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Miqeul de Cervantes >> Don Quixote (page 106)


So much for Master Pedro and his ape; and now to return to DonQuixote of La Mancha. After he had left the inn he determined tovisit, first of all, the banks of the Ebro and that neighbourhood,before entering the city of Saragossa, for the ample time there wasstill to spare before the jousts left him enough for all. With thisobject in view he followed the road and travelled along it for twodays, without meeting any adventure worth committing to writinguntil on the third day, as he was ascending a hill, he heard a greatnoise of drums, trumpets, and musket-shots. At first he imaginedsome regiment of soldiers was passing that way, and to see them hespurred Rocinante and mounted the hill. On reaching the top he sawat the foot of it over two hundred men, as it seemed to him, armedwith weapons of various sorts, lances, crossbows, partisans, halberds,and pikes, and a few muskets and a great many bucklers. He descendedthe slope and approached the band near enough to see distinctly theflags, make out the colours and distinguish the devices they bore,especially one on a standard or ensign of white satin, on whichthere was painted in a very life-like style an ass like a little sard,with its head up, its mouth open and its tongue out, as if it werein the act and attitude of braying; and round it were inscribed inlarge characters these two lines-

They did not bray in vain,Our alcaldes twain.

From this device Don Quixote concluded that these people must befrom the braying town, and he said so to Sancho, explaining to himwhat was written on the standard. At the same time be observed thatthe man who had told them about the matter was wrong in saying thatthe two who brayed were regidors, for according to the lines of thestandard they were alcaldes. To which Sancho replied, "Senor,there's nothing to stick at in that, for maybe the regidors who brayedthen came to he alcaldes of their town afterwards, and so they maygo by both titles; moreover, it has nothing to do with the truth ofthe story whether the brayers were alcaldes or regidors, provided atany rate they did bray; for an alcalde is just as likely to bray asa regidor." They perceived, in short, clearly that the town whichhad been twitted had turned out to do battle with some other thathad jeered it more than was fair or neighbourly.

Don Quixote proceeded to join them, not a little to Sancho'suneasiness, for he never relished mixing himself up in expeditionsof that sort. The members of the troop received him into the midstof them, taking him to he some one who was on their side. Don Quixote,putting up his visor, advanced with an easy bearing and demeanour tothe standard with the ass, and all the chief men of the armygathered round him to look at him, staring at him with the usualamazement that everybody felt on seeing him for the first time. DonQuixote, seeing them examining him so attentively, and that none ofthem spoke to him or put any question to him, determined to takeadvantage of their silence; so, breaking his own, he lifted up hisvoice and said, "Worthy sirs, I entreat you as earnestly as I cannot to interrupt an argument I wish to address to you, until youfind it displeases or wearies you; and if that come to pass, on theslightest hint you give me I will put a seal upon my lips and a gagupon my tongue."

They all bade him say what he liked, for they would listen to himwillingly.

