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

Pedro Calderón de la Barca (1600–1681)

The Mayor of Zalamea: Act I

CHARACTERS: PEDRO CRESPO, subsequently Mayor of Zalamea; JUAN, his Son; ISABEL, his Daughter; INES, his Niece; DON LOPE, Commander; DON ALVARO, Captain; DON MENDO, Nobleman; NUNO, his Servant; A SERGEANT; REBOLLEDO, a Soldier; CHISPA, his Mistress.

SCENE I.Country near Zalamea.


Reb.Confound, say I, these forced marches from place to place, without halt or bait. What say you, friends?


Reb.To be trailed over the country like a pack of gipsies, after a little scrap of flag upon a pole, eh?

1st Sold.Rebolledo’s off!

Reb.And that infernal drum, which has at last been good enough to stop a moment stunning us.

2d Sold.Come, come, Rebolledo, don’t storm; we shall soon be at Zalamea.

Reb.And where will be the good of that if I’m dead before I get there? And if not, ’twill only be from bad to worse: for if we all reach the place alive, as sure as death up comes Mr. Mayor to persuade the commissary we had better march on to the next town. At first Mr. Commissary replies very virtuously, “Impossible! The men are fagged to death.” But after a little pocket persuasion, then it’s all “Gentlemen, I’m very sorry; but orders have come for us to march forward, and immediately.” And away we have to trot, foot-weary, dust-bedraggled, and starved as we are. Well, I swear if I do get alive to Zalamea to-day, I’ll not leave it on this side o’ sunrise for love, lash, or money. It won’t be the first time in my life I’ve given ’em the slip.

1st Sold.Nor the first time a poor fellow has had the slip given him for doing so. And more likely than ever, now that Don Lope de Figuerroa has taken the command. A fine, brave fellow they say, but a devil of a Tartar, who’ll have every inch of duty done, or take the change out of his own son, without waiting for trial either.

Reb.Listen to this now, gentlemen! By Heaven, I’ll be beforehand with him!

2d Sold.Come, come, a soldier shouldn’t talk so.

Reb.I tell you it isn’t for myself I care so much, as for this poor little thing that follows me.

Chis.Master Rebolledo, don’t you fret about me. You know I was born with a beard on my heart, if not on my chin, if ever girl was; and your fearing for me is as bad as if I were afraid myself. Why, when I came along with you I made up my mind to hardship and danger for honor’s sake; else, if I’d wanted to live in clover, I never should have left the alderman who kept such a table as all aldermen don’t, I promise you. Well, what’s the odds? I chose to leave him and follow the drum, and here I am, and if I don’t flinch, why should you?

Reb.’Fore Heaven, you’re the crown of womankind!

Solds.So she is! so she is! Long live Chispa!

Reb.And so she is, and one cheer more for her. Hurrah! Especially if she’ll give us a song to lighten the way.

Chis.The castanet shall answer for me.

Reb.I’ll join in; and do you, comrades, bear a hand in the chorus.

Solds.Fire away!

  • CHISPA sings.
  • “Titiri tin, marching is weary;
  • Weary, weary, and long is the way.
  • Titiri tiri, hither, my deary—
  • What meat have you got for the soldier to-day?”
  • “Meat have I none, my merry men.”
  • “Titiri tiri, then kill the old hen.”
  • “Alas and a day! the old hen is dead!”
  • “Then give us a cake from the oven instead.
  • Titiri titiri titiri tiri,
  • Give us a cake from the oven instead.”
  • “Admiral, admiral, where have you been-a?”
  • “I’ve been fighting where the waves roar.”
  • “Ensign, ensign, what have you seen-a?”
  • “Glory and honor and gunshot galore
  • Fighting the Moors in column and line.
  • Poor fellows, they never hurt me or mine—
  • Titiri titiri titiri tina.”
  • 1st Sold.Look, look, comrades! What between singing and grumbling we never noticed yonder church among the trees.

    Reb.Is that Zalamea?

    Chis.Yes, that it is; I know the steeple. Hurrah! We’ll finish the song when we get into quarters, or have another as good; for you know I have ’em of all sorts and sizes.

    Reb.Stop a moment, here’s the sergeant.

