Escena:  Francia y Castilla.





criado (de Enrique)


pastor, carbonero, rústico

Da. Catalina

infanta, hermana de Juan II, presa, cásase con D. Enrique


dama-criada (sirve a Catalina)


pastor, carbonero, rústico

Damón (no habla)

carbonero, rústico

D. Diego

paje, caballero-criado (sirve al Rey)

Doringo (Domingo, reparto)

pastor, serrano, carbonero, rústico


serrana antes, noble, hija del Conde de Urgel, cásase con D. Pedro

D. Enrique

Infante de Aragón, Maestre de Santiago, Marqués de Medellín y de Villena, preso, primo de Juan II y de Catalina

Fernán Alonso de Robles

noble, traidor



D. Gonzalo de Estremera

noble, traidor


hermana de Martín I de Aragón (En realidad la esposa del Conde de Urgel se llamaba Isabel.)

D. Jaime

Conde de Urgel e Igualada, viejo, padre de Elvira

D. Juan II

rey de Castilla




pastor, serrano, carbonero, rústico




serrano, carbonero, criado del Conde de Urgel, nombre fingido de Enrique


difunta hermana de Simón Vela, dama francesa


criado (de Catalina), paje


pastor, serrano, carbonero, rústico

D. Pedro

Infante de Aragón, preso, traidor, Marqués de Villena, privado, primo de Juan II y de Catalina, hermano de D. Enrique


viejo caballero francés


hermana de Martín I de Aragón, esposa del Conde de Urgel (En realidad la esposa del Conde se llamaba Isabel.)

Sancho (no habla)

carbonero, rústico

Simón Vela

estudiante francés, peregrino, preso, escolar, caballero, sobrino de Ricardo






pastor, serrano, carbonero, rústico, gracioso, ¿sacristán?

P. anón.:  una voz (647b; R I, 1841a; 1736a; 661a; 1861b; 1756b; 671b; 1879b; 1775b); un paje (habla 648b, 1842a, 1737b; ¿otro? habla 652a, 1847b; 1742b; se llama don Diego); gente (*654b, acot. 2; *1851b, acot. 2; *1746b, acot. 2; no habla); una guarda, (habla 658b, 1856b; 1751b); el alcaide (habla 659a, 1858a, 1753a); pastores (hablan 661b, 1862a 1757a; se llaman Cardencho, Damón y Sancho); pastores (*665a, acot. 1; *1868a, acot. 2; *1764a, acot. 1; cantan 665a; 1868a; 1764a); guardas (674a, acot. 2, 1882b, acot. 2; 1778b, acot. 2; no hablan); un embajador (reparto, no aparece en la comedia).


Ricardo scolds his nephew, Simón, who is a student, but not a successful one, for being lazy and not administering his estate well.  Ricardo wants Simón to marry his daughter and become a success in letters, by the sword or as a merchant.  Simón, however, doesn't want to marry. Simón falls asleep, and a voice speaks to him as he sleeps, saying "Simón, vela."  The voice tells him to leave France to go to look for the Peña de Francia and a woman there who will be important, holy and beautiful.  Upon awakening Simón decides to take the name Simón Vela and to follow the advice of the voice and go to find the Peña de Francia.

Meanwhile in Valladolid, Enrique and Pedro, the Princes of Aragon, both want to marry Catalina, the sister of Juan II of Castile.  Catalina, who is in love with Enrique, writes him a note saying "Tonight or never, Prince."  She decides to wait until fate gives her a favorable opportunity to deliver the note, and on one occasion when Enrique asks her, "When?"  with reference to his love for her, she replies "Look and you will find the when."  With that she drops her glove with the note as she leaves.  Enrique and Pedro struggle for the glove, and each ends up with half of the glove and half of the note.  Enrique's half of the note says, "never, Prince" and he thinks this is his answer.  Pedro gets the part that says, "Tonight" and decides that he'll go to Catalina's room that night, pretending to be the person for whom the note is intended.

