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The History of Don Quixote de la Mancha

The Life of Gines de Passamonte


Behind

all these came a man about thirty years of age, of a goodly aspect, only that his eyes looked at each other. Don Quixote asked why this man was fettered so much more than the rest. The guard answered, because he alone had committed more crimes than all the rest together; and that he was so bold and desperate a villain that, although shackled in that manner, they were not secure of him, but were still afraid he would make his escape. "What kind of villanies has he committed?" said Don Quixote. "He goes for ten years," said the guard, "which is a kind of civil death. You need only be told that this honest gentleman is the famous Gines de Passamonte, alias Ginesillo de Parapilla." "Fair and softly, signor commissary," interrupted the slave. "Let us not now be spinning out names and surnames. Gines is my name, and not Ginesillo; and Passamonte is the name of my family, and not Parapilla, as you say?" "Are you not so called, lying rascal?" said the guard. "Yes," answered Gines; "but I will make them cease calling me so, or I will flay them where I care not at present to say. Signor Cavalier," continued he, "if you have anything to give us, let us have it now, and God be with you; for you tire us with inquiring so much after other men's lives. If you would know mine, I am Gines de Passamonte, whose life is written by these very fingers." "He says true," said the commissary; "for he himself has written his own history as well as heart could wish, and has left the book in prison pawned
for two hundred reals." "Ay, and I intend to redeem it," said Gines, "if it lay for two hundred ducats." "What, is it so good?" said Don Quixote. "So good," answered Gines, "that woe be to Lazarillo de Tormes, and to all that have written or shall write in that way. What I can affirm is, that it relates truths, and truths so ingenious and entertaining that no fiction can equal them." "What is the title of your book?" demanded Don Quixote. "The Life of Gines de Passamonte," replied Gines himself. "And is it finished?" quoth Don Quixote. "How can it be finished?" answered he, "since my life is not yet finished?" "You seem to be an ingenious fellow," said Don Quixote. "And an unfortunate one," answered Gines; "but misfortunes always persecute genius."

The commissary lifted up his staff to strike Passamonte, in return for his threats; but Don Quixote interposed, and desired he would not illtreat him, since it was but fair that he who had his hands so tied up should have his tongue a little at liberty. After questioning several more in a similar fashion, the Don thus addressed the company: "From all you have told me, dearest brethren, I clearly gather that, although it be only the punishment of your crimes, you do not much relish what you are to suffer, and that you go to it with ill-will, and much against your inclination. Now this being the case, my mind prompts me to manifest in you the purpose for which heaven cast me into the world, and ordained me to profess the order of chivalry, which I do profess, and the vow I thereby made to succour the needy and those oppressed by the powerful; for it seems to me a hard case to make slaves of those whom God and nature made free." "This is pleasant fooling," answered the commissary. "An admirable conceit he has hit upon at last! Go on your way, signor, and give us no more of your meddling impertinence." "Insulting scoundrel!" answered Don Quixote; and thereupon, with a word and a blow, he attacked him so suddenly that, before he could stand upon his defence, he threw him to the ground, much wounded with a thrust of the lance. The rest of the guards were astonished and confounded at the unexpected encounter; and the galley-slaves seized the opportunity now offered to them of recovering their liberty, by breaking the chain with which they were linked together. The confusion was such that the guards could do nothing to any purpose. Sancho, for his part, assisted in releasing Gines de Passamonte; who, attacking the commissary, took away his sword and his gun, by levelling which first at one, then at another, he cleared the field of all the guard.


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