, young gentleman, answered Rincon. Do not you understand Murcios? *003 replied the other. We are neither of Teba *004 nor Murcia, *005 said Cortado; and if you have any thing more to say, speak it; if not, go in God’s name. Do not you understand me? said the boy. Then I must tell you, it is as much as to say, Gentlemen, are you thieves? But I do not know why I ask you this question; for I see you are such; but how comes it to pass, you have not been at Don Monipodio’s custom-house? Pray, gallant Sir, do thieves pay tribute in this country? said Rincon. If they do not pay, at least they register themselves before Don Monipodio, replied the boy, who is their father, their master, and protector; therefore I advise you to go with me, and pay him your obedience, otherways not to venture to steal without his mark, if you do, it will cost you dear. I thought, said Cortado, that thieving was a business free from any tax or duty; and that it was only hazarding neck and shoulders. But since it is so, and that every country has its custom, let us keep this, and therefore you may, if you please, conduct us to this gentleman of whom you speak; for according to all I have heard of him, I already conjecture, that he is well-bred and qualified, and that he is very capable of his business. He is, answered the young lad, so well qualified, capable and dexterous, that in four years, that he has had the charge of being our head and father, there has been only four made their exit on the gallows, thirty racked, and sixty-two sent to the gallies.

After they had walked some time, Rincon said to their guide, And pray is your worship a thief? Yes, answered he, at God’s and good people’s service, although not the most acquainted with the business; for as yet, I am but in the novice year. To which Cortado replied, It is something new to me, that there should be thieves in the world at God’s and good people’s service. To which the boy answered, I do not trouble myself about divinity; what I know is, that every body ought to praise God in his business, and more so by the particular charge Monipodio gives to all his adopted children. Without all doubt, said Rincon, it must be a good and holy charge, since it makes thieves serve God. It is so good and holy, replied the boy, that in our business I believe it cannot be mended. He has given orders, that out of whatever we steal, we should charitably give some part to buy oil for the lamp of a certain image, which is in this city; and truly we have seen many great things effected by this good work; for some days since, they thrice racked one of our brotherhood, who had stolen two asses; and notwithstanding he was very lean, and had a quartan ague upon him, he suffered the punishment, as if it had been nothing, without making the least confession; and our society attribute this to their good devotion, because his strength of itself, was not sufficient to undergo the first twist of the rack; and besides, this particular act of devotion, of laying by some part of our profits to defray the expence of oil in the aforesaid lamp, we pray often, our rosaries being divided into portions for the whole week, and there are many of us that will not steal on a Friday, nor have any conversation on Saturday with a woman who is named Mary. These, said Cortado, are precious pearls indeed; but pray tell me, Sir, do they make any restitution, or do they any penance more than what has been said? As for restoring any thing, I can say nothing to that, replied the boy, because it is a thing impossible, what we steal, being divided into so many parts, that the first thief cannot, if he would, restore any thing again; and besides, there is none who commands us to do any such thing, for we never go to confession; and if they get letters of excommunication, they never come to our notice, for we never go to church, when they are read, but only on the days of the jubilee, for the sake of the gain which the great concourse of people brings us. And on account of these acts of devotion, said Cortado, do these gentlemen say, they lead a good and holy life? And pray what harm is there in it, said the boy? Is it not worse to be an heretic, a renegade, to murder father or mother, or to be a solomite? A sodomite, Sir, said Rincon, is what you mean. The very same, answered the boy. All is very bad, replied Cortado; but since our fate has ordained, that we should enter into this fraternity, I beg of you to mend your pace, for I die with impatience to see this gentleman Monipodio, whose virtues and noble qualities you have so much enlarged upon. Your desire shall be satisfied presently, said the young lad; for from hence one may see the house. Please gentlemen, to stay at the door, and I will go in and see if he is at leisure; for there are set hours in which he gives audience. Very well, answered Rincon. And their guide stepping a little before, entered a house not of a very good, but of a very bad appearance; Rincon and Cortado stood waiting at the door; he came out again presently, and called them; they went in, and their conductor ordered them to stay in a little hall paved with tiles; on one side stood a three-legged stool; on the other a broken-mouthed pitcher, and a little pot without a handle on the top; in another part was a flag-mat; and in the middle stood a flower-pot. The two youths attentively surveyed the furniture of the house, whilst Don Monipodio came down; and finding he staid long, Rincon made bold to go into a little room which was on the same floor, and he saw therein two swords, two targets of cork hanging on four nails, a great chest without a lid, or any thing to cover it, with three flag-mats laid on the ground; on the wall fronting the door, was pasted a picture of the virgin Mary, which was of the worst sort, and made her a most hideous and frightful figure; a little below that, hung a little basket made of palm, and a little font fixed into the wall, from whence Rincon conjectured, the basket served for the poor’s box, and the other to hold holy water in; and so it was indeed. Whilst they were here, two young men dressed like students, who seemed to be about twenty, came into the house; a little while after that came in two basket boys and a blind man; and without speaking a word, they began to walk up and down the hall; it was not long after, when two old men came dressed in bays, with spectacles, *006 on their nose, which made them appear grave, and worthy of respect, with each a string of beads in their hands; and after them came in an old woman, who, without speaking a word, went into the side room, and having taken some holy water, fell down on her knees before the picture of the virgin Mary, with the most profound devotion; and after a long time, having first kissed the earth three times, and as often lifted up her hands and eyes to heaven, she got up, put her charity into the basket, and came out into the hall, among the rest; in fine, in a little time, there was assembled in the hall, about fourteen persons of different garbs and employments: Last of all came in two fierce looking fellows, fantastically dressed, with large whiskers, broad brim’d hats, swinging ruffs, flame-coloured stockings, and swords of a monstrous and frightful size; each had a pair of pistols instead of daggers, and their targets hanging to their belts; who, as soon as ever they came in, stared Rincon and Cortado full in the face, as not knowing them, and wondering who they were; and coming up to them, asked them if they belonged to the fraternity? Rincon answered yes, and very much their honours humble servants. This happened at the very nick of time that Don Monipodio came down, long expected, and as gladly seen by all that virtuous company; he seemed to be of about five or six and forty years of age, tall in stature, and of a swarthy complexion, his eyes sunk in his head, his beard black and very thick; he came down in a cloak of bays hanging almost to his feet, on which he had a pair of shoes slipshod; his legs were covered by a large pair of trousers, which reached down to his ancles; his hat looked like that of a pick-pocket, being low in the crown, and the flaps hanging down over his face; he wore across his breast, an old shoulder-belt, on which hung a short broad sword; his hands were short and hairy, his fingers thick, and the nails flat; his legs were not to be seen, (being hid by his breeches and cloak) but his feet were monstrously broad, and the knuckle-bones sticking out; in short, take him altogether, he was the most uncouth and deformed barbarian in the world. The conductor of Rincon and Cortado came down with them, and taking them by the hand, presented them to Monipodio, saying, These are the two clever young men I was speaking to you of, Don Monipodio; if your worship will please to examine them, you will find them worthy of entering into our congregation. That I will do with a good will, replied Monipodio. I forgot to mention, that as soon as ever Monipodio came down, every one that was waiting for him, at that very instant made a profound and low reverence to him, except the two bravoes, who just moved their hats, and immediately returned to their walk on one side the hall, and on the other Monipodio walked up and down, and asked the two youngsters their business, country and parents.