Don Gonzalo de Estremera and Fernán Alonso have falsely denounced Ruy López to the King as a traitor and have caused him to be exiled.  Now, in order to improve their position with the King still more and to get Enrique out of their way they are trying to convince the King that Enrique is his enemy and that he wants to marry Catalina in order to get control of Castile.  The King, however, refuses to believe them.  Simón Vela, meanwhile, arrives with a letter from Ruy López telling how he was treacherously exiled.

Knowing that Enrique walks past Catalina's room at night, Gonzalo and Fernán plan to surprise him there and kill him, since they are unable to turn the King against him.  Unaware of the others' intentions, the King and Diego, his page, also plan to make rounds that night to see what is going on. When night comes Catalina appears in her window, awaiting the appearance of Enrique.  Pedro, however, arrives with a ladder, and when she asks if he's the prince and he replies that he is, she, of course, assumes that it's Enrique who is entering her room, and he begins to climb up the ladder. At this moment the King and Diego arrive, as do Gonzalo and Fernán.  Thinking that Diego is Enrique, Fernán grabs him and holds him while Gonzalo stabs him and mortally wounds him.  The King escapes and goes for help.  Gonzalo and Fernán go back to into the palace in order to answer the King's call, pretending that they know nothing of what has happened.

When Pedro hears the King's call for help he leaves Catalina to go the King's rescue.  She tells him that since he missed the opportunity tonight that now the answer will be "never."  The ladder to her window remains in place.  Enrique appears, accompanied by Simón Vela, and the see the ladder, whereupon Enrique assumes that Catalina has admitted another suitor to her chamber.  Gonzalo, Fernán and the King return to find Enrique there.  Gonzalo and Fernán accuse him of being the murderer, saying that he meant to kill the King instead of Diego.  The King orders that Enrique, Pedro, and Simón be taken prisoner and that Catalina be kept in her room under guard.  He takes the two halves of the note from Enrique and Pedro and assumes that they are instructions from Rui López to Enrique to kill the King"tonight or never."  The King is young and easily influenced, and Gonzalo and Fernán take advantage of this to convince him that Enrique wants control of Castile and that Ruy López want the King out of the way so that he can return to Castile.


Two months have passed.  By telling him that he can never win Catalina as long as Enrique is alive, Gonzalo persuades Pedro to be a traitor to his brother and say that Enrique, acting for Ruy López, was trying to kill the King when he mistakenly killed Diego instead.  Thus Pedro will go free and Gonzalo promises him that he will get Catalina and the Estado de Villena. Catalina, meanwhile, has a plan to free Enrique.  She has had Benavides, who serves Enrique, get a wax impression of the jailer's keys when the latter was playing a game with some other people, and from this impression he has had keys made.  Benavides and Padilla sneak the keys in to Enrique where they take his food, and he escapes.  Along with the keys Catalina sends him a note and he finally knows that she loves him.  He had not be certain of this even after both halves of the earlier message had been found, not knowing if it was intended for him or for someone else.  After escaping, Enrique wants to free Simón, but the others tell him it's too dangerous.

Enrique plans to go to Portugal to seek protection from his uncle, the King.  He sets out on his journey at night, but encounters Pedro, Gonzalo and Fernán, who are making rounds.  They see him, but he is covered up and they do not recognize him.  He calls them traitors and they draw their swords.  He kills Fernán, but Gonzalo flees.  He then disarms Pedro, insults him and leaves.

Simón hears the voice again and follows it to freedom, while Enrique continues on his way to Portugal.  The latter comes to a place in the mountains called the Peña de Francia, near which a group of peasants is preparing for a May festival.  He finds some clothing left by one of the shepherds and puts it on to disguise himself. To this area have also come Don Jaime, the Count of Urgel, and his daughter, Elvira, who are taking refuge there because changes of fortune have driven them from their homeland.  Enrique meets Elvira, who tells him that this area is the Peña de Francia.  He realizes that this is the place that Simón has told him he is searching for.  He tells Elvira that he is fleeing because he's been denounced by traitors in Castile.  He decides to hide there, with the help of Elvira, who tells him to take off the shepherd's clothes, which would be recognized by their owner, and she will bring him some other clothing to put on.  He will stay there and work, disguised as a carbonero.


