Miqeul de Cervantes >> Don Quixote (page 101)

They stretched him on the ground and untied him, but still he didnot awake; however, they rolled him back and forwards and shook andpulled him about, so that after some time he came to himself,stretching himself just as if he were waking up from a deep andsound sleep, and looking about him he said, "God forgive you, friends;ye have taken me away from the sweetest and most delightfulexistence and spectacle that ever human being enjoyed or beheld. Nowindeed do I know that all the pleasures of this life pass away likea shadow and a dream, or fade like the flower of the field. Oill-fated Montesinos! O sore-wounded Durandarte! O unhappy Belerma!O tearful Guadiana, and ye O hapless daughters of Ruidera who showin your waves the tears that flowed from your beauteous eyes!"

The cousin and Sancho Panza listened with deep attention to thewords of Don Quixote, who uttered them as though with immense painhe drew them up from his very bowels. They begged of him to explainhimself, and tell them what he had seen in that hell down there.

"Hell do you call it?" said Don Quixote; "call it by no such name,for it does not deserve it, as ye shall soon see."

He then begged them to give him something to eat, as he was veryhungry. They spread the cousin's sackcloth on the grass, and put thestores of the alforjas into requisition, and all three sitting downlovingly and sociably, they made a luncheon and a supper of it allin one; and when the sackcloth was removed, Don Quixote of La Manchasaid, "Let no one rise, and attend to me, my sons, both of you."



It was about four in the afternoon when the sun, veiled in clouds,with subdued light and tempered beams, enabled Don Quixote torelate, without heat or inconvenience, what he had seen in the cave ofMontesinos to his two illustrious hearers, and he began as follows:

"A matter of some twelve or fourteen times a man's height down inthis pit, on the right-hand side, there is a recess or space, roomyenough to contain a large cart with its mules. A little lightreaches it through some chinks or crevices, communicating with itand open to the surface of the earth. This recess or space I perceivedwhen I was already growing weary and disgusted at finding myselfhanging suspended by the rope, travelling downwards into that darkregion without any certainty or knowledge of where I was going, so Iresolved to enter it and rest myself for a while. I called out,telling you not to let out more rope until I bade you, but youcannot have heard me. I then gathered in the rope you were sending me,and making a coil or pile of it I seated myself upon it, ruminatingand considering what I was to do to lower myself to the bottom, havingno one to hold me up; and as I was thus deep in thought andperplexity, suddenly and without provocation a profound sleep fellupon me, and when I least expected it, I know not how, I awoke andfound myself in the midst of the most beautiful, delightful meadowthat nature could produce or the most lively human imaginationconceive. I opened my eyes, I rubbed them, and found I was notasleep but thoroughly awake. Nevertheless, I felt my head and breastto satisfy myself whether it was I myself who was there or someempty delusive phantom; but touch, feeling, the collected thoughtsthat passed through my mind, all convinced me that I was the same thenand there that I am this moment. Next there presented itself to mysight a stately royal palace or castle, with walls that seemed builtof clear transparent crystal; and through two great doors thatopened wide therein, I saw coming forth and advancing towards me avenerable old man, clad in a long gown of mulberry-coloured serge thattrailed upon the ground. On his shoulders and breast he had a greensatin collegiate hood, and covering his head a black Milanesebonnet, and his snow-white beard fell below his girdle. He carriedno arms whatever, nothing but a rosary of beads bigger than fair-sizedfilberts, each tenth bead being like a moderate ostrich egg; hisbearing, his gait, his dignity and imposing presence held mespellbound and wondering. He approached me, and the first thing he didwas to embrace me closely, and then he said to me, 'For a long timenow, O valiant knight Don Quixote of La Mancha, we who are hereenchanted in these solitudes have been hoping to see thee, that thoumayest make known to the world what is shut up and concealed in thisdeep cave, called the cave of Montesinos, which thou hast entered,an achievement reserved for thy invincible heart and stupendouscourage alone to attempt. Come with me, illustrious sir, and I willshow thee the marvels hidden within this transparent castle, whereof Iam the alcaide and perpetual warden; for I am Montesinos himself, fromwhom the cave takes its name.'

