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Miqeul de Cervantes >> Don Quixote (page 100)


CHAPTER XXIIWHERIN IS RELATED THE GRAND ADVENTURE OF THE CAVE OF MONTESINOS INTHE HEART OF LA MANCHA, WHICH THE VALIANT DON QUIXOTE BROUGHT TO AHAPPY TERMINATION

Many and great were the attentions shown to Don Quixote by the newlymarried couple, who felt themselves under an obligation to him forcoming forward in defence of their cause; and they exalted hiswisdom to the same level with his courage, rating him as a Cid inarms, and a Cicero in eloquence. Worthy Sancho enjoyed himself forthree days at the expense of the pair, from whom they learned that thesham wound was not a scheme arranged with the fair Quiteria, but adevice of Basilio's, who counted on exactly the result they hadseen; he confessed, it is true, that he had confided his idea tosome of his friends, so that at the proper time they might aid himin his purpose and insure the success of the deception.

"That," said Don Quixote, "is not and ought not to be calleddeception which aims at virtuous ends;" and the marriage of lovershe maintained to be a most excellent end, reminding them, however,that love has no greater enemy than hunger and constant want; for loveis all gaiety, enjoyment, and happiness, especially when the loveris in the possession of the object of his love, and poverty and wantare the declared enemies of all these; which he said to urge SenorBasilio to abandon the practice of those accomplishments he wasskilled in, for though they brought him fame, they brought him nomoney, and apply himself to the acquisition of wealth by legitimateindustry, which will never fail those who are prudent and persevering.The poor man who is a man of honour (if indeed a poor man can be a manof honour) has a jewel when he has a fair wife, and if she is takenfrom him, his honour is taken from him and slain. The fair woman whois a woman of honour, and whose husband is poor, deserves to becrowned with the laurels and crowns of victory and triumph. Beautyby itself attracts the desires of all who behold it, and the royaleagles and birds of towering flight stoop on it as on a dainty lure;but if beauty be accompanied by want and penury, then the ravens andthe kites and other birds of prey assail it, and she who stands firmagainst such attacks well deserves to be called the crown of herhusband. "Remember, O prudent Basilio," added Don Quixote, "it was theopinion of a certain sage, I know not whom, that there was not morethan one good woman in the whole world; and his advice was that eachone should think and believe that this one good woman was his ownwife, and in this way he would live happy. I myself am not married,nor, so far, has it ever entered my thoughts to be so; neverthelessI would venture to give advice to anyone who might ask it, as to themode in which he should seek a wife such as he would be content tomarry. The first thing I would recommend him, would be to look to goodname rather than to wealth, for a good woman does not win a goodname merely by being good, but by letting it he seen that she is so,and open looseness and freedom do much more damage to a woman's honourthan secret depravity. If you take a good woman into your house itwill he an easy matter to keep her good, and even to make her stillbetter; but if you take a bad one you will find it hard work to mendher, for it is no very easy matter to pass from one extreme toanother. I do not say it is impossible, but I look upon it asdifficult."

Sancho, listening to all this, said to himself, "This master ofmine, when I say anything that has weight and substance, says Imight take a pulpit in hand, and go about the world preaching finesermons; but I say of him that, when he begins stringing maximstogether and giving advice not only might he take a pulpit in hand,but two on each finger, and go into the market-places to his heart'scontent. Devil take you for a knight-errant, what a lot of thingsyou know! I used to think in my heart that the only thing he knewwas what belonged to his chivalry; but there is nothing he won'thave a finger in."

Sancho muttered this somewhat aloud, and his master overheard him,and asked, "What art thou muttering there, Sancho?"

"I'm not saying anything or muttering anything," said Sancho; "I wasonly saying to myself that I wish I had heard what your worship hassaid just now before I married; perhaps I'd say now, 'The ox that'sloose licks himself well.'"

"Is thy Teresa so bad then, Sancho?"

"She is not very bad," replied Sancho; "but she is not very good; atleast she is not as good as I could wish."

"Thou dost wrong, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "to speak ill of thywife; for after all she is the mother of thy children." "We arequits," returned Sancho; "for she speaks ill of me whenever shetakes it into her head, especially when she is jealous; and Satanhimself could not put up with her then."