With this permission Don Quixote went on to say, "I, sirs, am aknight-errant whose calling is that of arms, and whose profession isto protect those who require protection, and give help to such asstand in need of it. Some days ago I became acquainted with yourmisfortune and the cause which impels you to take up arms again andagain to revenge yourselves upon your enemies; and having many timesthought over your business in my mind, I find that, according to thelaws of combat, you are mistaken in holding yourselves insulted; for aprivate individual cannot insult an entire community; unless it beby defying it collectively as a traitor, because he cannot tell who inparticular is guilty of the treason for which he defies it. Of this wehave an example in Don Diego Ordonez de Lara, who defied the wholetown of Zamora, because he did not know that Vellido Dolfos alonehad committed the treachery of slaying his king; and therefore hedefied them all, and the vengeance and the reply concerned all;though, to be sure, Senor Don Diego went rather too far, indeed verymuch beyond the limits of a defiance; for he had no occasion to defythe dead, or the waters, or the fishes, or those yet unborn, and allthe rest of it as set forth; but let that pass, for when angerbreaks out there's no father, governor, or bridle to check the tongue.The case being, then, that no one person can insult a kingdom,province, city, state, or entire community, it is clear there is noreason for going out to avenge the defiance of such an insult,inasmuch as it is not one. A fine thing it would be if the people ofthe clock town were to be at loggerheads every moment with everyonewho called them by that name, -or the Cazoleros, Berengeneros,Ballenatos, Jaboneros, or the bearers of all the other names andtitles that are always in the mouth of the boys and common people!It would be a nice business indeed if all these illustrious citieswere to take huff and revenge themselves and go about perpetuallymaking trombones of their swords in every petty quarrel! No, no; Godforbid! There are four things for which sensible men andwell-ordered States ought to take up arms, draw their swords, and risktheir persons, lives, and properties. The first is to defend theCatholic faith; the second, to defend one's life, which is inaccordance with natural and divine law; the third, in defence of one'shonour, family, and property; the fourth, in the service of one's kingin a just war; and if to these we choose to add a fifth (which maybe included in the second), in defence of one's country. To thesefive, as it were capital causes, there may be added some others thatmay be just and reasonable, and make it a duty to take up arms; but totake them up for trifles and things to laugh at and he amused byrather than offended, looks as though he who did so was altogetherwanting in common sense. Moreover, to take an unjust revenge (andthere cannot be any just one) is directly opposed to the sacred lawthat we acknowledge, wherein we are commanded to do good to ourenemies and to love them that hate us; a command which, though itseems somewhat difficult to obey, is only so to those who have in themless of God than of the world, and more of the flesh than of thespirit; for Jesus Christ, God and true man, who never lied, andcould not and cannot lie, said, as our law-giver, that his yoke waseasy and his burden light; he would not, therefore, have laid anycommand upon us that it was impossible to obey. Thus, sirs, you arebound to keep quiet by human and divine law."

"The devil take me," said Sancho to himself at this, "but thismaster of mine is a tologian; or, if not, faith, he's as like one asone egg is like another."

Don Quixote stopped to take breath, and, observing that silencewas still preserved, had a mind to continue his discourse, and wouldhave done so had not Sancho interposed with his smartness; for he,seeing his master pause, took the lead, saying, "My lord Don Quixoteof La Mancha, who once was called the Knight of the RuefulCountenance, but now is called the Knight of the Lions, is a gentlemanof great discretion who knows Latin and his mother tongue like abachelor, and in everything that he deals with or advises proceedslike a good soldier, and has all the laws and ordinances of whatthey call combat at his fingers' ends; so you have nothing to do butto let yourselves be guided by what he says, and on my head be it ifit is wrong. Besides which, you have been told that it is folly totake offence at merely hearing a bray. I remember when I was a boy Ibrayed as often as I had a fancy, without anyone hindering me, andso elegantly and naturally that when I brayed all the asses in thetown would bray; but I was none the less for that the son of myparents who were greatly respected; and though I was envied because ofthe gift by more than one of the high and mighty ones of the town, Idid not care two farthings for it; and that you may see I am tellingthe truth, wait a bit and listen, for this art, like swimming, oncelearnt is never forgotten;" and then, taking hold of his nose, hebegan to bray so vigorously that all the valleys around rang again.

One of those, however, that stood near him, fancying he wasmocking them, lifted up a long staff he had in his hand and smotehim such a blow with it that Sancho dropped helpless to the ground.Don Quixote, seeing him so roughly handled, attacked the man who hadstruck him lance in hand, but so many thrust themselves between themthat he could not avenge him. Far from it, finding a shower ofstones rained upon him, and crossbows and muskets unnumberedlevelled at him, he wheeled Rocinante round and, as fast as his bestgallop could take him, fled from the midst of them, commending himselfto God with all his heart to deliver him out of this peril, in dreadevery step of some ball coming in at his back and coming out at hisbreast, and every minute drawing his breath to see whether it had gonefrom him. The members of the band, however, were satisfied with seeinghim take to flight, and did not fire on him. They put up Sancho,scarcely restored to his senses, on his ass, and let him go afterhis master; not that he was sufficiently in his wits to guide thebeast, but Dapple followed the footsteps of Rocinante, from whom hecould not remain a moment separated. Don Quixote having got some wayoff looked back, and seeing Sancho coming, waited for him, as heperceived that no one followed him. The men of the troop stood theirground till night, and as the enemy did not come out to battle, theyreturned to their town exulting; and had they been aware of theancient custom of the Greeks, they would have erected a trophy onthe spot.

