PEPITO EL CORCOVADO
PEPITO EL CORCOVADO, [a] a gay lively little hunchback, used to gain his living by his voice and his guitar; for he was a general favourite, and was in constant request at weddings and other festivities. He was going home one night from one of these festive occasions, being under engagement for another in the morning, and, as it was in the celebrated Sierra Morena, he contrived to lose his way. After trying in vain to find it, he wrapped his cloak about him, and lay down for the night at the foot of a cork-tree. He had hardly, however, gone to sleep, when be was awakened by the sound of a number of little voices singing to an old air with which he was well acquainted,
Lunes y Martes y Miercoles tres
over and over again. Deeming this to be imperfect, he struck in, adding,
Jueves y Viernes y Sabado seis.
The little folk were quite delighted, and for hours the mountain rang with
Lunes y Martes y Miercoles tres,
Jueves y Viemes y Sabado sies.
Monday and Tueaday and Wednesday three,
Thursday and Friday and Saturday, six.
They finally crowded round Pepito, and bade him ask what he would for having completed their song so beautifully. After a little consideration, he begged to have his hump removed. So said so done, he was in an instant one of the straightest men in all Spain. On his return home, every one was amazed at the transformation. The story soon got wind, and another hunchback, named Cirillo, but unlike Pepito, as crooked in temper as in person, having learned from him where the scene of his adventure lay, resolved to proceed thither and try his luck. He accordingly reached the spot,. sat under the cork-tree, and saw and heard all that Pepito had heard and seen. He resolved also to add to the song, and he struck in with "Y Domingo siete" (and Sunday seven); but whether it was the breach of rhythm, or the mention of the Lord's Day that gave offence, he was instantly assailed with a shower of blows or pinches, and to make his calamity the greater, Pepito's hump was added to his own. [b]
We thus may see that there are beings in Spain also answering to the various classes of Fairies. But none of these have obtained the same degree of reputation as the House-spirit, whose Spanish name is Duende or Trasgo. In Torquemada's Spanish Mandeville, as the old English version of it is named, there is a section devoted to the Duende, in which some of his feats, such as pelting people with stones, clay, and such like, are noticed, and in the last century the learned Father Feijoo wrote an essay on Duendes, [c] i.e. on House-spirits; for he says little of the proper Spanish Duende, and his examples are Hodiken and the Kobolds, of which he had read in Agricola and other writers. On the whole, perhaps, the best account of the Duende will be found in Calderon's spritely comedy, named La Dama Duende.
In this piece, when Cosme, who pretends that he had seen the Duende when he put out his candle, is asked by ins master what he was like, he replies:
Era un fraile
Tamañito, y tenia puesto
Un cucurucho tamano;
Que por estas senas creo
Que era duende capuchino.
This cucurucho was a long conical hat without a brim. worn by the clergy in general, nd not by the Capuchins alone. A little before, Cosme, when seeking to avert the appearance of the Duende, recites the following lines, which have the appearance of being formed from some popular charm against the House-spirit:
Señora dama duende,
Duelase de mi;
Que soy nino y solo,
Y nunca en tal me vi.
In De Solis' very amusing comedy of Un Bobo hace Ciento, Dona Ana makes the following extremely pretty application of the popular idea of the Duende:
Yo soy, don Luis, una dama
Que no conozco este duende
Del amor, si no es por fama.
In another of his plays (El Amor al Uso), a lady says:
Amor es duende importuno
Que al mundo asombrando trae;
Todos dicen que le ay,
Y no le ha visto ninguno.
The lines from Calderon prefixed to this section of our Work, show that money given by the Duende was as unsubstantial as fairy-money in general. This is confirmed by Don Quixote, who tells his rather covetous squire, that "los tesoros de los caballeros andantes son, como los de los Duendes, aparentes y falsos."
The Spaniards seem also to agree with the people of other countries in regarding the Fairies as being fallen angels. One of their most celebrated poets thus expresses himself:
Disputase por bombres entendidos
Si fue de los caidos este duende.
Some Spanish etymologists say that Duende is a contraction of Duéno de casa; others, that it comes from the Arabic Duar, (dwelling) the term used for the Arab camps on the north-coast of Africa. To us it appears more probable that the Visigoths brought their ancient popular creed with them to Spain [d] also, and that as Duerg became Drac in Provence, it was converted into Duende in Spain. [e] It is further not quite impossible that Duerg may be also the original of Trasgo, a word for which we believe no etymon has been proposed.
[a] i.e. Joey the Hunchback. Pepito is the dim. of Pepe, i.e. José, Joseph.
[b] See Thoms's Lays and Legends of Spain, p.83. It was related, he says, to a friend of his by the late Sir John Malcolm, who had heard it in Spain. It is also briefly related (probably on the same authority) in the Quarterly Review, vol. xxii. (see above pp. 364, 438). Redi, in his Letters, gives another form of it, in which the scene is at Benevento, the agents are witches, and the hump is taken off, senza verun suo dolor, with a saw of butter. Y Domingo .siete is, we are told, a common phrase when any thing is said or done mal à propos.
[c] Teatro Critico, tom. ii. His object is to disprove their existence, and he very justly says that the Duende was usually a knavish servant who had his own reasons for making a noise and disturbing the family. This theory will also explain the Duende-tales of Torquemada.
[d] See Tales and Popular Fictions, p. 269.
[e] The change of r and n is not without examples. Thus we have άργυρον and argentum; water, English; vand, Danish; vatn, Swedish.Cristofero is Cristofano in Tuscan; homine, nomine, sanguine, are hombre, nombre, sangre, Spanish. In Duerg when r became a, euphony changed g to d, or vice versa. The changes words undergo when the derivation is certain, are often curious. Alguacil, Spanish, is El-wezeer Arab, as Azucena Spanish, Cecem Portuguese (white-lily) is Susan Arab; Guancia (cheek) Italian, is Wange German. It might not be safe to assert that the Persian gurk and our wolf are the same, and yet the letters in them taken in order are all commutable. Our God be with you has shrunk to Goodbye, and the Spanish Vuestra merced to Usted, pr. Usté. There must, by the way, some time or other, have been an intimate connexion between Spain and England, so many of our familiar words seem to have a Spanish origin. Thus ninny is from niño: booby from bobo; pucker from puchero; launch (a boat) from lancha; and perhaps monkey (if not from mannikin) from mono, monico. We pronounce our colonel like the Spanish coronel.