Miqeul de Cervantes >> Don Quixote (page 102)

"I cannot understand, Senor Don Quixote," remarked the cousinhere, "how it is that your worship, in such a short space of time asyou have been below there, could have seen so many things, and saidand answered so much."

"How long is it since I went down?" asked Don Quixote.

"Little better than an hour," replied Sancho.

"That cannot be," returned Don Quixote, "because night overtook mewhile I was there, and day came, and it was night again and dayagain three times; so that, by my reckoning, I have been three days inthose remote regions beyond our ken."

"My master must be right," replied Sancho; "for as everything thathas happened to him is by enchantment, maybe what seems to us anhour would seem three days and nights there."

"That's it," said Don Quixote.

"And did your worship eat anything all that time, senor?" askedthe cousin.

"I never touched a morsel," answered Don Quixote, "nor did I feelhunger, or think of it."

"And do the enchanted eat?" said the cousin.

"They neither eat," said Don Quixote; "nor are they subject to thegreater excrements, though it is thought that their nails, beards, andhair grow."

"And do the enchanted sleep, now, senor?" asked Sancho.

"Certainly not," replied Don Quixote; "at least, during thosethree days I was with them not one of them closed an eye, nor did Ieither."

"The proverb, 'Tell me what company thou keepest and I'll tellthee what thou art,' is to the point here," said Sancho; "your worshipkeeps company with enchanted people that are always fasting andwatching; what wonder is it, then, that you neither eat nor sleepwhile you are with them? But forgive me, senor, if I say that of allthis you have told us now, may God take me- I was just going to saythe devil- if I believe a single particle."

"What!" said the cousin, "has Senor Don Quixote, then, been lying?Why, even if he wished it he has not had time to imagine and puttogether such a host of lies."

"I don't believe my master lies," said Sancho.

"If not, what dost thou believe?" asked Don Quixote.

"I believe," replied Sancho, "that this Merlin, or thoseenchanters who enchanted the whole crew your worship says you sawand discoursed with down there, stuffed your imagination or yourmind with all this rigmarole you have been treating us to, and allthat is still to come."

"All that might be, Sancho," replied Don Quixote; "but it is not so,for everything that I have told you I saw with my own eyes, andtouched with my own hands. But what will you say when I tell you nowhow, among the countless other marvellous things Montesinos showedme (of which at leisure and at the proper time I will give thee anaccount in the course of our journey, for they would not be all inplace here), he showed me three country girls who went skipping andcapering like goats over the pleasant fields there, and the instantI beheld them I knew one to be the peerless Dulcinea del Toboso, andthe other two those same country girls that were with her and thatwe spoke to on the road from El Toboso! I asked Montesinos if heknew them, and he told me he did not, but he thought they must be someenchanted ladies of distinction, for it was only a few days beforethat they had made their appearance in those meadows; but I was not tobe surprised at that, because there were a great many other ladiesthere of times past and present, enchanted in various strangeshapes, and among them he had recognised Queen Guinevere and herdame Quintanona, she who poured out the wine for Lancelot when he camefrom Britain."

When Sancho Panza heard his master say this he was ready to takeleave of his senses, or die with laughter; for, as he knew the realtruth about the pretended enchantment of Dulcinea, in which he himselfhad been the enchanter and concocter of all the evidence, he made uphis mind at last that, beyond all doubt, his master was out of hiswits and stark mad, so he said to him, "It was an evil hour, a worseseason, and a sorrowful day, when your worship, dear master mine, wentdown to the other world, and an unlucky moment when you met with SenorMontesinos, who has sent you back to us like this. You were wellenough here above in your full senses, such as God had given you,delivering maxims and giving advice at every turn, and not as youare now, talking the greatest nonsense that can be imagined."

"As I know thee, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "I heed not thy words."

"Nor I your worship's," said Sancho, "whether you beat me or kill mefor those I have spoken, and will speak if you don't correct andmend your own. But tell me, while we are still at peace, how or bywhat did you recognise the lady our mistress; and if you spoke to her,what did you say, and what did she answer?"

