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Miqeul de Cervantes >> Don Quixote (page 105)


Here Don Quixote called out, "Child, child, go straight on with yourstory, and don't run into curves and slants, for to establish a factclearly there is need of a great deal of proof and confirmation;"and said Master Pedro from within, "Boy, stick to your text and doas the gentleman bids you; it's the best plan; keep to your plainsong, and don't attempt harmonies, for they are apt to break down frombeing over fine."

"I will," said the boy, and he went on to say, "This figure that yousee here on horseback, covered with a Gascon cloak, is Don Gaiferoshimself, whom his wife, now avenged of the insult of the amorous Moor,and taking her stand on the balcony of the tower with a calmer andmore tranquil countenance, has perceived without recognising him;and she addresses her husband, supposing him to be some traveller, andholds with him all that conversation and colloquy in the ballad that runs-

If you, sir knight, to France are bound,Oh! for Gaiferos ask-

which I do not repeat here because prolixity begets disgust; sufficeit to observe how Don Gaiferos discovers himself, and that by herjoyful gestures Melisendra shows us she has recognised him; and whatis more, we now see she lowers herself from the balcony to placeherself on the haunches of her good husband's horse. But ah! unhappylady, the edge of her petticoat has caught on one of the bars of thebalcony and she is left hanging in the air, unable to reach theground. But you see how compassionate heaven sends aid in our sorestneed; Don Gaiferos advances, and without minding whether the richpetticoat is torn or not, he seizes her and by force brings her to theground, and then with one jerk places her on the haunches of hishorse, astraddle like a man, and bids her hold on tight and claspher arms round his neck, crossing them on his breast so as not tofall, for the lady Melisendra was not used to that style of riding.You see, too, how the neighing of the horse shows his satisfactionwith the gallant and beautiful burden he bears in his lord and lady.You see how they wheel round and quit the city, and in joy andgladness take the road to Paris. Go in peace, O peerless pair oftrue lovers! May you reach your longed-for fatherland in safety, andmay fortune interpose no impediment to your prosperous journey; maythe eyes of your friends and kinsmen behold you enjoying in peaceand tranquillity the remaining days of your life- and that they may beas many as those of Nestor!"

Here Master Pedro called out again and said, "Simplicity, boy!None of your high flights; all affectation is bad."

The interpreter made no answer, but went on to say, "There was nowant of idle eyes, that see everything, to see Melisendra come downand mount, and word was brought to King Marsilio, who at once gaveorders to sound the alarm; and see what a stir there is, and how thecity is drowned with the sound of the bells pealing in the towers ofall the mosques."

"Nay, nay," said Don Quixote at this; "on that point of the bellsMaster Pedro is very inaccurate, for bells are not in use among theMoors; only kettledrums, and a kind of small trumpet somewhat like ourclarion; to ring bells this way in Sansuena is unquestionably agreat absurdity."

On hearing this, Master Pedro stopped ringing, and said, "Don't lookinto trifles, Senor Don Quixote, or want to have things up to apitch of perfection that is out of reach. Are there not almost everyday a thousand comedies represented all round us full of thousandsof inaccuracies and absurdities, and, for all that, they have asuccessful run, and are listened to not only with applause, but withadmiration and all the rest of it? Go on, boy, and don't mind; forso long as I fill my pouch, no matter if I show as many inaccuraciesas there are motes in a sunbeam."

"True enough," said Don Quixote; and the boy went on: "See what anumerous and glittering crowd of horsemen issues from the city inpursuit of the two faithful lovers, what a blowing of trumpets thereis, what sounding of horns, what beating of drums and tabors; I fearme they will overtake them and bring them back tied to the tail oftheir own horse, which would be a dreadful sight."

