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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Lope de Vega (1562–1635)

The Demoniac


A Street.


Gil.No, master wiseacre, you had better not engage in a contest with me; you would be sure to get the worst of it.

Pas.Silence, fool! I contest with you? Your wits are far from great enough to tempt me to match mine against them. Everything you say is as complete folly as ever I heard in my life.

Gil.Folly, it seems to you? Listen to me. Suppose, for the sake of argument, that I am a hunter, have my musket slung across my back, and come across country to an inn. Seven sparrows are sitting on the roof of the inn. I take aim and kill two. How many remain?

Pas.A question, forsooth, to puzzle wiser heads. If there were seven sparrows to begin with, and two are killed, five remain. Surely that’s clear!

Gil.Now I’ll show you what an ass you are. If I kill two with my musket, the other five fly off. That’s clear as day!

Pas.To be sure!

Gil.Hence none remain.

Pas.I grant that I’m beaten.

Enter PEDRO.
Gil.Do you see that fellow coming up here? We had better go, for the devil walks abroad.(Exeunt.)

Pedro.Thank Heaven they are gone. I can hardly step out into the street without meeting these enemies of my heart; for that they are. It is their master’s daughter who, fair as an angel, so fills my soul that I may neither eat nor sleep, but ever like a rocket ascend athwart the sky. It is her wish to speak to me at this hour. Hist! hist, lady!

Ines.(at a window).Who is there?

Pedro.Who could it be but I—I, whose soul is steeped in adoration of the divine beauty of your eyes!

Ines.Leave compliments aside, and never cross the street again. My father and my brothers have become aware of the way you haunt our house, and it has caused me great annoyance. Therefore, go! Good luck to you, but never return.

Pedro.Is this possible, sweet lady? Can you drive me away thus? I must return! Leave me not so forsaken in the world!

Ines.But what would you have me do? Speak softly, at least, for my father is at home. I have told you—there is no hope left for you.

Pedro.For the blessed saints’ sake, I beg you, listen to a few words! That much grace, at least, I deserve.

Ines.Well, you must be quick, and not keep me long. My father may come in at any moment.

Pedro.If you will accede to the request I am about to make, I hope to gain entrance to your house by such means that your father himself will introduce me there.

Ines.Let me hear your plan. If it is such that my reputation shall suffer no harm by it, I will gladly help you.

Pedro.Listen, then. You know that recently an exorcist arrived in town—that is to say, one who bans or exorcises demons. In order, now, to gain our end, you have nothing more to do than to behave like one possessed by an evil spirit. The rest you may leave to me. As soon as your condition is observed, the exorcist will be sent for, whose role I will assume.

Ines.Heavens! sir, I am to be possessed?

Pedro.Not at all! You are merely to behave as though you were.

Ines.If that is indeed all, I am quite willing to do it.

Pedro.But be very careful not to appear too mad. Only talk somewhat wildly; call upon Venus and Jove; say that you can fly toward heaven; dance, run about, and beat the servants.

Ines.I understand, and I’ll begin at once.

Pedro.I am the happiest of men. By hitting upon this plan I shall gain the happiness for which I have so long waited in vain.

A Room in SARMIENTO’S House.

INES runs in, behaving as if mad. Behind her come SARMIENTO, GIL, and PASCUAL.

Ines.Come, Venus, Mars, Apollo, Saturn, Jove, Minerva! Do you not recognize me, your sovereign queen? Hither, you dogs! And you, old fellows, come here and answer me! It was you who drove the devil into me!(To GIL).Away with you, shameless fool! Do not come near me!(She gives GIL a box on the ear).

Gil.Oh! oh!

Sar.But what is the meaning of all this? What can be the matter with my daughter?

Pas.Sir, she is possessed of a demon. That seems clear as day. Everything she says and does points to that.

Sar.Come here! Which of you knows where the exorcist lives who recently came here?

Gil.I know, sir.

Sar.Then hurry off to him, summon him, or, if possible, bring him, for we have urgent need of him.

Gil.I hasten.(Exit.)

Ines.I would fly into the air! Toward heaven—toward heaven!

Sar.Be quiet, daughter; do not frighten me so.

Ines.Out upon you, you pack of thieves, you despoilers of my felicity! Do not torture my soul! Let me follow the happiness that you would keep from me!

Enter GIL with PEDRO, who is disguised as an exorcist.
Pedro.Where is mulier, who has dæmonios in corpore suo?

Sar.Good exorcist, you are heartily welcome! I pray you, for God’s sake, to heal my daughter.

Ines.Oh, thou delight of mine eyes! Do thou come, and do as thou hast said.