"I recognised her," said Don Quixote, "by her wearing the samegarments she wore when thou didst point her out to me. I spoke to her,but she did not utter a word in reply; on the contrary, she turned herback on me and took to flight, at such a pace that crossbow bolt couldnot have overtaken her. I wished to follow her, and would have done sohad not Montesinos recommended me not to take the trouble as itwould be useless, particularly as the time was drawing near when itwould be necessary for me to quit the cavern. He told me, moreover,that in course of time he would let me know how he and Belerma, andDurandarte, and all who were there, were to be disenchanted. But ofall I saw and observed down there, what gave me most pain was, thatwhile Montesinos was speaking to me, one of the two companions ofthe hapless Dulcinea approached me on one without my having seen hercoming, and with tears in her eyes said to me, in a low, agitatedvoice, 'My lady Dulcinea del Toboso kisses your worship's hands, andentreats you to do her the favour of letting her know how you are;and, being in great need, she also entreats your worship asearnestly as she can to be so good as to lend her half a dozenreals, or as much as you may have about you, on this new dimitypetticoat that I have here; and she promises to repay them veryspeedily.' I was amazed and taken aback by such a message, and turningto Senor Montesinos I asked him, 'Is it possible, Senor Montesinos,that persons of distinction under enchantment can be in need?' Towhich he replied, 'Believe me, Senor Don Quixote, that which is calledneed is to be met with everywhere, and penetrates all quarters andreaches everyone, and does not spare even the enchanted; and as thelady Dulcinea del Toboso sends to beg those six reals, and thepledge is to all appearance a good one, there is nothing for it but togive them to her, for no doubt she must be in some great strait.' 'Iwill take no pledge of her,' I replied, 'nor yet can I give her whatshe asks, for all I have is four reals; which I gave (they werethose which thou, Sancho, gavest me the other day to bestow in almsupon the poor I met along the road), and I said, 'Tell yourmistress, my dear, that I am grieved to the heart because of herdistresses, and wish I was a Fucar to remedy them, and that I wouldhave her know that I cannot be, and ought not be, in health whiledeprived of the happiness of seeing her and enjoying her discreetconversation, and that I implore her as earnestly as I can, to allowherself to be seen and addressed by this her captive servant andforlorn knight. Tell her, too, that when she least expects it she willhear it announced that I have made an oath and vow after the fashionof that which the Marquis of Mantua made to avenge his nephew Baldwin,when he found him at the point of death in the heart of the mountains,which was, not to eat bread off a tablecloth, and other triflingmatters which he added, until he had avenged him; and I will makethe same to take no rest, and to roam the seven regions of the earthmore thoroughly than the Infante Don Pedro of Portugal ever roamedthem, until I have disenchanted her.' 'All that and more, you owe mylady,' the damsel's answer to me, and taking the four reals, insteadof making me a curtsey she cut a caper, springing two full yardsinto the air."

"O blessed God!" exclaimed Sancho aloud at this, "is it possiblethat such things can be in the world, and that enchanters andenchantments can have such power in it as to have changed mymaster's right senses into a craze so full of absurdity! O senor,senor, for God's sake, consider yourself, have a care for your honour,and give no credit to this silly stuff that has left you scant andshort of wits."

"Thou talkest in this way because thou lovest me, Sancho," saidDon Quixote; "and not being experienced in the things of the world,everything that has some difficulty about it seems to thee impossible;but time will pass, as I said before, and I will tell thee some of thethings I saw down there which will make thee believe what I haverelated now, the truth of which admits of neither reply nor question."