To which Rincon answered, Our business is already told by our coming before your worship; our country it is not of much importance to know; our parents as little, since we are not making information to receive any habit of honour. To which Monipodio answered, You are in the right of it, my child, and what you say is very true, for it is very proper to conceal those things, because if your fortune should not turn out so well as it should, it is not good to have it set down under the clerk’s hand, or upon record, that such a one, son of such a one, inhabitant of such a place, was on such a day hanged, whipped, or the like, for at least it sounds ill in good men’s ears; and so I say once more, it is a good maxim to say nothing of one’s country, and to conceal sirnames, although amongst ourselves, nothing must be concealed; but now I only want to know your names. Rincon told him his, and Cortado likewise. Well then, said Monipodio, from henceforth I order, and it is my will and pleasure, that you Rincon, be called Rinconete; and you Cortado, Cortadillo; which are names suitable to your ages and our ordinances, by which we are obliged to enquire the names of the parents of our fraternity, because it is our custom to cause certain masses in the year to be said for the souls of our deceased benefactors, taking out of what we steal, some part to pay those masses; and those masses so said and paid, they say, are very profitable to those souls; and these we reckon our benefactors, the solicitor that defends us, the catchpole who gives us private intelligence, the hangman that pities us, and he, that when any of us is running through the street with the mob after him, crying out Stop thief, Stop thief, lay hold of him; he, I say, who puts himself between, and opposes himself to the violence of those that follow, saying, Let the miserable wretch alone, his fortune is bad enough, he will have chastisement enough for his fault in the other world. Our she- mates are also our benefactors, who help us strenuously at all times; as also are our fathers and mothers, who bring us into the world; and so is the notary, *007 for if he is such a one as he should be, there is scarcely any fault which he will reckon as a crime, nor any crime which will deserve correction; and for all these which I have named, our fraternity keeps every year its adversary *008 day, with the greatest pomp and solemnity we are able. In good truth, said Rinconete, (already confirmed in this name) this is a work worthy of the great and profound genius, which we have heard say signior don Monipodio is master of: But our parents are still living, yet if we should happen to outlive them, we will immediately give notice of it to this most happy mediating fraternity, that these masses which your worship speaks of, may be said for their souls, with the accustomed pomp and solemnity. So it shall be done, replied Monipodio; and calling their conductor, he said to him, Come hither Guanchelo; are the centinels set? Yes, answered the guide, (for Guanchelo was his name) there are three centinels on the look-out, and there is no fear of their taking us by surprize. Returning then to our first purpose, said Monipodio, I want to know, sons, what you are skilled in, that I may give you business and employment according to your inclinations and abilities. Rinconete answered, I understand all the cheats of games, and know how to slip a card slily aside, and have more cunning tricks than a Neapolitan. These are good beginnings, answered Monipodio, though they are but mere trifles; but the time is coming, and we shall see it too, that having half a dozen lessons built upon these foundations, I trust you will turn out a famous man in your business, and I even hope to see you a compleat master: To serve your worship and the rest of the brotherhood, answered Rinconete. And you, Cortadillo, what can you do? said Monipodio. I, answered Cortadillo, am skilled in slight of hand, as they call it, put in two, and draw five, and how to pick a pocket with dexterity. Do you know any thing more? said Monipodio. No, answered Cortadillo, I know no more, to my sorrow. Do not afflict yourself, son, replied Monipodio, for you are come to a good school, where you will not be denied, nor go out again without being very much improved in all that is necessary for you to know; and in respect to your courage, how stands it with you, children? How should it be, replied Rinconete, but very ready, and stout enough to perform any enterprize belonging to our art and business? That’s very well, replied Monipodio; but what I want to know of you also, is, that if it was needful, whether you have courage enough to endure half a dozen rackings without opening your lips, or saying, this mouth is my own? We have courage, Don Monipodio, I warrant you, cried Rinconete, for we are not such fools, but we know that what the tongue tells, the neck pays for; and it is a sufficient favour which heaven grants the bold man, (not to give it any other title) that it leaves his life or death, to depend on his own tongue. There is no need of any more at this time, said Monipodio; and, I say, this answer alone convinces, obliges, persuades, and forces me from this time forward to set you down in the elder brotherhood, and that we excuse you the noviciate year. I am of the same opinion, said one of the bravoes, and all who were present, who had heard the whole discourse, and confirmed the same; and besought Monipodio, that from that time he would admit them to enjoy the immunities and privileges of their fraternity, because their agreeable aspect, and their ready wit, deserved it all. He answered, that to give content to all, from that very minute he admitted them, letting them know that he esteemed them very much, and as a token thereof, they should not pay the quarteridge for the first half year, out of what they should steal, nor do any of the little mean offices belonging to novices, the first whole year; as carrying messages from any elder brother of the fraternity to the prison, or house, and the like; and that they should be allowed to drink unmixed wine, and to make a feast when, where, and how they pleased, without asking leave of their head, and should come in for a share from this time forward, of every thing the elder brotherhood