Pedro.Take note! that is the devil speaking in her, to whom it is necessary to reply in similar fashion.—Yes, thou beloved of my soul, I come! I come! If thou will it, remain but true to thy promise. I am faithful even unto death!—Now, however, in order to bring about a cure, it is necessary that all present blindfold themselves. For it is a rule of Aristotle: Nihil baccum cum ataro.

Sar.Quick, you fellows, bind your eyes!

(All blindfold themselves.)
Pedro.Dæmonius maledictus, quæ intrabit corpore mulier, et tentabit this woman, exi, get out!

Gil.Open your mouth, mistress! He wants to tear out the devil.

Pedro.Silence, beast! Let me perform my office, and do not disturb me.

Sar.Away with you, rascal! Do not interrupt the gentleman in his business.

Pedro.By the power I have over you, I exorcise you, and command you to leave the body of this maiden forthwith!

Ines.Oh! Oh!

Pedro.Silence! Silence! There comes the demon out of her body. Do you not see him?

Gil.To be sure! He almost knocked me down.

Sar.Into whom did the demon pass?

Gil.Into the Great Mogul.

Pedro.So far has the cure been effected. The devil has been driven forth. But in order that your daughter be entirely made whole, it is necessary that I remain here for a space of twenty or thirty days; for she is still weak and exhausted, and for that reason likewise needs strengthening food.

Sar.Upon my faith, sir, could I have my way, you should not remain thirty days, but as many months in my house.—You servants, bring my daughter something to eat, and carry out all the commands of this gentleman as though they were my own.—Now, sir, come to the refectory, and let me entertain you as befits your great service to us.(Exeunt SARMIENTO, PEDRO, and INES.)

Gil.But tell me, does one feed those who are possessed?

Pas.Why, don’t you understand that, idiot? They are fed because the tortures of the possessing demon weaken and emaciate them.

Gil.Well, then, if they are fed that way, devil take me but I’ll be possessed too!

Pas.What do you say, fool?

Gil.Mind your own business! Haven’t I as good a right to be possessed as any one else? Watch me: I’ll come tearing in, too, and call Venus, Mars, Apollo, Jupiter!

Pas.For my part you may do it, and I’ll even promise not to betray you—on one condition: that you give me half of all you get.

Gil.Be it so! Come on!(Exit).

Pas.No, you go first; I’ll stay here. A droll idea that the fool has hit upon!

Enter PEDRO.
Pedro.Can mortal man be happier than I?

Pas.Well, sir, how is my mistress?

Pedro.Far better and much calmer.

Gil.(screams behind the scenes).To heaven, to heaven I must fly! There are only two miles more!

Pedro.What’s that?

Pas.Since you ask me, sir, I’ll tell you. This silly fellow, Gil, heard that, since our mistress is possessed, she is to be well fed, and so he feigns to be equally afflicted, in the hope of similar fare. He made a fool of me to-day. Here is my chance of revenge.

Pedro.Just leave him to me. I’ll play a trick on him that he’ll remember long. Bring me a stick and a rope, and then leave me alone with him.

Pas.Good!(He brings the desired things, and goes.)

Gil.(runs in wildly).Venus, Jupiter, Apollo! Do you not recognize in me him who must beat you all?

Pedro.Ah, accursed demon, what would you?

Gil.Food, sir, food!

Pedro.Kiss the cross, accursed demon!

Gil.Nay, I am a devil who flies out only at the sight of a piled-up dish of cabbage and turnips.

Pedro.Quot legiones!

Gil.Things baked and roasted and boiled; chickens and patties in legions!

Pedro.Dog of a demon, I know you! Kneel! I will punish you as you deserve.(GIL kneels, and PEDRO binds his hands).Dæmonius quod petis? What would you?

Gil.Food! Food!

Pedro.Nay, because you tempted poor Benito recently, you shall fast for thirty days.

Gil.Are you in your right mind, master exorcist? I believe you have too much wine in your head.

Pedro.Nothing can shake my determination. You must fast for a month!

Gil.But listen to reason! I am not possessed at all.

Pedro.Nay, vile devil, you cannot escape my power by such tricks. What would you?


Pedro.Food? Well, here you have something to satisfy you!(He beats him with the stick. Then exit.)

Pas.(enters).Let me see how Gil is faring, and whether the exorcist has healed him.—But here he is! Why, how now, Gil? You are bound!

Gil.Yes, they bound me because I ate too much. I have eaten so much that I could not swallow another bite. But, for Heaven’s sake, free me from these bonds!

Pas.So! Now let’s be off!

Gil.No, not yet. First I must give you the half of what I received.

Pas.Let be! You may have both halves. I give you my share.

Gil.Oh, no! I’ll stand by the agreement!(GIL flogs PASCUAL)