According to the laws of the genre picaresque, the novel begins with a description of the hero’s childhood years. Pablos’s parents – a witch mother, a thief-father – are always arguing, whose profession is better. “Theft, son, this is not a simple craft, but an elegant art,” assures the father. But the boy already cherishes noble dreams from his childhood, rejects the parents’ proposals to master their “art” and only because of his perseverance goes to school. At school, Pablos met Don Diego Coronel, the son of noble hidalgo, he sincerely loves his new friend and gladly teaches him various games. But the stay of our hero in the school was short, since the following happened to him. During the carnival, the skinny nag on which Pablos was
Pablos soon becomes a well-known “hero” because of his cunning and resourcefulness, while his master remains, living among knave rogues, hitting a variety of intrigues and leprosy, a pious and honest young man. With Pablos there are many funny stories. So, one day he promised Don Diego and all his friends to steal the swords at the night
Don Pablos receives a letter from his uncle, the executioner, who informs the sad news. His father was hanged for stealing, and his uncle, who carried out the sentence, is proud of his relative, since he “hung so sedately that it was impossible to demand anything better.” My mother was sentenced by the Inquisition to four hundred deadly lashes for sorcery. Uncle asks Pablos to come for a legacy of 400 ducats and advises him to think about the profession of the executioner, since with his knowledge of Latin and rhetoric, he will be unsurpassed in this art. Don Diego was saddened by his separation, Pablos lamented even more, but when he parted with his master, he said: “I became another, señor… I’m aiming higher, for if my father was on the frontal place, then I want to try to jump above my forehead “.
The next day Pablos goes to Segovia to his uncle and receives the money that his relative has not yet had time to drink. Uncle is talking silly conversations, constantly applying to the bottle, and the nephew decides to run away from his house as soon as possible.
The next morning Pablos hires a donkey driver and begins a long-awaited journey to the capital, Madrid, as he is confident that he will be able to live there thanks to his resourcefulness and dexterity. On the road, an unexpected acquaintance begins. Don Toribio, a poor hidalgo, who lost his father’s property due to the fact that it was not redeemed on time, dedicates Pablos to the laws of the capital’s life. Don Toribio is one of the members of a gang of an amazing kind of fraudsters: their whole life is a deception aimed at not being accepted for what they really are. So, at night they gather on the streets lamb and bird bones, fruit peels, old wine bellows and scatter all this in their rooms. If someone comes to visit in the morning, then the prepared phrase is immediately pronounced: “Sorry for the mess, your ladyship, there was a dinner party, and these servants…” although, of course, there are no servants in sight. A duped visitor takes all this rubbish for the remains of a dinner party and believes that he has wealthy hidalgo before him. Every morning begins with a careful study of their own clothes, since it’s not so easy to let people catch dust: pants wear out very quickly, so different ways of sitting and standing against the light are invented, each thing has its long history, and, for example, a jacket can to be the granddaughter of a cape and the great-granddaughter of a great cloak-the tricks of numbers. There are also a million ways to dine in a strange house. Suppose, having talked with someone for two minutes, the bastards will find out where the stranger lives, and go there as if on a visit, but certainly at lunch time, while never giving up the invitation to join the meal. These young people can not afford to fall in love disinterestedly, and it happens only when necessary. They are dragging for innkeepers – for lunch, for the mistress of the house – for the sake of the premises, in a word, the nobleman is theirs if he can dodge – “the king himself, though he owns but little.” Pablos is delighted with such an extraordinary way of existence and declares Don Toribio of his decision to join their brotherhood. Upon arriving in Madrid, Pablos lives with one of Don Toribib’s friends, whom he employs as a servant. There is a paradoxical situation: firstly, the rogue feeds his master, and secondly, the rogue does not leave the poor hidalgo. This confirms the true kindness of Pablos, and he evokes sympathy, although we understand that there is really nothing to admire. Pablos spends a month in the company of knights of easy profit, studying all their thieves’ tricks. But once, having got on the sale of stolen dress, the whole “fraudulent collegium” goes to prison. But Pablos has an advantage – he is new to this company, therefore, giving a bribe, goes free. Meanwhile, all the other members of the gang are sent from Madrid for six years.
Pablos settles in a hotel and begins to take care of his host daughter, introducing himself as Senor Don Ramiro de Guzman. One fine day, Pablos, wrapped up in a cloak and changing his voice, portrays the manager Don Ramiro and asks the girl to inform the señor about his future big income. This incident completely destroyed the girl dreaming of a rich husband, and she agrees on the night offer offered by Pablos. But when our hero climbed onto the roof to penetrate the room through the window, he slipped, flew and “fell to the roof of the neighboring house with such force that he broke all the shingles.” The whole house woke up from the noise, servants accepted Pablos for a thief, and beat him with sticks in front of the lady of the heart. Thus, becoming a subject of ridicule and insults, a sneer, without paying for food and accommodation, runs away from the hotel.
Now Pablos is represented by Don Felipe Tristan and, relying on his enterprising and continuing to portray himself as a rich groom, tries to get to know a noble lady. Soon the bride is found, but, in the misfortune of Pablos, her cousin turns out to be Don Diego Coronel, who finds out in his Don Felipe Tristan his former servant and orders his present servants to properly pay off with a vile deceiver and a rogue. As a result, the face of Pablos is cut with a sword, he is all wounded and groans with pain. This unexpected reprisal knocked him out of the rut, and for a while Pablos was doomed to forced inaction. Then some poor man taught him the necessary plaintive tone and lamentations of the beggar, and our hero walks the streets for a week, begging. Soon, however, his fate changed abruptly again. One of the greatest scammers,
At the inn, our hero meets the troupe of wandering comedians who are also on their way to Toledo. He is accepted into the troupe, he turns out to be a born actor and plays on stage with rapture. Soon he becomes famous and is already composing comedies, thinking about becoming director of the troupe. But all his plans crumble in an instant. The director, having not paid any debt, gets to prison, the troupe disintegrates, and each goes its own way. His friends-actors offer him work in other troupes, but Pablos refuses, because he temporarily does not need money, he has grown cold and wants to just have fun. For a while he attends worship services at a convent and falls in love with one of the nuns. After selecting a naive girl, Pablos disappears from Toledo.
Now his way lies in Seville. Here, in a short time, he takes possession of the basics of card games and becomes an ace among other scammers. Suddenly, in a city hotel, Pablos meets one of his fellow Alcalians named Matorral, a professional killer. Once, once accidentally in a bloody fight with a night watch, Pablos along with him forced to hide from justice.
To find out if the lot and land change will improve, Pablos moves to the West Indies. “It turned out, however, all this is for the worse, for the one who changes his place and does not change his way of life and his habits will never correct his fate.”