    2d Sold.And the captain too.

    Alv.Good news, gentlemen: no more marching, for to-day at least. We halt at Zalamea till Don Lope joins with the rest of the regiment from Llerena. So, who knows but you may have several days’ rest here?

    Reb. and Solds.Huzzah for our captain!

    Alv.Your quarters are ready, and the commissary will give every one his billet on marching in.

    Chis.(singing).Now, then, for

  • “Titiri tiri, hither, my deary—
  • Heat the oven and kill the old hen.”
  • (Exit, with SOLDIERS.)

    Alv.Well, Sergeant, have you my billet?

    Serg.Yes, sir.

    Alv.And where am I to put up?

    Serg.With the richest man in Zalamea, a farmer, as proud as Lucifer’s heir-apparent.

    Alv.Ah! the old story of an upstart.

    Serg.However, sir, you have the best quarters in the place, including his daughter, who is, they say, the prettiest woman in Zalamea.

    Alv.Pooh! a pretty peasant! Splay hands and feet!

    Serg.Shame! Shame!

    Alv.Isn’t it true, puppy?

    Alv.What would a man on march have better than a pretty country lass to toy with?

    Alv.Well, I never saw one I cared for, even on march I can’t call a woman a woman unless she’s clean about the hands and fetlocks, and otherwise well appointed—a lady, in short.

    Serg.Well, any one for me who’ll let me kiss her. Come, sir, let us be going, for if you won’t be at her, I will.

    Alv.Look, look, yonder!

    Serg.Why, it must be Don Quixote himself, with his very Rosinante, too, that Cervantes writes of.

    Alv.And his Sancho at his side. Well, do you carry my kit on before to quarters, and then come and tell me when all’s ready.(Exeunt.)

    SCENE II.Zalamea, before CRESPO’S House.

    Men.How’s the gray horse?

    Nun.You may as well call him the dun; so screw’d he can’t move a leg.

    Men.Did you have him walked gently about?

    Nun.Walked about? when it’s corn he wants, poor devil?

    Men.And the dogs?

    Nun.Ah, now, they might do, if you’d give them the horse to eat.

    Men.Enough, enough! it has struck three. My gloves and toothpick.

    Nun.That sinecure toothpick!

    Men.I tell you I would brain anybody who insinuated to me I had not dined—and on game too. But tell me, Nuño, haven’t the soldiers come into Zalamea this afternoon?

    Nun.Yes, sir.

    Men.What a nuisance for the commonalty who have to quarter them!

    Nun.But worse for those who haven’t.

    Men.What do you mean, sir?

    Nun.I mean the squires. Ah, sir, if the soldiers aren’t billeted on them, do you know why?

    Men.Well, why?

    Nun.For fear of being starved—which would be a bad job for the king’s service.

    Men.God rest my father’s soul, says I, who left me a pedigree and patent all blazoned in gold and azure, that exempts me from such impositions!

    Nun.I wish he’d left you the gold in a more available shape, however.

    Men.Though, indeed, when I come to think of it, I don’t know if I owe him any thanks; considering that unless he had consented to beget me a nobleman at once, I wouldn’t have been born at all, for him or any one.

    Nun.Humph! Could you have helped it?


    Nun.How, sir?

    Men.You must know that every one that is born is the essence of the food his parents eat.

    Nun.Oh! Your parents did eat, then, sir? You have not inherited that of them, at all events.

    Men.Which forthwith converts itself into proper flesh and blood; ergo, if my father had been an eater of onions, for instance, he would have begotten me with a strong breath; on which I should have said to him, “Hold! I must come of no such nastiness as that, I promise you.”

    Nun.Ah! now I see the old saying is true.

    Men.What is that?

    Nun.That hunger sharpens wit.

    Men.Knave, do you insinuate——

    Nun.I only know it is now three o’clock, and we have neither of us yet had anything but our own spittle to chew.

    Men.Perhaps so, but there are distinctions of rank. A nobleman, sir, has no belly.

    Nun.Oh, Lord! that I were a nobleman!

    Men.Possibly. Servants must learn moderation in all things. But let me hear no more of the matter; we are under Isabel’s window.