Don Quixote, however, seeing such a swarm of Moors and hearingsuch a din, thought it would be right to aid the fugitives, andstanding up he exclaimed in a loud voice, "Never, while I live, will Ipermit foul play to be practised in my presence on such a famousknight and fearless lover as Don Gaiferos. Halt! ill-born rabble,follow him not nor pursue him, or ye will have to reckon with me inbattle!" and suiting the action to the word, he drew his sword, andwith one bound placed himself close to the show, and with unexampledrapidity and fury began to shower down blows on the puppet troop ofMoors, knocking over some, decapitating others, maiming this one anddemolishing that; and among many more he delivered one down strokewhich, if Master Pedro had not ducked, made himself small, and got outof the way, would have sliced off his head as easily as if it had beenmade of almond-paste. Master Pedro kept shouting, "Hold hard! SenorDon Quixote! can't you see they're not real Moors you're knocking downand killing and destroying, but only little pasteboard figures!Look- sinner that I am!- how you're wrecking and ruining all thatI'm worth!" But in spite of this, Don Quixote did not leave offdischarging a continuous rain of cuts, slashes, downstrokes, andbackstrokes, and at length, in less than the space of two credos, hebrought the whole show to the ground, with all its fittings andfigures shivered and knocked to pieces, King Marsilio badly wounded,and the Emperor Charlemagne with his crown and head split in two.The whole audience was thrown into confusion, the ape fled to the roofof the inn, the cousin was frightened, and even Sancho Panza himselfwas in mighty fear, for, as he swore after the storm was over, hehad never seen his master in such a furious passion.

The complete destruction of the show being thus accomplished, DonQuixote became a little calmer, said, "I wish I had here before me nowall those who do not or will not believe how useful knights-errant arein the world; just think, if I had not been here present, what wouldhave become of the brave Don Gaiferos and the fair Melisendra!Depend upon it, by this time those dogs would have overtaken themand inflicted some outrage upon them. So, then, long liveknight-errantry beyond everything living on earth this day!"

"Let it live, and welcome," said Master Pedro at this in a feeblevoice, "and let me die, for I am so unfortunate that I can say withKing Don Rodrigo-

Yesterday was I lord of SpainTo-day I've not a turret leftThat I may call mine own.

Not half an hour, nay, barely a minute ago, I saw myself lord of kingsand emperors, with my stables filled with countless horses, and mytrunks and bags with gay dresses unnumbered; and now I find myselfruined and laid low, destitute and a beggar, and above all withoutmy ape, for, by my faith, my teeth will have to sweat for it beforeI have him caught; and all through the reckless fury of sir knighthere, who, they say, protects the fatherless, and rights wrongs, anddoes other charitable deeds; but whose generous intentions have beenfound wanting in my case only, blessed and praised be the highestheavens! Verily, knight of the rueful figure he must be to havedisfigured mine."

Sancho Panza was touched by Master Pedro's words, and said to him,"Don't weep and lament, Master Pedro; you break my heart; let metell you my master, Don Quixote, is so catholic and scrupulous aChristian that, if he can make out that he has done you any wrong,he will own it, and be willing to pay for it and make it good, andsomething over and above."

"Only let Senor Don Quixote pay me for some part of the work hehas destroyed," said Master Pedro, "and I would be content, and hisworship would ease his conscience, for he cannot be saved who keepswhat is another's against the owner's will, and makes no restitution."

"That is true," said Don Quixote; "but at present I am not awarethat I have got anything of yours, Master Pedro."

"What!" returned Master Pedro; "and these relics lying here on thebare hard ground- what scattered and shattered them but the invinciblestrength of that mighty arm? And whose were the bodies they belongedto but mine? And what did I get my living by but by them?"