"The instant he told me he was Montesinos, I asked him if thestory they told in the world above here was true, that he had takenout the heart of his great friend Durandarte from his breast with alittle dagger, and carried it to the lady Belerma, as his friendwhen at the point of death had commanded him. He said in reply thatthey spoke the truth in every respect except as to the dagger, forit was not a dagger, nor little, but a burnished poniard sharperthan an awl."

"That poniard must have been made by Ramon de Hoces theSevillian," said Sancho.

"I do not know," said Don Quixote; "it could not have been by thatponiard maker, however, because Ramon de Hoces was a man of yesterday,and the affair of Roncesvalles, where this mishap occurred, was longago; but the question is of no great importance, nor does it affect ormake any alteration in the truth or substance of the story."

"That is true," said the cousin; "continue, Senor Don Quixote, for Iam listening to you with the greatest pleasure in the world."

"And with no less do I tell the tale," said Don Quixote; "and so, toproceed- the venerable Montesinos led me into the palace of crystal,where, in a lower chamber, strangely cool and entirely of alabaster,was an elaborately wrought marble tomb, upon which I beheld, stretchedat full length, a knight, not of bronze, or marble, or jasper, asare seen on other tombs, but of actual flesh and bone. His righthand (which seemed to me somewhat hairy and sinewy, a sign of greatstrength in its owner) lay on the side of his heart; but before Icould put any question to Montesinos, he, seeing me gazing at the tombin amazement, said to me, 'This is my friend Durandarte, flower andmirror of the true lovers and valiant knights of his time. He isheld enchanted here, as I myself and many others are, by that Frenchenchanter Merlin, who, they say, was the devil's son; but my beliefis, not that he was the devil's son, but that he knew, as the sayingis, a point more than the devil. How or why he enchanted us, no oneknows, but time will tell, and I suspect that time is not far off.What I marvel at is, that I know it to be as sure as that it is nowday, that Durandarte ended his life in my arms, and that, after hisdeath, I took out his heart with my own hands; and indeed it must haveweighed more than two pounds, for, according to naturalists, he whohas a large heart is more largely endowed with valour than he whohas a small one. Then, as this is the case, and as the knight didreally die, how comes it that he now moans and sighs from time totime, as if he were still alive?'

"As he said this, the wretched Durandarte cried out in a loud voice:

O cousin Montesinos!'T was my last request of thee,When my soul hath left the body,And that lying dead I be,With thy poniard or thy daggerCut the heart from out my breast,And bear it to Belerma.This was my last request.

On hearing which, the venerable Montesinos fell on his knees beforethe unhappy knight, and with tearful eyes exclaimed, 'Long since,Senor Durandarte, my beloved cousin, long since have I done what youbade me on that sad day when I lost you; I took out your heart as wellas I could, not leaving an atom of it in your breast, I wiped itwith a lace handkerchief, and I took the road to France with it,having first laid you in the bosom of the earth with tears enough towash and cleanse my hands of the blood that covered them afterwandering among your bowels; and more by token, O cousin of my soul,at the first village I came to after leaving Roncesvalles, I sprinkleda little salt upon your heart to keep it sweet, and bring it, if notfresh, at least pickled, into the presence of the lady Belerma,whom, together with you, myself, Guadiana your squire, the duennaRuidera and her seven daughters and two nieces, and many more ofyour friends and acquaintances, the sage Merlin has been keepingenchanted here these many years; and although more than five hundredhave gone by, not one of us has died; Ruidera and her daughters andnieces alone are missing, and these, because of the tears they shed,Merlin, out of the compassion he seems to have felt for them,changed into so many lakes, which to this day in the world of theliving, and in the province of La Mancha, are called the Lakes ofRuidera. The seven daughters belong to the kings of Spain and thetwo nieces to the knights of a very holy order called the Order of St.John. Guadiana your squire, likewise bewailing your fate, waschanged into a river of his own name, but when he came to thesurface and beheld the sun of another heaven, so great was his griefat finding he was leaving you, that he plunged into the bowels ofthe earth; however, as he cannot help following his natural course, hefrom time to time comes forth and shows himself to the sun and theworld. The lakes aforesaid send him their waters, and with these,and others that come to him, he makes a grand and imposing entranceinto Portugal; but for all that, go where he may, he shows hismelancholy and sadness, and takes no pride in breeding dainty choicefish, only coarse and tasteless sorts, very different from those ofthe golden Tagus. All this that I tell you now, O cousin mine, Ihave told you many times before, and as you make no answer, I fearthat either you believe me not, or do not hear me, whereat I feelGod knows what grief. I have now news to give you, which, if it servesnot to alleviate your sufferings, will not in any wise increasethem. Know that you have here before you (open your eyes and youwill see) that great knight of whom the sage Merlin has prophesiedsuch great things; that Don Quixote of La Mancha I mean, who hasagain, and to better purpose than in past times, revived in these daysknight-errantry, long since forgotten, and by whose intervention andaid it may be we shall be disenchanted; for great deeds are reservedfor great men.'