He who translated this great history from the original written byits first author, Cide Hamete Benengeli, says that on coming to thechapter giving the adventures of the cave of Montesinos he foundwritten on the margin of it, in Hamete's own hand, these exact words:

"I cannot convince or persuade myself that everything that iswritten in the preceding chapter could have precisely happened tothe valiant Don Quixote; and for this reason, that all theadventures that have occurred up to the present have been possible andprobable; but as for this one of the cave, I see no way of acceptingit as true, as it passes all reasonable bounds. For me to believe thatDon Quixote could lie, he being the most truthful gentleman and thenoblest knight of his time, is impossible; he would not have told alie though he were shot to death with arrows. On the other hand, Ireflect that he related and told the story with all thecircumstances detailed, and that he could not in so short a space havefabricated such a vast complication of absurdities; if, then, thisadventure seems apocryphal, it is no fault of mine; and so, withoutaffirming its falsehood or its truth, I write it down. Decide forthyself in thy wisdom, reader; for I am not bound, nor is it in mypower, to do more; though certain it is they say that at the time ofhis death he retracted, and said he had invented it, thinking itmatched and tallied with the adventures he had read of in hishistories." And then he goes on to say:

The cousin was amazed as well at Sancho's boldness as at thepatience of his master, and concluded that the good temper thelatter displayed arose from the happiness he felt at having seen hislady Dulcinea, even enchanted as she was; because otherwise thewords and language Sancho had addressed to him deserved a thrashing;for indeed he seemed to him to have been rather impudent to hismaster, to whom he now observed, "I, Senor Don Quixote of La Mancha,look upon the time I have spent in travelling with your worship asvery well employed, for I have gained four things in the course of it;the first is that I have made your acquaintance, which I considergreat good fortune; the second, that I have learned what the cave ofMontesinos contains, together with the transformations of Guadiana andof the lakes of Ruidera; which will be of use to me for the SpanishOvid that I have in hand; the third, to have discovered theantiquity of cards, that they were in use at least in the time ofCharlemagne, as may be inferred from the words you say Durandarteuttered when, at the end of that long spell while Montesinos wastalking to him, he woke up and said, 'Patience and shuffle.' Thisphrase and expression he could not have learned while he wasenchanted, but only before he had become so, in France, and in thetime of the aforesaid emperor Charlemagne. And this demonstration isjust the thing for me for that other book I am writing, the'Supplement to Polydore Vergil on the Invention of Antiquities;' for Ibelieve he never thought of inserting that of cards in his book, asI mean to do in mine, and it will be a matter of great importance,particularly when I can cite so grave and veracious an authority asSenor Durandarte. And the fourth thing is, that I have ascertained thesource of the river Guadiana, heretofore unknown to mankind."

"You are right," said Don Quixote; "but I should like to know, if byGod's favour they grant you a licence to print those books of yours-which I doubt- to whom do you mean dedicate them?"

"There are lords and grandees in Spain to whom they can bededicated," said the cousin.

"Not many," said Don Quixote; "not that they are unworthy of it, butbecause they do not care to accept books and incur the obligation ofmaking the return that seems due to the author's labour andcourtesy. One prince I know who makes up for all the rest, and more-how much more, if I ventured to say, perhaps I should stir up envyin many a noble breast; but let this stand over for some moreconvenient time, and let us go and look for some place to shelterourselves in to-night."

"Not far from this," said the cousin, "there is a hermitage, wherethere lives a hermit, who they say was a soldier, and who has thereputation of being a good Christian and a very intelligent andcharitable man. Close to the hermitage he has a small house which hebuilt at his own cost, but though small it is large enough for thereception of guests."

"Has this hermit any hens, do you think?" asked Sancho.

"Few hermits are without them," said Don Quixote; "for those wesee now-a-days are not like the hermits of the Egyptian deserts whowere clad in palm-leaves, and lived on the roots of the earth. Butdo not think that by praising these I am disparaging the others; all Imean to say is that the penances of those of the present day do notcome up to the asceticism and austerity of former times; but it doesnot follow from this that they are not all worthy; at least I thinkthem so; and at the worst the hypocrite who pretends to be good doesless harm than the open sinner."

Title: Don Quixote
Author: Miqeul de Cervantes
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