should steal, like one of them, and other immunities; which were the greatest signs of favour, for which they returned them thanks, in the most obliging manner they were able. Whilst they were talking, a boy came running in quite out of breath, and said, The magistrate is coming this way, but he has not his officers along with him. Do not be in a fright, said Monipodio, for he is a friend, and never comes to do us any harm; stay here, I will go and speak to him: All was hush, for they were a little terrified, and Monipodio went to the door, where he found the magistrate, with whom he staid talking some time, and then returned, and asked, to whom fell the station of St. Saviour to-day? To me, said the guide. If so, replied Monipodio, how comes it to pass you did not inform me of the amber-coloured purse, which foundered this morning much about the said place, with fifteen crowns in gold, four ryals of silver, and I know not how much copper money? True it is, said the guide, that such a purse was lost, but I did not take it, neither can I imagine who has taken it. Come, come, no shams with me, replied Monipodio, the purse must be brought to light, because the magistrate requires it, who is a friend, and does us a thousand services in a year. The young man swore again, that he knew nothing of it. And Monipodio began to be in such a furious passion, that he looked as if fire darted out of his eyes, saying, Let none of you think to jest with me, or break through the least point of our orders; if he does, it shall cost him his life: Let the purse be brought forth; for if it is concealed to excuse paying the duties, I will pay that entirely myself, and place the rest to my account; for be it after what manner it will, Mr. Magistrate must not go away displeased. The young man began to swear and curse again, saying, he had not taken it, nor even so much as set his eyes upon it: All this did but add more fire to Monipodio’s choler, and put in disorder the whole assembly, seeing their statutes and good ordinances were so little regarded. Rinconete seeing so much dissention and confusion amongst them, thought it would be the best way to quiet it, and give satisfaction to his chief, who was ready to burst with anger; he advised with his friend Cortadillo, and by mutual consent he pulled out the sexton’s purse, and said, Gentlemen, let all these debates and contentions cease, for here is the purse, without the least diminution of what Mr. Magistrate speaks of, which my comrade Cortadillo got to-day, together with a handkerchief which he took from the same person for a blessing. Immediately Cortadillo pulled out the handkerchief, and shewed it to them all. Monipodio seeing this, said, Let Cortado the Good, for by that name he shall from henceforwards be known, keep the handkerchief, and the recompensing of this service shall be put to my account; the purse Mr. Magistrate must take with him, for it belongs to a sexton, a cousin of his, and it is reasonable that we should fulfil the proverb, which says, He that gives you a hen, it is not a great deal if you give him a leg of it; for this good magistrate will dissemble in our favour, more in one day, than it is in our power to recompense in a hundred. With one consent they all approved of the gentleman-like behaviour of these two novices, as also the judgment and opinion of their head, who went out to give the magistrate the purse; and Cortadillo remained confirmed in his sirname of the Good as well as if he had been called Don Alonzo Perez de Guzman *009 the Good, who throwed his knife over the walls of Tarisa, to cut off the head of his own son. But to return, when Monipodio came back, he brought in with him two young women, with their faces painted, and their breasts daubed with ceruse; they had on short veils made of sayes; they came in with so much impudence and boldness, as sufficiently convinced Rinconete and Cortadillo, they were ladies of the town, and they were not deceived; for as soon as they entered, they ran with open arms, the one to Chiquiznaque, the other to Maniferro, for so the two bullies were named: Maniferro was so called, because he had an iron hand in the room of another, which the hangman had cut off; they embraced the ladies with great joy, and asked if they had brought any thing with them to wet their throats? That shall not be wanting, my dexterous one, answered one they called Gananciosa, it will not be long ere Salvatello thy boy will come with a great basket crammed with such things as providence has been pleased to send; and this was very true, for at the same time a boy came in with a basket of wine and eatables, covered with a sheet. At Salvato’s entry every one was rejoiced, and that moment Monipodio commanded a flag mat to be brought, which was in the chamber, and spread it on the floor; he likewise ordered they should all sit down round about it, and said, when his passion was over, he would treat of what was most necessary: Then spoke the old woman that had been praying so long to the picture of the virgin Mary, Son Monipodio, I am not for feasting, for I have had a swimming in my head these two days, which makes me almost mad; and besides, I must go to my devotions before noon, and place my little candles before our lady of the waters, and before the holy crucifix of St. Augustine, and I will not neglect to do it, though it should blow, rain, and hail, as if heaven and earth would come together; and what I am come about is, that last night, the renegade and centopies brought to my house a great basket, somewhat bigger than this before me, full of linen; as I live they brought buck and all; poor souls, they had not time to rest themselves, but came in sweating such large drops, one drop following the other, that it grieved me to see them, they came so panting in! and the sweat so running down their faces! but they looked like little angels; they told me that they were going to follow a shepherd, who had been weighing some sheep in the butchery, to see if they could come at a great purse of ryals he had about him: They left the basket without counting the cloaths, trusting to my conscience; and so may God grant me my good desires, and deliver us all from the power of justice, as I have not touched the basket, and that it is as entire as when it was born.