"'And if that may not be,' said the wretched Durandarte in a low andfeeble voice, 'if that may not be, then, my cousin, I say "patienceand shuffle;"' and turning over on his side, he relapsed into hisformer silence without uttering another word.

"And now there was heard a great outcry and lamentation, accompaniedby deep sighs and bitter sobs. I looked round, and through the crystalwall I saw passing through another chamber a procession of two linesof fair damsels all clad in mourning, and with white turbans ofTurkish fashion on their heads. Behind, in the rear of these, therecame a lady, for so from her dignity she seemed to be, also clad inblack, with a white veil so long and ample that it swept the ground.Her turban was twice as large as the largest of any of the others; hereyebrows met, her nose was rather flat, her mouth was large but withruddy lips, and her teeth, of which at times she allowed a glimpse,were seen to be sparse and ill-set, though as white as peeled almonds.She carried in her hands a fine cloth, and in it, as well as I couldmake out, a heart that had been mummied, so parched and dried wasit. Montesinos told me that all those forming the procession werethe attendants of Durandarte and Belerma, who were enchanted therewith their master and mistress, and that the last, she who carried theheart in the cloth, was the lady Belerma, who, with her damsels,four days in the week went in procession singing, or rather weeping,dirges over the body and miserable heart of his cousin; and that ifshe appeared to me somewhat ill-favoured or not so beautiful as famereported her, it was because of the bad nights and worse days that shepassed in that enchantment, as I could see by the great dark circlesround her eyes, and her sickly complexion; 'her sallowness, and therings round her eyes,' said he, 'are not caused by the periodicalailment usual with women, for it is many months and even years sinceshe has had any, but by the grief her own heart suffers because ofthat which she holds in her hand perpetually, and which recalls andbrings back to her memory the sad fate of her lost lover; were itnot for this, hardly would the great Dulcinea del Toboso, socelebrated in all these parts, and even in the world, come up to herfor beauty, grace, and gaiety.'

"'Hold hard!' said I at this, 'tell your story as you ought, SenorDon Montesinos, for you know very well that all comparisons areodious, and there is no occasion to compare one person with another;the peerless Dulcinea del Toboso is what she is, and the lady DonaBelerma is what she is and has been, and that's enough.' To which hemade answer, 'Forgive me, Senor Don Quixote; I own I was wrong andspoke unadvisedly in saying that the lady Dulcinea could scarcely comeup to the lady Belerma; for it were enough for me to have learned,by what means I know not, that youare her knight, to make me bite mytongue out before I compared her to anything save heaven itself.'After this apology which the great Montesinos made me, my heartrecovered itself from the shock I had received in hearing my ladycompared with Belerma."

"Still I wonder," said Sancho, "that your worship did not get uponthe old fellow and bruise every bone of him with kicks, and pluckhis beard until you didn't leave a hair in it."

"Nay, Sancho, my friend," said Don Quixote, "it would not havebeen right in me to do that, for we are all bound to pay respect tothe aged, even though they be not knights, but especially to those whoare, and who are enchanted; I only know I gave him as good as hebrought in the many other questions and answers we exchanged."

Title: Don Quixote
Author: Miqeul de Cervantes
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