    Nun.There again: if you are so devoted an admirer, why on earth, sir, don’t you ask her in marriage of her father? By doing so you would kill two birds with one stone: get yourself something to eat, and his grandchildren squires.

    Men.Hold your tongue, sir! it is impious. Am I, a nobleman with such a pedigree, to demean myself with a plebeian connection just for money’s sake?

    Nun.Well, I’ve always heard say a mean father-in-law is best. Better stumble on a pebble than run your head against a post. But, however, if you don’t mean marriage, sir, what do you mean?

    Men.And pray, sir, can’t I dispose of her in a convent in case I get tired of her? But go directly, and tell me if you can get a sight of her.

    Nun.I’m afraid lest her father should get a sight of me.

    Men.And what if he do, being my man? Go and do as I bid you.

    Nun.(after going to look).Come, sir, you owe one meal at least now. She’s at the window, with her cousin.

    Men.Go again, and tell her something about her window being another East, and she a second Sun dawning from it in the afternoon.(ISABEL and INES come to the window.)

    Ines.For Heaven’s sake, cousin, let’s stand here and see the soldiers march in.

    Isab.Not I, while that man is in the way, Ines. You know how I hate the sight of him.

    Ines.With all his devotion to you?

    Isab.I wish he would spare himself and me the trouble.

    Ines.I think you are wrong to take it as an affront.

    Isab.How would you have me take it?

    Ines.Why, as a compliment.

    Isab.What, when I hate the man?

    Men.Ah! ’pon the honor of a nobleman, which is a sacred oath, I could have sworn that till this moment the sun had not risen. But why should I wonder, when, indeed, a second Aurora——

    Isab.Don Mendo, how often have I told you not to waste your time playing these fool’s antics before my window day after day?

    Men.If a pretty woman only knew how anger improved her beauty! Her complexion needs no other paint than indignation. Go on, go on, lovely one, grow angrier, and lovelier still!

    Isab.You sha’n’t have even that consolation. Come, Ines.(Exit).

    Ines.Beware of the portcullis, sir knight.(Shuts down the blind in his face.)

    Men.Ines, beauty must be ever victorious, whether advancing or in retreat.

    Enter CRESPO.
    Cres.That I can never go in or out of my house without that squireen haunting it!

    Nun.Pedro Crespo, sir!

    Men.Oh! Ah! Let us turn another way. ’Tis an ill-conditioned fellow.

    As he turns, enter JUAN.
    Juan.That I never can come home but this ghost of a Mendo is there to spoil my appetite.

    Nun.His son, sir!

    Men.He’s worse.(Turning back.)Oh, Pedro Crespo, good day. Crespo, good man, good day.(Exit with NUNO.)

    Cres.Good day, indeed! I’ll make it bad day one of these days with you, if you don’t take care. But how now, Juanito, my boy?

    Juan.I was looking for you, sir, but could not find you. Where have you been?


  • To the barn, where high and dry
  • The jolly sheaves of corn do lie,
  • Which the sun, arch-chemist old,
  • Turn’d from black earth into gold,
  • And the swinging flail one day
  • On the barn-floor shall assay,
  • Separating the pure ore
  • From the drossy chaff away.
  • This I’ve been about. And now,
  • Juanito, what hast thou?
  • Juan.Alas, sir, I can’t answer in so good rime or reason. I have been playing at fives, and lost every bout.

    Cres.What signifies if you paid?

    Juan.But I could not, and have come to you for the money.


  • Before I give it you, listen to me:
  • There are things two
  • Thou never must do:
  • Swear to more than thou knowest,
  • Play for more than thou owest;
  • And never mind cost,
  • So credit’s not lost.
  • Juan.Good advice, sir, no doubt, that I shall lay by for its own sake as well as for yours. Meanwhile, I have also heard say:

  • Preach not to a beggar till
  • The beggar’s empty hide you fill.
  • Cres.’Fore Heaven, thou pay’st me in my own coin. But——

    Enter SERGEANT.
    Serg.Pray, does one Pedro Crespo live hereabout?

    Cres.Have you any commands for him if he does?

    Serg.Yes, to tell him of the arrival of Don Alvaro de Ataide, captain of the troop that has just marched into Zalamea, and quartered upon him.