Mother, I believe all this, answered Monipodio, and so let it be, for I will go at sun-set, and make an examination, and see what there is, and I will give to every one what belongs to him faithfully, according to my custom. Let it be as you please to order it, son, replied the old woman, and because it grows late, give me a little draught of wine to comfort my stomach, which is quite faint with fasting. You shall have some, mother, replied Escalanta, for so they called the companion of Gananciosa; and uncovering the basket, exposed to view a leather bottle, that held about six gallons, and one of cork, which might cleverly hold, and without stretching, about three pints; and taking it out, Escalanta put it into the hands of the devout old woman, who laying hold of it with both her clutches, and having blown off a little of the froth, said, Daughter Escalanta, you have given me a great quantity, but God enables us to do all things; and applying it to her lips, she pulled it off at once, without taking breath, saying, May the Lord comfort you, my daughter, as you have comforted me, only I am afraid it will do me harm, because I am fasting. It will not, mother, cried Monipodio, because it is small wine. I hope by the virgin it will not, answered the old woman; and added, See children, if any of you have a halfpenny to buy some little candles for my devotions, because I came with such haste and good-will to bring the news of the basket, that I forgot to put on my pouch. Yes, I have some, dame Pipota, (for this was the name of the good old woman) answered Gananciosa, take it, here are two half-pence, one of which I beg of you to lay out for me, and place it to St. Michael; and if you can get two, place the other to St. Blass, for they are my intercessors; I would have another placed to St. Lucia, for she is one by my eyes, for whom I have a great esteem, but I have no small money now; another day I shall, and then I will do it to them all. You will do mighty well, child, by so doing, said the old woman, and see that you are not covetous; for it is of great importance for a person himself to carry the candles before he dies, and not to stay till our heirs or administrators do it for us. Mother Pipota says well, replied Escalanta; and clapping her hands to her purse, gave her another halfpenny, and charged her to place two other little candles, to any two saints which she liked best, and who were esteemed the most serviceable and grateful. With this Pipota went away, saying, Make merry now, sons, whilst you may, for age will come, and then you will bewail that youthful time you have lost, as I do now, and recommend me to God in your prayers, for I go to do the same for myself, and for you, that he may preserve us in our dangerous business, without being surprised by justice; and with this she went away. The old woman being gone, they all sat down round the mat, and Gananciosa laid the sheet for a tablecloth. The first thing they took out of the basket, was a great bunch of radishes, with about two dozen of oranges and lemons; after that a great pot full of salted and dried cod-fish fryed and cut in pieces, and presently after a Dutch cheese, a pot of rare olives, and a plate of prawns, with a great number of crabs, with caper sauce stewed with pepper, together with three great loaves of white bread. There was at breakfast about fourteen; and there was not one of them but pulled out his yellow handled knife, except Rincon, who drew out his dagger. It fell to the two old men cloathed in bays, and the guide to serve about the wine; but as soon as they had begun to make an assault on the oranges, they were all put into a terrible fright, by a loud knocking at the door; Monipodio commanded them to be all easy and quiet; and going into the hall below, he took down a buckler, put his hand on his sword, and went to the door; and with a hoarse and frightful voice asked, Who was there? They answered from without, It is I, there is nothing the matter, Don Monipodio, I am Targarete the centry of this morning; and I am come to tell you, that here comes Juliana Cariharta with her hair all about her ears, crying bitterly, which makes me think some disaster has happened to her. By this time she came up sighing and sobbing; which Monipodio hearing, opened the door, and commanded Targarete to return to his post; and for the future, when he came to bring him any news, to do it with less noise; he answered, he would; and Cariharta came in, who was a young wench of the same occupation as the other two ladies; she came with her hair torn off her head, her face full of bumps; and as soon as she got into the house, fell down on the floor in a swoon; Gananciosa ran immediately to help her, as did also Escalanta, and opening her breast they found it all black and blue; they threw water in her face, and she came to herself again; crying out, The justice of God and the king lay hold on that thief and villain, upon that mean spirited coward, upon that nitty lousy rogue, whom I have saved from the gallows more times than he has hairs on his beard: O unhappy me! see for whom I have undone myself, and on whom I have thrown away my youth, and the flower of my age, is it not for a cheating villain, a wicked, an incorrigible wretch? Be easy, Cariharta, said Monipodio; for here am I that will do you justice; tell but your wrongs; for you will be longer in relating them, than I shall be in taking revenge; tell me if he has not paid you sufficient respect; for if it is so, and you want to be revenged, you have nothing more to do than to speak the word. What respect does he pay me, answered Juliana, you see I am hellishly respected; could a lion use sheep, or butcher a lamb worse; and shall I eat again at the same table, or lie in the same bed with him? may I rather be choaked with crooked pins, than be used in the manner you see me now. Then taking up her coat to her knees, and a little higher, she shewed several black and blue places; In this manner has the ungrateful Repolido served me, though he is more obliged to me