"Now am I fully convinced," said Don Quixote, "of what I had manya time before believed; that the enchanters who persecute me donothing more than put figures like these before my eyes, and thenchange and turn them into what they please. In truth and earnest, Iassure you gentlemen who now hear me, that to me everything that hastaken place here seemed to take place literally, that Melisendra wasMelisendra, Don Gaiferos Don Gaiferos, Marsilio Marsilio, andCharlemagne Charlemagne. That was why my anger was roused; and to befaithful to my calling as a knight-errant I sought to give aid andprotection to those who fled, and with this good intention I didwhat you have seen. If the result has been the opposite of what Iintended, it is no fault of mine, but of those wicked beings thatpersecute me; but, for all that, I am willing to condemn myself incosts for this error of mine, though it did not proceed from malice;let Master Pedro see what he wants for the spoiled figures, for Iagree to pay it at once in good and current money of Castile."

Master Pedro made him a bow, saying, "I expected no less of the rareChristianity of the valiant Don Quixote of La Mancha, true helperand protector of all destitute and needy vagabonds; master landlordhere and the great Sancho Panza shall be the arbitrators andappraisers between your worship and me of what these dilapidatedfigures are worth or may be worth."

The landlord and Sancho consented, and then Master Pedro picked upfrom the ground King Marsilio of Saragossa with his head off, andsaid, "Here you see how impossible it is to restore this king to hisformer state, so I think, saving your better judgments, that for hisdeath, decease, and demise, four reals and a half may be given me."

"Proceed," said Don Quixote.

"Well then, for this cleavage from top to bottom," continuedMaster Pedro, taking up the split Emperor Charlemagne, "it would notbe much if I were to ask five reals and a quarter."

"It's not little," said Sancho.

"Nor is it much," said the landlord; "make it even, and say fivereals."

"Let him have the whole five and a quarter," said Don Quixote;"for the sum total of this notable disaster does not stand on aquarter more or less; and make an end of it quickly, Master Pedro, forit's getting on to supper-time, and I have some hints of hunger."

"For this figure," said Master Pedro, "that is without a nose, andwants an eye, and is the fair Melisendra, I ask, and I am reasonablein my charge, two reals and twelve maravedis."

"The very devil must be in it," said Don Quixote, "if Melisendra andher husband are not by this time at least on the French border, forthe horse they rode on seemed to me to fly rather than gallop; soyou needn't try to sell me the cat for the hare, showing me here anoseless Melisendra when she is now, may be, enjoying herself at herease with her husband in France. God help every one to his own, MasterPedro, and let us all proceed fairly and honestly; and now go on."

Master Pedro, perceiving that Don Quixote was beginning to wander,and return to his original fancy, was not disposed to let himescape, so he said to him, "This cannot be Melisendra, but must be oneof the damsels that waited on her; so if I'm given sixty maravedis forher, I'll be content and sufficiently paid."

And so he went on, putting values on ever so many more smashedfigures, which, after the two arbitrators had adjusted them to thesatisfaction of both parties, came to forty reals andthree-quarters; and over and above this sum, which Sancho at oncedisbursed, Master Pedro asked for two reals for his trouble incatching the ape.

"Let him have them, Sancho," said Don Quixote; "not to catch theape, but to get drunk; and two hundred would I give this minute forthe good news, to anyone who could tell me positively, that the ladyDona Melisandra and Senor Don Gaiferos were now in France and withtheir own people."

"No one could tell us that better than my ape," said Master Pedro;"but there's no devil that could catch him now; I suspect, however,that affection and hunger will drive him to come looking for meto-night; but to-morrow will soon be here and we shall see."

In short, the puppet-show storm passed off, and all supped inpeace and good fellowship at Don Quixote's expense, for he was theheight of generosity. Before it was daylight the man with the lancesand halberds took his departure, and soon after daybreak the cousinand the page came to bid Don Quixote farewell, the former returninghome, the latter resuming his journey, towards which, to help him, DonQuixote gave him twelve reals. Master Pedro did not care to engagein any more palaver with Don Quixote, whom he knew right well; so herose before the sun, and having got together the remains of his showand caught his ape, he too went off to seek his adventures. Thelandlord, who did not know Don Quixote, was as much astonished athis mad freaks as at his generosity. To conclude, Sancho, by hismaster's orders, paid him very liberally, and taking leave of him theyquitted the inn at about eight in the morning and took to the road,where we will leave them to pursue their journey, for this isnecessary in order to allow certain other matters to be set forth,which are required to clear up this famous history.