    Cres.Say no more. My house and all I have is ever at the service of the king, and of all who have authority under him. If you leave his things here, I will see his room is got ready directly; and do you tell his Honor that, come when he will, he shall find me and mine at his service.

    Serg.Good! He will be here directly.(Exit.)

    Juan.I wonder, father, that, rich as you are, you still submit yourself to these nuisances.

    Cres.Why, boy, how could I help them?

    Juan.You know: by buying a patent of gentility.

    Cres.A patent of gentility! Upon thy life, now, dost think there’s a soul who doesn’t know that I’m no gentleman at all, but just a plain farmer? What’s the use of my buying a patent of gentility, if I can’t buy the gentle blood along with it? Will any one think me a bit more of a gentleman for buying fifty patents? Not a whit! I should only prove I was worth so many thousand royals, not that I had gentle blood in my veins, which can’t be bought at any price. If a fellow’s been bald ever so long, and buys him a fine wig and claps it on, will his neighbors think it is his own hair a bit the more? No; they will say, “So-and-So has a fine wig, and, what’s more, he must have paid handsomely for it too.” But they know his bald pate is safe under it all the while. That’s all he gets by it.

    Juan.Nay, sir, he gets to look younger and handsomer, and keeps off sun and cold.

    Cres.Tut! I’ll have none of your wig honor at any price. My grandfather was a farmer, so was my father, so is yours, and so shall you be after him. Go, call your sister.

    Enter ISABEL and INES.
    Oh, here she is. Daughter, our gracious king—whose life God save these thousand years!—is on his way to be crowned at Lisbon. Thither the troops are marching from all quarters, and among others that fine veteran Flanders regiment, commanded by the famous Don Lope de Figuerroa, will march into Zalamea, and be quartered here to-day—some of the soldiers in my house. Is it not as well you should be out of the way?

    Isab.Sir, ’twas upon this very errand I came to you, knowing what nonsense I shall have to hear if I stay below. My cousin and I can go up to the garret, and there keep so close, the very sun shall not know of our whereabout.

    Cres.That’s my good girl. Juanito, you wait here to receive them in case they come while I am out looking after their entertainment.

    Isab.Come, Ines.

    Ines.Very well——

  • Though I’ve heard in a song what folly ’twould be
  • To try keep in a loft what won’t keep on the tree.
  • (Exeunt.)

    Serg.This is the house, sir.

    Alv.Is my kit come?

    Serg.Yes, sir, and(aside)I’ll be the first to take an inventory of the pretty daughter.(Exit.)

    Juan.Welcome, sir, to our house. We count it a great honor to have such a cavalier as yourself for a guest, I assure you.(Aside.)What a fine fellow! What an air! I long to try the uniform, somehow.

    Alv.Thank you, my lad.

    Juan.You must forgive our poor house, which we devoutly wish was a palace for your sake. My father is gone after your supper, sir. May I go and see that your chamber is got ready for you?

    Alv.Thank you! thank you!

    Juan.Your servant, sir.(Exit.)

    Enter SERGEANT.
    Alv.Well, sergeant, where’s the Dulcinea you told me of?

    Serg.Deuce take me, sir, if I haven’t been looking everywhere, in parlor, bedroom, kitchen, and scullery, up-stairs and down-stairs, and can’t find her out.

    Alv.Oh, no doubt the old fellow has hid her away for fear of us.

    Serg.Yes, I asked a serving-wench, and she confessed her master had locked the girl up in the attic, with strict orders not even to look out so long as we were in the place.

    Alv.Ah! these clodpoles are all so jealous of the service. And what is the upshot? Why, I, who didn’t care a pin to see her before, shall never rest till I get at her now.

    Serg.But how, without a blow-up?

    Alv.Let me see—how shall we manage it?

    Serg.The more difficult the enterprise, the more glory in success, you know, in love as in war.

    Alv.I have it!

    Serg.Well, sir?

    Alv.You shall pretend— But no, here comes one will serve my turn better.

    Reb.(to CHISPA).There he is. Now, if I can get him into a good humor——

    Chis.Speak up, then, like a man.

    Reb.I wish I’d some of your courage. But don’t you leave me while I tackle him. Please your Honor——

    Alv.(to SERGEANT).I tell you I’ve my eye on Rebolledo to do him a good turn. I like his spirit.