than to his mother that bore him; and perhaps you think that my deserts merited all this: No, truly, it was no more than this, that he being at play, losing his money, sent me to Cabrilla his pimp, for thirty ryals; and he sent him but twenty-four; and heaven knows the trouble and vexation I had to get these; I beg of heaven it may be discounted for my sins; and in return of this courtesy and good deed, he, believing I had kept back some part of the money; this morning he took me into the fields behind the king’s garden, and there amongst the olive trees stripped me naked, and with his broad girdle, without pity or compassion, whipt me so, that he left me for dead, of which true history, this flesh of mine which you see, is a sufficient witness. Here she began to roar out again; here she begun to ask for justice again; and here Monipodio promised again, as did all the bullies there present. Gananciosa took her by the hand to comfort her, saying, She would give, with a very good will, any thing she had that was most valuable, that her lover had served her so; because I would have you to know, sister Cariharta, if you do not know it, those they love dearly they chastise; and when these knaves beat, whip, and kick us, then they adore us; and confess to me sincerely, did not Repolido, after he had chastised and bruised you, give you one kind word? Not only one, answered the bewailing nymph, but a hundred thousand, and would have given a finger of his hand, if I would have gone to his lodgings with him; and more, it is my belief, the very tears were coming out of his eyes after he had been beating me. There is no doubt of it, answered Gananciosa, and that he would even cry to see the pain he had put you in; for it is the nature of such sort of men, in such sort of cases, they have no sooner committed the fault, than they repent of it; and you will see, sister, that he will come to look for you, before you depart from this place, and ask pardon for what is passed, and submit himself to you as humble as a lamb. Truly, answered Monipodio, such a cowardly coxcomb shall not enter these doors, if first of all he does not make a manifest shew of his repenting the fault he has committed, in that he dared to be so bold as to lift up his hand against the face and flesh of Cariharta, being a person that for cleanliness and usefulness, may compare with Cariharta herself, who is here before us, than whom no one can be more dear to me. At which Juliana said, Don Monipodio, I beseech you, do not you say any thing against that good-for-nothing fellow, for though I have been used as I am, I love him at my very heart; for with Gananciosa’s reasoning, my soul is returned into my body, she having spoke so much in his favour; and truly I am ready to go look for him. If you will take my advice, replied Gananciosa, you shall not do so, because he will swell, and be puffed up like a drowned body upon it; be easy, sister, for you will see him in a little time come in such a repenting mood, as I have told you, and if he does not come, we will write some verses that shall sour him. That’s right, said Cariharta; for I have a thousand things to write to him. I will be the secretary, if there is an occasion, said Monipodio; and although I am nothing of a poet, yet I make account that if I tuck up my sleeves, I shall be able to make two thousand verses in the twinkling of an eye; and if they should not prove good ones, I know a barber, who is my intimate friend, and a great poet, that will give us our belly full of them at any time of the day; and now let us leave off this business till breakfast is over, and afterwards we will talk more of the matter. Juliana was willing to obey her superior, and so every one returned to their soul’s delight again, and in a little time they saw the bottom of the basket, and the dregs of the leather bottle; the old ones drank sine fine, the young ones until they were agreed, and the ladies as long as they would: The old ones asked leave to go, and Monipodio immediately granted it, charging them to come and give notice with all punctuality, of every thing that might be to the advantage, and for the good of the society. They answered that they would take especial care of that point. Rinconete being naturally inquisitive, first of all asking pardon and leave, asked Monipodio of what service to the fraternity those two grave grey-headed persons were? To which Monipodio answered, Those in our language or cant, are called Hornets, whose business it is to go daily about the city, looking out what may be stolen at night, and to follow those that receive money out of the bank, to observe where they carry it, and knowing this, to mark the house, and number of the family, and to discover the most convenient places to make holes, for the more easy entering therein; in fine, they are, said he, a people of as much, or more use, than any in the fraternity; and of all that is stolen, through their industry, they have the fifth part, as his majesty has, of the treasures; and with all this, they are men of great veracity, very honourable, of a good life and reputation, very religious and conscientious, hearing mass every day with uncommon devotion. There are some of them so courteous, especially those two that are just gone out, that they content themselves with much less than they might fairly claim, according to our list of rates. There are two others that belong to our fraternity, by profession chairmen, who, as they are every moment going into different places, are thoroughly acquainted with all the houses in the city, and which will turn out well, and which not. All these things are much to my liking, said Rinconete, and I want to be of some service to so famous a society. Heaven always favours our good desires, said Monipodio. Whilst they were talking thus, somebody knocked at the door; Monipodio went out to see who it was; and asking, they answered, Please Monipodio to open the door, for I am Repolido. Cariharta hearing the voice, lift up her’s to heaven, Pray Don Monipodio do not open the door