In fine, they remained three days with the newly married couple,by whom they were entertained and treated like kings. Don Quixotebegged the fencing licentiate to find him a guide to show him theway to the cave of Montesinos, as he had a great desire to enter itand see with his own eyes if the wonderful tales that were told ofit all over the country were true. The licentiate said he would gethim a cousin of his own, a famous scholar, and one very much givento reading books of chivalry, who would have great pleasure inconducting him to the mouth of the very cave, and would show him thelakes of Ruidera, which were likewise famous all over La Mancha, andeven all over Spain; and he assured him he would find himentertaining, for he was a youth who could write books good enoughto be printed and dedicated to princes. The cousin arrived at last,leading an ass in foal, with a pack-saddle covered with aparti-coloured carpet or sackcloth; Sancho saddled Rocinante, gotDapple ready, and stocked his alforjas, along with which went those ofthe cousin, likewise well filled; and so, commending themselves to Godand bidding farewell to all, they set out, taking the road for thefamous cave of Montesinos.

On the way Don Quixote asked the cousin of what sort and characterhis pursuits, avocations, and studies were, to which he replied thathe was by profession a humanist, and that his pursuits and studieswere making books for the press, all of great utility and no lessentertainment to the nation. One was called "The Book of Liveries," inwhich he described seven hundred and three liveries, with theircolours, mottoes, and ciphers, from which gentlemen of the court mightpick and choose any they fancied for festivals and revels, withouthaving to go a-begging for them from anyone, or puzzling their brains,as the saying is, to have them appropriate to their objects andpurposes; "for," said he, "I give the jealous, the rejected, theforgotten, the absent, what will suit them, and fit them without fail.I have another book, too, which I shall call 'Metamorphoses, or theSpanish Ovid,' one of rare and original invention, for imitatingOvid in burlesque style, I show in it who the Giralda of Seville andthe Angel of the Magdalena were, what the sewer of Vecinguerra atCordova was, what the bulls of Guisando, the Sierra Morena, theLeganitos and Lavapies fountains at Madrid, not forgetting those ofthe Piojo, of the Cano Dorado, and of the Priora; and all with theirallegories, metaphors, and changes, so that they are amusing,interesting, and instructive, all at once. Another book I have which Icall 'The Supplement to Polydore Vergil,' which treats of theinvention of things, and is a work of great erudition and research,for I establish and elucidate elegantly some things of greatimportance which Polydore omitted to mention. He forgot to tell us whowas the first man in the world that had a cold in his head, and whowas the first to try salivation for the French disease, but I giveit accurately set forth, and quote more than five-and-twenty authorsin proof of it, so you may perceive I have laboured to good purposeand that the book will be of service to the whole world."

Sancho, who had been very attentive to the cousin's words, said tohim, "Tell me, senor- and God give you luck in printing your books-can you tell me (for of course you know, as you know everything) whowas the first man that scratched his head? For to my thinking itmust have been our father Adam."

"So it must," replied the cousin; "for there is no doubt but Adamhad a head and hair; and being the first man in the world he wouldhave scratched himself sometimes."

"So I think," said Sancho; "but now tell me, who was the firsttumbler in the world?"

"Really, brother," answered the cousin, "I could not at thismoment say positively without having investigated it; I will look itup when I go back to where I have my books, and will satisfy you thenext time we meet, for this will not be the last time."

"Look here, senor," said Sancho, "don't give yourself any troubleabout it, for I have just this minute hit upon what I asked you. Thefirst tumbler in the world, you must know, was Lucifer, when they castor pitched him out of heaven; for he came tumbling into the bottomlesspit."

"You are right, friend," said the cousin; and said Don Quixote,"Sancho, that question and answer are not thine own; thou hast heardthem from some one else."

"Hold your peace, senor," said Sancho; "faith, if I take to askingquestions and answering, I'll go on from this till to-morrowmorning. Nay! to ask foolish things and answer nonsense I needn't golooking for help from my neighbours."

"Thou hast said more than thou art aware of, Sancho," said DonQuixote; "for there are some who weary themselves out in learningand proving things that, after they are known and proved, are notworth a farthing to the understanding or memory."