    Serg.Ah, he’s one of a thousand.

    Reb.(aside).Here’s luck! Please your Honor——

    Alv.Oh, Rebolledo. Well, Rebolledo, what is it?

    Reb.You may know I am a gentleman who has, by ill luck, lost all his estate—all that ever I had, have, shall have, may have, or can have, through all the conjugation of the verb “to have.” And I want your Honor——


    Reb.To desire the ensign to appoint me roulette-master to the regiment, so I may pay my liabilities like a man of honor.

    Alv.Quite right! Quite right! I will see it done.

    Chis.Oh, brave captain! Oh, if I only live to hear them all call me Madam Roulette!

    Reb.Shall I go at once and tell him?

    Alv.Wait. I want you first to help me in a little plan I have.

    Reb.Out with it, noble captain! Slow said slow sped, you know.

    Alv.You are a good fellow. Listen: I want to get into that attic there, for a particular purpose.

    Reb.And why doesn’t your Honor go up at once?

    Alv.I don’t like to do it in a strange house without an excuse. Now look here: you and I will pretend to quarrel; I get angry and draw my sword, and you run away up-stairs, and I after you, to the attic; that’s all. I’ll manage the rest.

    Chis.Ah, we get on famously!

    Reb.I understand. When are we to begin?


    Reb.Very good.(In a loud voice.)This is the reward of my merits! A rascal, a pitiful scoundrel, is preferred, when a man of honor—a man who has seen service——

    Chis.Hullo! Rebolledo up! All is not so well!

    Reb.Who has led you to victory——

    Alv.This language to me, sir?

    Reb.Yes, to you, who have so grossly insulted and defrauded——

    Alv.Silence! And think yourself lucky if I take no further notice of your insolence!

    Reb.If I restrain myself, it is only because you are my captain, and, as such— But, ’fore God, if my cane were in my hand——

    Chis.(advancing).Hold! Hold!

    Alv.I’ll show you, sir, how to talk to me in this way!(Draws his sword.)

    Reb.It is before your commission, not you, I retreat.

    Alv.That sha’n’t save you, rascal!(Pursues REBOLLEDO out.)

    Chis.Oh, I sha’n’t be Madam Roulette after all! Murder! Murder!(Exit, lamenting.)


    ISABEL and INES.
    Isab.What noise is that on the stairs?

    Enter REBOLLEDO.
    Reb.Sanctuary! Sanctuary!

    Isab.Who are you, sir?

    Enter ALVARO.
    Alv.Where is the rascal?

    Isab.A moment, sir! This poor man has flown to our feet for protection. I appeal to you for it; and no man, and least of all an officer, will refuse that to any woman.

    Alv.I swear no other arm than that of beauty, and beauty such as yours, could have withheld me.(To REBOLLEDO.)You may thank the deity that has saved you, rascal!

    Isab.And I thank you, sir.

    Alv.And yet ungratefully slay me with your eyes in return for sparing him with my sword!

    Isab.Oh, sir, do not mar the grace of a good deed by a poor compliment, and so make me less mindful of the real thanks I owe you!

    Alv.Wit and modesty kiss each other, as well they may, in that lovely face.(Kneels.)

    Isab.Heavens—my father!

    Enter CRESPO and JUAN with swords.
    Cres.How is this, sir? I am alarmed by cries of murder in my house—am told you have pursued a poor man up to my daughter’s room; and, when I get here, expecting to find you killing a man, I find you courting a woman.

    Alv.We are all born subjects to some dominion—soldiers especially to beauty. My sword, though justly raised against this man, as justly fell at this lady’s bidding.

    Cres.No lady, sir, if you please, but a plain peasant girl—my daughter.

    Juan(aside).All a trick to get at her. My blood boils.(Aloud to ALVARO.)I think, sir, you might have seen enough of my father’s desire to serve you to prevent your requiting him by such an affront as this!

    Cres.And, pray, who bid thee meddle, boy? Affront! What affront? The soldier affronted his captain; and if the captain has spared him for thy sister’s sake, pray, what hast thou to say against it?