to that Tarpeyan sailor, to that tyger of Ocana. Notwithstanding which, Monipodio opened the door to Repolido; but Cariharta seeing him opening it, got up, and ran into the hall where the bucklers were, and shutting the door after her, made a horrible bellowing within, crying out, Take this fellow out of my sight, this tormentor and oppressor of the innocent, this frighter of tame pigeons. Maniferro and Chiquiznaque held Repolido; for he at any rate would have got into the room where Cariharta was, but as they would not let him, he spoke without; Be no longer angry, my dear, I beseech you to be good- humoured again, so may you be married. I married! perverse man, answered Cariharta, look how the cat and dog agree; I know you would fain have me marry you, but I would rather be whipped to death than be wedded to you. Go, you fool, cried Repolido, let us make things easy, for it is late, and do not think to take upon you, and look big, because I speak so mildly, and am so submissive; do not raise my choler to the height, lest your second fall be worse than the first; humble yourself, and we will be all humble, and let us not give the devil any thing to dine on. But yet I would give him something for supper, said Cariharta, that is, to take you where my eyes may never see you more. I do not say so to you, said Repolido, but I will assure you, madam, I shall look out for a parcel of good sticks, and though I sell none, I will give them away by dozens. To this Monipodio said, I will have no such talk in my presence; Cariharta shall come out, not for your threatenings, but for my sake, and all things shall be made up; For the fallings out of lovers is the renewing of love: Come, Juliana, my child, my full-face, come out hither, for my sake; for I will make Repolido ask your pardon on his knees. If he will do that, said Escalanta, we shall be all on his side, and join in requesting Juliana to come out. If this is to be done by way of submission, or lessening of my person, said Repolido, I would not submit to an army of Swissars drawn up in battle array; but if it is at Cariharta’s desire, I do not only say I will kneel, but I will even drive a nail into my forehead in her service. Chiquiznaque and Maniferro laughed at this, which so much angered Repolido, thinking they had made a jest of him, that he said, with signs of excessive anger, Whosoever laughs, or thinks to laugh at Cariharta or me, or what we have said, or shall say, I say he is a liar, and lies every time he laughs, or thinks so to do. Chiquiznaque and Maniferro gave him such an ill look, as made Monipodio think, if this was not remedied, it would end but badly; and so putting himself between them, he said, Gentlemen, let these high words go no farther, and if what has been said fits no one, let no one take it to himself. We are very sure, answered Chiquiznaque, that he did not say, nor will say these words to us; for had we imagined he meant us by them, the rough music is in the hands of those who know how to play it off. Repolido bluntly answered, clapping his hand to his sword, If you are for rough music, have at you; for I think I know how to ring the chimes upon occasion; and already I have said, he that laughs, lies; and let him who thinks otherwise, follow me; for with a sword nine inches shorter than his, I will make him confess it; and saying this he went towards the door: Cariharta stood watching, and when she understood that he was going out of doors in a passion, she came out, crying, "Stop him that he may not go out; do not you see what a furious passion he is in, and he is a very Hercules for valour? Return hither, thou world’s wonder, and delight of my eyes." Then closing in with him, she laid fast hold of his cloak, and Monipodio assisting her, they held him back. Chiquiznaque and Maniferro not knowing whether they should be angry or no, said nothing, expecting what Repolido would do; who seeing himself intreated by Cariharta and Monipodio too, turned back again, saying, Friends never ought to affront friends, nor make a jest of them, especially when they see it makes them angry. There is no one here, answered Maniferro, who would provoke any friend, or make a jest of him; and we are all friends, and like friends let us give one another our hands. At this, Monipodio said, All of you have spoke like good friends, and as such shake hands together; which they did immediately; and Escalanta taking off one of her pattens, began to make a sort of rough music with it; Gananciosa took a new palm broom, which she found in the house, and with scratching it, made a sound, that though it was hoarse and rough, agreed well enough with the patten; Monipodio broke a plate into two pieces, which he put between his fingers, and ringing one against the other, made the treble to the patten and the broom: Rinconete and Cortadillo being surprized at the new invention of the broom, for till then they had never seen it, Maniferro observing it said, You are admiring the broom, she plays a good stick; music sooner made, and with less trouble, nor cheaper was never invented in the world; and I heard a student say the other day, that neither Negrofeus who fetched Orishe from hell, nor Marion who got upon the dolphin, and went to sea, as a gentleman would do upon a hired mule, nor that other great musician, who built a city with a hundred gates, and as many wickets, never invented a better kind of music, so easy to be learned, such a manner of touching it, so without keys, strings, cliffs or notes, and without any trouble of putting it in tune; and by the lord Harry, they say that an Italian in this city, who sets up for a very Hector in music, was the inventor of it. I believe it very readily, answered Rinconete; but let us listen to the performance of our musicians, for by Gananciosa’s humming, I suppose she is going to sing. And indeed it proved so, for Monipodio had begged her to sing some couplets of those which were last made for their own use: The first that began was Escalanta, who with a shrill cracked tone, sung the following:

For a red-hair’d Sevillian, the lord of my soul,

My passionate heart is burnt up to a coal.

Gananciosa sung the next:

What various desires does Cupid impart,

A swarthy-fac’d lover possesses my heart.

And presently after Monipodio making an extraordinary flourish upon the pieces of the broken plate, roared out in a hoarse voice:

All the quarrels of lovers soon end in good nature,

Tho’ their anger is great, yet their pleasure is greater.

Cariharta likewise being unwilling to be silent, took another patten, fell to dancing, and accompanied the rest singing:

Hold, angry man, forbear your bad design,

It’s your own flesh you beat, when you beat mine.

Let us sing the plain song, (I mean that without any discord) said Repolido, and let us not meddle with old stories; for what is passed, let it pass, let us talk of something else; there have been words enough to that tune. Their design was not to have left off singing so soon, had not they heard somebody knocking at the door very hastily, upon which Monipodio went out to see who it was; and the centry told him that he had spied at the end of the street, the alcalde, and before him come Tordillo and Cernicalo, neutral catchpoles. The company within hearing this, it put them in such a hurly-burly and confusion, that Cariharta and Escalanta put on their pattens the wrong way, Gananciosa dropped her broom, Monipodio his broken plate, and all the music was put in a troubled silence, Chiquiznaque was struck dumb, Repolido was astonished, and Maniferro scared out of his senses, and they all vanished, some one way, some another, climbing up the rafters and tiles to escape into the next street; never did a musket fired on a sudden, nor thunder unexpected so affright a flock of careless pigeons, as the news of the coming of the magistrate, terrified and put in a confusion this assembly of good people. The two novices, Rinconete and Cortadillo knew not what to do with themselves, and so waited quietly, expecting how this sudden storm would end, which was over, upon the centry’s returning to tell them, that the magistrate had passed by without any signs of suspicion; and whilst they were telling this to Monipodio, a young gentleman came to the door, whom Monipodio brought in with him, and commanded them to call Chiquiznaque, Maniferro, and Repolido, and not any of the rest to come down; but as Rinconete and Cortadillo had staid below in the hall, they could hear all the discourse which passed between Monipodio and the gentleman, who said to Monipodio, Why have you served me so ill, in what I trusted to you? Monipodio answered, that as yet, he did not know what was done in that affair; but there was the workman in whose charge it was, and he would give a good account of himself. Chiquiznaque came down, and Monipodio asked him if he had executed the business that was committed to him, of the fourteen slashes. *010 Which of them, answered Chiquiznaque, is it the merchant in the crossway? The same, answered the gentleman. What has passed in this affair, said Chiquiznaque, is, that as I was watching last night at the door of his house, and he came out before prayer time; coming nigh him, I took a strict survey and especial notice of his face, and found it so small, that I saw it was impossible to place so many slashes in it; finding the impracticability to comply with what was promised, and to do what I carried in my destruction; Instruction you would say, Sir, said the gentleman. I would have said so, answered Chiquiznaque; I say, seeing the narrowness of, and small quantity of his face, that it would not hold the proposed slashes; because my journey should not be in vain, I gave a fine plump-faced lacquey of his, the fourteen slashes, and those of the largest size. But, said the gentleman, I had rather you had given the master seven, than the servant fourteen; in effect, you have not complied with me as was reasonable; but no matter, the thirty ducats I left as earnest, will make no difference: I kiss your hands, gentlemen; and saying this, he took off his hat, and turned about to go away. But Monipodio laid hold on his cloak, saying, Stay, Sir, and comply with your promise; for we have complied with our’s, with a great deal of honour, and even more than we promised; there wants twenty ducats; and you, Sir, shall not stir out from hence without giving it, or a pledge that is worth it. And do you, Sir, call this complying with your word, answered the gentleman, to slash the servant, when you should have slashed the master? Sir, it answers the end very well, said Chiquiznaque; I think it is well done, do not you remember the proverb, that says, He that loves Bertram, loves his dog? Well, in what manner can you apply this proverb? replied the gentleman. Why, is it not the same, proceeded Chiquiznaque, as to say, He that hates Bertram, hates his dog? and so Bertram is the merchant, you, Sir, wish him ill, his lacquey is the dog, and the slashing the dog is slashing Bertram; and now that doubt is solved, and explains itself; for which reason there is nothing more to do, than to pay immediately, without any delay, or the least mention of abatement. This I will swear well to, added Monipodio, and you have taken it out of my mouth, friend Chiquiznaque, and all that you have said; and so, Sir, do not stand upon trifles with your servants and friends, but take my counsel, and pay what is earned; and if you please that we should give another slashing to the master, as much as his face can carry, make account that he is already under the surgeon’s hands. If you do this, answered the gentleman, I will willingly pay for both the one and the other, without any abatement. Make no more doubt of it, said Monipodio, than of being a christian; for Chiquiznaque shall mark him in such a manner, as if he had been born with it. With this security and promise, answered the gentleman, receive this gold chain in pledge of the twenty ducats owing, and of forty I offer for the slashing to come; it weighs a thousand ryals; and it may all be worked out, for I have a person in my eye to whom it will be needful before long, to give other fourteen slashes. Then he took off a chain which he wore about his neck, and gave it to Monipodio, which as to the colour and weight he saw was no deceit. Monipodio received it with a great deal of pleasure and complaisance, because he was extremely well bred; the execution was left to Chiquiznaque’s charge, who only took that night to do it. The gentleman went away very well contented, and presently after Monipodio called them that were absent, who had hid themselves in holes and corners for fear of the magistrate. All came down, and Monipodio placing himself in the midst of them, took out a memorandum book, which he carried in the hood of his cloak, and gave it to Rinconete to read, because he did not know how himself. Rinconete opened it, and in the first leaf he saw was written, a memorandum of the slashes which are to be given this week.

The first is the merchant in the cross-way, worth fifty crowns, received thirty on account; Chiquiznaque to execute it.

I do not believe, child, there is any other, said Monipodio; go on, and see where it says, a memorandum of the cudgelings or beatings. Rinconete turned over the leaf, and on another was written, a memorandum of the cudgelings *011 or bastinadoes.

The cellar man that sells clover grass, twelve bastinadoes, and those well laid on, at a crown each; received eight on account, the time allowed is six days; Maniferro to execute it.

This may be crossed out, said Maniferro; for this night I shall discharge it.