CHAPTER XXVII

WHEREIN IT IS SHOWN WHO MASTER PEDRO AND HIS APE WERE, TOGETHER WITHTHE MISHAP DON QUIXOTE HAD IN THE BRAYING ADVENTURE, WHICH HE DIDNOT CONCLUDE AS HE WOULD HAVE LIKED OR AS HE HAD EXPECTED

Cide Hamete, the chronicler of this great history, begins thischapter with these words, "I swear as a Catholic Christian;" withregard to which his translator says that Cide Hamete's swearing as aCatholic Christian, he being- as no doubt he was- a Moor, only meantthat, just as a Catholic Christian taking an oath swears, or oughtto swear, what is true, and tell the truth in what he avers, so he wastelling the truth, as much as if he swore as a Catholic Christian,in all he chose to write about Quixote, especially in declaring whoMaster Pedro was and what was the divining ape that astonished all thevillages with his divinations. He says, then, that he who has read theFirst Part of this history will remember well enough the Gines dePasamonte whom, with other galley slaves, Don Quixote set free inthe Sierra Morena: a kindness for which he afterwards got poorthanks and worse payment from that evil-minded, ill-conditioned set.This Gines de Pasamonte- Don Ginesillo de Parapilla, Don Quixotecalled him- it was that stole Dapple from Sancho Panza; which, becauseby the fault of the printers neither the how nor the when was statedin the First Part, has been a puzzle to a good many people, whoattribute to the bad memory of the author what was the error of thepress. In fact, however, Gines stole him while Sancho Panza was asleepon his back, adopting the plan and device that Brunello had recourseto when he stole Sacripante's horse from between his legs at the siegeof Albracca; and, as has been told, Sancho afterwards recovered him.This Gines, then, afraid of being caught by the officers of justice,who were looking for him to punish him for his numberlessrascalities and offences (which were so many and so great that hehimself wrote a big book giving an account of them), resolved to shifthis quarters into the kingdom of Aragon, and cover up his left eye,and take up the trade of a puppet-showman; for this, as well asjuggling, he knew how to practise to perfection. From some releasedChristians returning from Barbary, it so happened, he bought theape, which he taught to mount upon his shoulder on his making acertain sign, and to whisper, or seem to do so, in his ear. Thusprepared, before entering any village whither he was bound with hisshow and his ape, he used to inform himself at the nearest village, orfrom the most likely person he could find, as to what particularthings had happened there, and to whom; and bearing them well in mind,the first thing be did was to exhibit his show, sometimes one story,sometimes another, but all lively, amusing, and familiar. As soon asthe exhibition was over he brought forward the accomplishments ofhis ape, assuring the public that he divined all the past and thepresent, but as to the future he had no skill. For each questionanswered he asked two reals, and for some he made a reduction, just ashe happened to feel the pulse of the questioners; and when now andthen he came to houses where things that he knew of had happened tothe people living there, even if they did not ask him a question,not caring to pay for it, he would make the sign to the ape and thendeclare that it had said so and so, which fitted the case exactly.In this way he acquired a prodigious name and all ran after him; onother occasions, being very crafty, he would answer in such a way thatthe answers suited the questions; and as no one cross-questioned himor pressed him to tell how his ape divined, he made fools of themall and filled his pouch. The instant he entered the inn he knew DonQuixote and Sancho, and with that knowledge it was easy for him toastonish them and all who were there; but it would have cost himdear had Don Quixote brought down his hand a little lower when hecut off King Marsilio's head and destroyed all his horsemen, asrelated in the preceeding chapter.

Title: Don Quixote
Author: Miqeul de Cervantes
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