In this and other pleasant conversation the day went by, and thatnight they put up at a small hamlet whence it was not more than twoleagues to the cave of Montesinos, so the cousin told Don Quixote,adding, that if he was bent upon entering it, it would be requisitefor him to provide himself with ropes, so that he might be tied andlowered into its depths. Don Quixote said that even if it reached tothe bottomless pit he meant to see where it went to; so they boughtabout a hundred fathoms of rope, and next day at two in theafternoon they arrived at the cave, the mouth of which is spacious andwide, but full of thorn and wild-fig bushes and brambles and briars,so thick and matted that they completely close it up and cover itover.

On coming within sight of it the cousin, Sancho, and Don Quixotedismounted, and the first two immediately tied the latter veryfirmly with the ropes, and as they were girding and swathing himSancho said to him, "Mind what you are about, master mine; don't goburying yourself alive, or putting yourself where you'll be like abottle put to cool in a well; it's no affair or business of yourworship's to become the explorer of this, which must be worse than aMoorish dungeon."

"Tie me and hold thy peace," said Don Quixote, "for an empriselike this, friend Sancho, was reserved for me;" and said the guide, "Ibeg of you, Senor Don Quixote, to observe carefully and examine with ahundred eyes everything that is within there; perhaps there may besome things for me to put into my book of 'Transformations.'"

"The drum is in hands that will know how to beat it well enough,"said Sancho Panza.

When he had said this and finished the tying (which was not over thearmour but only over the doublet) Don Quixote observed, "It wascareless of us not to have provided ourselves with a small cattle-bellto be tied on the rope close to me, the sound of which would show thatI was still descending and alive; but as that is out of the questionnow, in God's hand be it to guide me;" and forthwith he fell on hisknees and in a low voice offered up a prayer to heaven, imploringGod to aid him and grant him success in this to all appearanceperilous and untried adventure, and then exclaimed aloud, "Omistress of my actions and movements, illustrious and peerlessDulcinea del Toboso, if so be the prayers and supplications of thisfortunate lover can reach thy ears, by thy incomparable beauty Ientreat thee to listen to them, for they but ask thee not to refuse methy favour and protection now that I stand in such need of them. Iam about to precipitate, to sink, to plunge myself into the abyss thatis here before me, only to let the world know that while thou dostfavour me there is no impossibility I will not attempt andaccomplish." With these words he approached the cavern, andperceived that it was impossible to let himself down or effect anentrance except by sheer force or cleaving a passage; so drawing hissword he began to demolish and cut away the brambles at the mouth ofthe cave, at the noise of which a vast multitude of crows andchoughs flew out of it so thick and so fast that they knocked DonQuixote down; and if he had been as much of a believer in augury as hewas a Catholic Christian he would have taken it as a bad omen anddeclined to bury himself in such a place. He got up, however, and asthere came no more crows, or night-birds like the bats that flew outat the same time with the crows, the cousin and Sancho giving himrope, he lowered himself into the depths of the dread cavern; and ashe entered it Sancho sent his blessing after him, making a thousandcrosses over him and saying, "God, and the Pena de Francia, and theTrinity of Gaeta guide thee, flower and cream of knights-errant. Therethou goest, thou dare-devil of the earth, heart of steel, arm ofbrass; once more, God guide thee and send thee back safe, sound, andunhurt to the light of this world thou art leaving to bury thyselfin the darkness thou art seeking there;" and the cousin offered upalmost the same prayers and supplications.

Don Quixote kept calling to them to give him rope and more rope, andthey gave it out little by little, and by the time the calls, whichcame out of the cave as out of a pipe, ceased to be heard they had letdown the hundred fathoms of rope. They were inclined to pull DonQuixote up again, as they could give him no more rope; however, theywaited about half an hour, at the end of which time they began togather in the rope again with great ease and without feeling anyweight, which made them fancy Don Quixote was remaining below; andpersuaded that it was so, Sancho wept bitterly, and hauled away ingreat haste in order to settle the question. When, however, they hadcome to, as it seemed, rather more than eighty fathoms they felt aweight, at which they were greatly delighted; and at last, at tenfathoms more, they saw Don Quixote distinctly, and Sancho called outto him, saying, "Welcome back, senor, for we had begun to think youwere going to stop there to found a family." But Don Quixoteanswered not a word, and drawing him out entirely they perceived hehad his eyes shut and every appearance of being fast asleep.

Title: Don Quixote
Author: Miqeul de Cervantes
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