Elvira has fallen in love with Enrique and is lovesick.  The Count sends her to Salamanca to make some purchases.  Melisa is to go also, as well as Tirso, Crespo, and the carbonero, who will take the coal and other products to market as they do every Thursday.  When she asks if anyone else is going the Count replies that Mireno (the name that Enrique has taken) will go too.  This news fills her with joy. The King, Pedro and Gonzalo are also on their way to Salamanca, where the King plans to marry Catalina to Pedro, whether she likes it or not.  Simón, too, is in Salamanca, having followed the voice there.  He overhears Doringo and Payo, two of the carboneros, speaking of the Peña de Francia and asks them to take him there.

After arriving in Salamanca, Enrique meets Padilla, who has come there with the King's entourage.  Padilla tells him how Catalina weeps because she does not want to marry Pedro.  Enrique gives Padilla, whom he knows he can trust, some clothing for a peasant girl to take back to Catalina and tells him to bring her, dressed as a peasant, to him in the mountains.  The King tells Catalina, meanwhile, that she must marry Pedro, but Padilla comes with the clothing Enrique has given him and she is able to escape, disguised.

Guided by Payo and Doringo, Simón arrives at the Peña de Francia.  He vows not to eat until he finds the woman the voice promised him there, and he begins to climb the rock.  When he gets to the top the rock opens to disclose a table laden with food.  He eats, then goes to sleep.  The voice tells him he won't accomplish his task if he sleeps.  A rock hits him on the head and awakens him, and he climbs up and sees a fissure from which the rock fell.  He goes to get the carboneros to help him open the crack in order to reveal the image of the Virgin that he is sure is inside and who is the woman intended for him.

While this is taking place the Conde comes to the realization that Elvira is in love with Mireno (Enrique).  She tells her father that Mireno is not what he seems and shows him the fine clothes that he was wearing when he came to the mountains.  Catalina, dressed as a peasant girl and posing as Enrique's sister, has now joined them.  The Count tells Enrique that his wife was the sister of the King of Aragon and that he thereby was one of the heirs when the King died.  He lost out, though, and Fernando (Enrique's father, although the Count, of course, does not know this) took him prisoner.  He and his wife escaped, however, with their baby, Elvira.

At this point Payo comes to announce that the King is coming.  Enrique has just enough time to tell the Count who he and Catalina really are and to ask him to hide Catalina while he goes off to hide himself in the rocks. The King arrives, looking for Enrique and Catalina.  His men catch Catalina.  She tells the King that she will not marry a man who sells out his own brother. By now Enrique has climbed to the top of the rock, pursued by Gonzalo.  They fight, and Enrique wounds Gonzalo and he falls.  Before he dies he confesses his treachery to the King, and Pedro, too, reveals his part in denouncing Enrique.  The King returns Enrique to his former status in the court and gives permission for him to marry Catalina.  Enrique tells the King who the Conde really is and they restore his lands and titles.  Enrique forgives Pedro and asks that he and Elvira marry.  The King, Pedro, and Elvira agree.

With the aid of the carboneros, Simón has opened the fissure in the rock to reveal its precious treasure: a statue of the Virgin.  They have made an altar and cover of branches for the statue, which has been there since the time of Rodrigo.  Simón entrusts the building of a proper house for the Virgin to the King and asks that he sees that he see it is cared for by the Dominican Fathers, because Heaven is calling him and the time has come for him to die.  The King pledges to do as Simón asks, and they all return to the court to celebrate the forthcoming marriages.


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