CHAPTER XXVIII

OF MATTERS THAT BENENGELI SAYS HE WHO READS THEM WILL KNOW, IF HEREADS THEM WITH ATTENTION

When the brave man flees, treachery is manifest and it is for wisemen to reserve themselves for better occasions. This proved to bethe case with Don Quixote, who, giving way before the fury of thetownsfolk and the hostile intentions of the angry troop, took toflight and, without a thought of Sancho or the danger in which hewas leaving him, retreated to such a distance as he thought made himsafe. Sancho, lying across his ass, followed him, as has been said,and at length came up, having by this time recovered his senses, andon joining him let himself drop off Dapple at Rocinante's feet,sore, bruised, and belaboured. Don Quixote dismounted to examine hiswounds, but finding him whole from head to foot, he said to him,angrily enough, "In an evil hour didst thou take to braying, Sancho!Where hast thou learned that it is well done to mention the rope inthe house of the man that has been hanged? To the music of brayswhat harmonies couldst thou expect to get but cudgels? Give thanksto God, Sancho, that they signed the cross on thee just now with astick, and did not mark thee per signum crucis with a cutlass."

"I'm not equal to answering," said Sancho, "for I feel as if I wasspeaking through my shoulders; let us mount and get away from this;I'll keep from braying, but not from saying that knights-errant flyand leave their good squires to be pounded like privet, or made mealof at the hands of their enemies."

"He does not fly who retires," returned Don Quixote; "for I wouldhave thee know, Sancho, that the valour which is not based upon afoundation of prudence is called rashness, and the exploits of therash man are to be attributed rather to good fortune than tocourage; and so I own that I retired, but not that I fled; and thereinI have followed the example of many valiant men who have reservedthemselves for better times; the histories are full of instances ofthis, but as it would not be any good to thee or pleasure to me, Iwill not recount them to thee now."

Sancho was by this time mounted with the help of Don Quixote, whothen himself mounted Rocinante, and at a leisurely pace they proceededto take shelter in a grove which was in sight about a quarter of aleague off. Every now and then Sancho gave vent to deep sighs anddismal groans, and on Don Quixote asking him what caused such acutesuffering, he replied that, from the end of his back-bone up to thenape of his neck, he was so sore that it nearly drove him out of hissenses.

"The cause of that soreness," said Don Quixote, "will be, nodoubt, that the staff wherewith they smote thee being a very long one,it caught thee all down the back, where all the parts that are soreare situated, and had it reached any further thou wouldst be sorerstill."

"By God," said Sancho, "your worship has relieved me of a greatdoubt, and cleared up the point for me in elegant style! Body o' me!is the cause of my soreness such a mystery that there's any need totell me I am sore everywhere the staff hit me? If it was my anklesthat pained me there might be something in going divining why theydid, but it is not much to divine that I'm sore where they thrashedme. By my faith, master mine, the ills of others hang by a hair; everyday I am discovering more and more how little I have to hope forfrom keeping company with your worship; for if this time you haveallowed me to be drubbed, the next time, or a hundred times more,we'll have the blanketings of the other day over again, and all theother pranks which, if they have fallen on my shoulders now, will bethrown in my teeth by-and-by. I would do a great deal better (if I wasnot an ignorant brute that will never do any good all my life), Iwould do a great deal better, I say, to go home to my wife andchildren and support them and bring them up on what God may pleaseto give me, instead of following your worship along roads that leadnowhere and paths that are none at all, with little to drink andless to eat. And then when it comes to sleeping! Measure out sevenfeet on the earth, brother squire, and if that's not enough for you,take as many more, for you may have it all your own way and stretchyourself to your heart's content. Oh that I could see burnt and turnedto ashes the first man that meddled with knight-errantry or at anyrate the first who chose to be squire to such fools as all theknights-errant of past times must have been! Of those of the presentday I say nothing, because, as your worship is one of them, Irespect them, and because I know your worship knows a point morethan the devil in all you say and think."

Title: Don Quixote
Author: Miqeul de Cervantes
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