Is there any more, child? said Monipodio. Yes, there is another, answered Rinconete, which says thus, The hunch-back taylor, who goes by the name of Gold Finch, six bastinadoes heavily laid on, at the request of the lady who left the necklace; Desmochado to execute it. I wonder much, said Monipodio, that this is not discharged, without doubt, somewhat has happened to Desmochado, for it is two days past the time allowed, and he has not set a stitch in this business. I met him yesterday, said Maniferro, and he told me the hunch-back being sick, was obliged to keep within doors, which was the reason he had not executed it. This I believe to be true, said Monipodio, because I believe Desmochado to be so good a workman, that had it not been for so just an impediment, ere now he would have made an end of things of greater importance. Is there any thing more than this, my little lad? No, Sir, answered Rinconete. Well, go forward, said Monipodio, and see where it says, Memorandum of common injuries. Rinconete went forward, and found written in another leaf, Memorandum of common injuries; that is to say, Blows *012 over the face with viols full of ink, nailing of San Benitos and horns at people’s doors, jeerings and scoffings, frightening folks, etc. What does it say underneath? said Monipodio. It says, replied Rinconete, Anointings with the oil of juniper in the house of- Do not mention the house; for I already know where it is, replied Monipodio, for I am the manager of these trifling things; and there are already given, on account, four crowns, the whole is eight. It is very true, said Rinconete, for this is all written here; and a little below it says, Nailing of horns at- Do not read, said Monipodio, the house or where, for it is enough to do the wrong, without telling it publicly; and it is a great load to the conscience, at least, I had rather nail a hundred horns, *013 and as many San Benitos, *014 so that they pay me for my trouble, rather than tell it once, although it was to the mother that bore me. The executor of this, said Rinconete, is Nariguetta. This is already done, and paid for, said Monipodio; see if there is any thing more; and if my memory fails me not, there should be a memorandum of a fright, of twenty crowns, half is already paid; the whole community are to execute it, the time allowed, is the remainder of this present month; it must be punctually complied without failing a tittle; and it will be one of the best things of this sort, that has happened in this city for many years. Give me the book, young man, for I know there is no more, and I know also that our business is very dead at present; but after this time another will come, and there will be more to do than we care for; for a leaf does not move without the will of God, and we do not oblige people to revenge themselves by force of any one; but the worst is, every man is valiant in his own cause, and is not willing to pay for the workmanship of the work, if he can do it with his own hands. It is very true, said Repolido; but pray Don Monipodio, see what orders you have to give us; for it grows late, and the heat comes on us apace. Observe your orders, gentlemen, said Monipodio; you are all to repair to your posts, and let no one stir from them till Sunday; for we will meet together then, at this very place, and will divide amongst us what we get, without defrauding any one. To Rinconete the Good, and Cortadillo, I give you for your district until Sunday, from the golden tower out of the city, to the gate of the castle, where you may exercise your art; for I have seen others of less abilities than you, go off with twenty ryals a day in small money, besides silver, with one pack of cards only. This district Salvato will shew you; and although you should extend yourself unto St. Sebastian and St. Elmo, it is not much matter, although it is a rule amongst us, that no one must meddle with what does not belong to him. The two novices kissed his hand for the favour he had shewed them, promising to do their business well and faithfully, with all diligence and circumspection. With this Monipodio drew a folded paper out of the hood of his cloak, which contained a list of the fraternity; and said to Rinconete, Put your name there, as likewise that of Cortadillo; but because there was no inkhorn, he gave them the paper, that they might take it with them, and write their names at the first apothecary’s shop they should come to, setting down Rinconete and Cortadillo brothers, no noviceship, Rinconete a cheat, Cortadillo a cut- purse, the day of the month, and the year, without saying any thing of fathers or country. Whilst they were talking thus, one of the old hornets came in, and said, I am come to tell you, gentlemen, that just now I met with Lobillo of Malaga, and he tells me, that he comes improved in his art, to so great a degree, that with clean cards, he can cheat Satan himself; and because he is but in a shabby condition, he does not come immediately to register himself, and pay his usual obedience, but on Sunday he will be here without fail. I always thought, said Monipodio, that this Lobillo would be an excellent proficient in his art, because he has the best, and most accommodate hands for that business any man could desire; for to be a good workman in one’s business, it is as necessary to have good instruments to work with, as a good genius to learn it. I likewise met, said the old hornet, in one of the inns in the Dyer’s-street, the Jew in the habit of a clergyman, who went to lodge there, having learned that two Peruvians lodged therein, and he had a mind to see, if he could not clinch them in play, although but for a small matter, that there might something come of it; he also says, on Sunday, without fail, he will join us, and give account of himself. This Jew also, said Monipodio, is a keen hawk, and has a great deal of knowledge; it is a long time since I have seen him, and he does not do well; but if he does not mend, I shall unfrock him, and let all the world know, the thief is no more in orders than a Turk, and knows no more Latin than my mother. Is there any more news? No, answered the old hornet, at least that I know of. Well, may it be in a good hour, said Monipodio, you, gentlemen, take this money, and divide it amongst you all; there’s forty ryals, and let no one be absent on Sunday. They all returned him their thanks, and turned to embrace each other. Repolido with Cariharta, Escalanta with Maniferro, and Gananciosa with Chiquiznaque, agreeing that at night, after they had done the work of the house, they would go to dame Pipota’s; where also Monipodio said, he would go to register the basket of linen; but that first he must execute the anointing with the oil of juniper. He embraced Rinconete and Cortadillo; and giving them his blessing, sent them away, charging them never to stay long in a place; for that would be to their disadvantage. Salvato accompanied them, to shew them their posts, putting them in mind not to be absent on Sunday, because he believed Monipodio was to read a lecture on their art; with this he went away, leaving the two companions in admiration at what they had seen. Rinconete, though but a boy, had very good natural parts; and as he had assisted his father in distributing the pope’s bulls, he knew something of good language, and could not forbear laughing to think of the words which he had heard from Monipodio, and the rest of that blessed community; how they brought out Adversary for Anniversary, and how Cariharta said that Repolido was a Tarpeyan sailor, and a tiger of Ocana, instead of Hyrcania, with a thousand other impertinencies, especially when she said that the trouble she had to get the twenty-four ryals, she hoped might be discounted by heaven for her sins. He admired much at other things of the like nature; and above all, the security they were in, and the confidence they had of their going to heaven; their strictness and constancy at divine worship, when they were so full of thefts, homicides and offences against God; and he laughed to think of the good old woman Pipota, who left the basket of stolen linen under care in her house, and went to place little candles to the saints; and with this she thought to go to heaven, without peeping into purgatory: He was no less astonished at the obedience and respect all of them paid Monipodio, being a clownish, cruel, and wicked fellow; he considered what he had read in his memorandum book, and the barbarous employment they all followed: Lastly, he exaggerated the carelessness of the magistrates of that famous city of Seville, for suffering such an inhuman and pernicious set of people, almost publicly, and he proposed to advise his companion, not to stay long in so wicked and dissolute a company; however, being carried away by his youth and little experience, he staid with them some months, in which time there happened things which would fill a large volume; and so I leave him for another opportunity, to tell of his life and actions, with those of his master Monipodio, and other adventures in that infamous academy; all which are worthy of consideration, and may serve as an example and advice to the reader.



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Miguel de Cervantes

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Chicago: Miguel de Cervantes, "The Comical History of Rincon and Cortado," The Comical History of Rincon and Cortado Original Sources, accessed July 22, 2024,

MLA: de Cervantes, Miguel. "The Comical History of Rincon and Cortado." The Comical History of Rincon and Cortado, Original Sources. 22 Jul. 2024.

Harvard: de Cervantes, M, 'The Comical History of Rincon and Cortado' in The Comical History of Rincon and Cortado. Original Sources, retrieved 22 July 2024, from