    Alv.I think, young man, you had best consider before you impute ill intention to an officer.

    Juan.I know what I know.

    Cres.What! you will go on, will you?

    Alv.It is out of regard for you I do not chastise him.

    Cres.Wait a bit. If that were wanting, ’twould be from his father, not from you.

    Juan.And, what’s more, I wouldn’t endure it from any one but my father.

    Alv.You would not?

    Juan.No! death rather than such dishonor!

    Alv.What, pray, is a clodpole’s idea of honor?

    Juan.The same as a captain’s. None in a clodpole—none in a captain.

    Alv.’Fore Heaven, I must punish this insolence!(About to strike him.)

    Cres.You must do it through me, then.

    Reb.Eyes right! Don Lope!

    Alv.Don Lope!

    Enter DON LOPE.
    Lope.How now? A riot the very first thing I find on joining the regiment? What is it all about?

    Alv.(aside).Awkward enough!

    Cres.(aside).By the Lord, the boy would have held his own with the best of ’em!

    Lope.Well! No one answers me? ’Fore God, I’ll pitch the whole house, men, women, and children, out of windows, if you don’t tell me at once! Here have I had to trail up your accursed stairs, and then no one will tell me what for.

    Cres.Nothing, nothing at all, sir.

    Lope.Nothing? That would be the worst excuse of all; but swords aren’t drawn for nothing. Come, the truth!

    Alv.Well, the simple fact is this, Don Lope: I am quartered upon this house, and one of my soldiers——

    Lope.Well, sir, go on.

    Alv.Insulted me so grossly I was obliged to draw my sword on him. He ran up here, where it seems these two girls live; and I, not knowing there was any harm, after him. At which these men, their father or brother, or some such thing, take affront. This is the whole business.

    Lope.I am just come in time, then, to settle it. First, who is the soldier that began it with an act of insubordination?

    Reb.What! am I to pay the piper?

    Isab.(pointing to REBOLLEDO).This, sir, was the man who ran up first.

    Lope.This? Handcuff him!

    Reb.Me, my Lord?

    Alv.(aside to REBOLLEDO).Don’t blab; I’ll bear you harmless.

    Reb.Oh, I dare say, after being marched off with my hands behind me like a coward. Noble commander, ’twas the captain’s own doing. He made me pretend a quarrel, that he might get up here to see the women.

    Cres.I had some cause for quarrel, you see.

    Lope.Not enough to imperil the peace of the town for, Hullo there! beat all to quarters on pain of death. And, to prevent further ill blood here, do you(to ALVARO)quarter yourself elsewhere till we march. I’ll stop here.

    Alv.I shall, of course, obey you, sir.

    Cres.(to ISABEL).Go in.(Exeunt ISABEL and INES.)I really ought to thank you heartily for coming just as you did, sir; else I’d managed for myself.

    Lope.How so?

    Cres.I should have killed this popinjay.

    Lope.What, sir, a captain in his Majesty’s service?

    Cres.Aye, a general, if he insulted me!

    Lope.I tell you, whoever lays his little finger on the humblest private in the regiment, I’ll hang him!

    Cres.And I tell you, whoever points his little finger at my honor, I’ll cut him down before hanging!

    Lope.Know you not, you are bound by your allegiance to submit?

    Cres.To all cost of property, yes; but of honor, no, no, no! My goods and chattels, aye, and my life, are the king’s; but my honor is my own soul’s, and that is—God Almighty’s!

    Lope.’Fore God, there’s some truth in what you say.

    Cres.’Fore God, there ought to be, for I’ve been some years saying it.

    Lope.Well, well. I’ve come a long way, and this leg of mine—which I wish the devil who gave it would carry away with him!—cries for rest.

    Cres.And who prevents its taking some? The same devil, I suppose, who gave you your leg, gave me a bed—which I don’t want him to take away again, however—on which your leg may lie, if it like.

    Lope.But did the devil, when he was about it, make your bed as well as give it?

    Cres.To be sure he did.

    Lope.Then I’ll unmake it. Heaven knows I’m weary enough.

    Cres.Heaven rest you, then.

    Lope(aside).Devil or saint, alike he echoes me.

    Cres.(aside).I and Don Lope never shall agree.