Miqeul de Cervantes >> Don Quixote (page 107)

"I would lay a good wager with you, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "thatnow that you are talking on without anyone to stop you, you don't feela pain in your whole body. Talk away, my son, say whatever comesinto your head or mouth, for so long as you feel no pain, theirritation your impertinences give me will he a pleasure to me; and ifyou are so anxious to go home to your wife and children, God forbidthat I should prevent you; you have money of mine; see how long itis since we left our village this third time, and how much you can andought to earn every month, and pay yourself out of your own hand."

"When I worked for Tom Carrasco, the father of the bachelor SamsonCarrasco that your worship knows," replied Sancho, "I used to earn twoducats a month besides my food; I can't tell what I can earn with yourworship, though I know a knight-errant's squire has harder times of itthan he who works for a farmer; for after all, we who work forfarmers, however much we toil all day, at the worst, at night, we haveour olla supper and sleep in a bed, which I have not slept in sinceI have been in your worship's service, if it wasn't the short timewe were in Don Diego de Miranda's house, and the feast I had withthe skimmings I took off Camacho's pots, and what I ate, drank, andslept in Basilio's house; all the rest of the time I have beensleeping on the hard ground under the open sky, exposed to what theycall the inclemencies of heaven, keeping life in me with scraps ofcheese and crusts of bread, and drinking water either from thebrooks or from the springs we come to on these by-paths we travel."

"I own, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "that all thou sayest is true;how much, thinkest thou, ought I to give thee over and above whatTom Carrasco gave thee?"

"I think," said Sancho, "that if your worship was to add on tworeals a month I'd consider myself well paid; that is, as far as thewages of my labour go; but to make up to me for your worship'spledge and promise to me to give me the government of an island, itwould be fair to add six reals more, making thirty in all."

"Very good," said Don Quixote; "it is twenty-five days since we leftour village, so reckon up, Sancho, according to the wages you havemade out for yourself, and see how much I owe you in proportion, andpay yourself, as I said before, out of your own hand."

"O body o' me!" said Sancho, "but your worship is very much out inthat reckoning; for when it comes to the promise of the island we mustcount from the day your worship promised it to me to this present hourwe are at now."

"Well, how long is it, Sancho, since I promised it to you?" said DonQuixote.

"If I remember rightly," said Sancho, "it must be over twenty years,three days more or less."

Don Quixote gave himself a great slap on the forehead and began tolaugh heartily, and said he, "Why, I have not been wandering, eitherin the Sierra Morena or in the whole course of our sallies, but barelytwo months, and thou sayest, Sancho, that it is twenty years since Ipromised thee the island. I believe now thou wouldst have all themoney thou hast of mine go in thy wages. If so, and if that be thypleasure, I give it to thee now, once and for all, and much good mayit do thee, for so long as I see myself rid of such a good-for-nothingsquire I'll be glad to be left a pauper without a rap. But tell me,thou perverter of the squirely rules of knight-errantry, where hastthou ever seen or read that any knight-errant's squire made terms withhis lord, 'you must give me so much a month for serving you'?Plunge, scoundrel, rogue, monster- for such I take thee to be- plunge,I say, into the mare magnum of their histories; and if thou shalt findthat any squire ever said or thought what thou hast said now, I willlet thee nail it on my forehead, and give me, over and above, foursound slaps in the face. Turn the rein, or the halter, of thyDapple, and begone home; for one single step further thou shalt notmake in my company. O bread thanklessly received! O promisesill-bestowed! O man more beast than human being! Now, when I was aboutto raise thee to such a position, that, in spite of thy wife, theywould call thee 'my lord,' thou art leaving me? Thou art going nowwhen I had a firm and fixed intention of making thee lord of thebest island in the world? Well, as thou thyself hast said beforenow, honey is not for the mouth of the ass. Ass thou art, ass thouwilt be, and ass thou wilt end when the course of thy life is run; forI know it will come to its close before thou dost perceive ordiscern that thou art a beast."

Sancho regarded Don Quixote earnestly while he was giving him thisrating, and was so touched by remorse that the tears came to his eyes,and in a piteous and broken voice he said to him, "Master mine, Iconfess that, to be a complete ass, all I want is a tail; if yourworship will only fix one on to me, I'll look on it as rightly placed,and I'll serve you as an ass all the remaining days of my life.Forgive me and have pity on my folly, and remember I know butlittle, and, if I talk much, it's more from infirmity than malice; buthe who sins and mends commends himself to God."

"I should have been surprised, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "if thouhadst not introduced some bit of a proverb into thy speech. Well,well, I forgive thee, provided thou dost mend and not show thyselfin future so fond of thine own interest, but try to be of good cheerand take heart, and encourage thyself to look forward to thefulfillment of my promises, which, by being delayed, does not becomeimpossible."

Sancho said he would do so, and keep up his heart as best hecould. They then entered the grove, and Don Quixote settled himself atthe foot of an elm, and Sancho at that of a beech, for trees of thiskind and others like them always have feet but no hands. Sancho passedthe night in pain, for with the evening dews the blow of the staffmade itself felt all the more. Don Quixote passed it in hisnever-failing meditations; but, for all that, they had some winks ofsleep, and with the appearance of daylight they pursued theirjourney in quest of the banks of the famous Ebro, where that befellthem which will be told in the following chapter.



By stages as already described or left undescribed, two days afterquitting the grove Don Quixote and Sancho reached the river Ebro,and the sight of it was a great delight to Don Quixote as hecontemplated and gazed upon the charms of its banks, the clearnessof its stream, the gentleness of its current and the abundance ofits crystal waters; and the pleasant view revived a thousand tenderthoughts in his mind. Above all, he dwelt upon what he had seen in thecave of Montesinos; for though Master Pedro's ape had told him that ofthose things part was true, part false, he clung more to their truththan to their falsehood, the very reverse of Sancho, who held them allto be downright lies.

As they were thus proceeding, then, they discovered a small boat,without oars or any other gear, that lay at the water's edge tied tothe stem of a tree growing on the bank. Don Quixote looked allround, and seeing nobody, at once, without more ado, dismounted fromRocinante and bade Sancho get down from Dapple and tie both beastssecurely to the trunk of a poplar or willow that stood there. Sanchoasked him the reason of this sudden dismounting and tying. Don Quixotemade answer, "Thou must know, Sancho, that this bark is plainly, andwithout the possibility of any alternative, calling and inviting me toenter it, and in it go to give aid to some knight or other person ofdistinction in need of it, who is no doubt in some sore strait; forthis is the way of the books of chivalry and of the enchanters whofigure and speak in them. When a knight is involved in some difficultyfrom which he cannot be delivered save by the hand of anotherknight, though they may be at a distance of two or three thousandleagues or more one from the other, they either take him up on acloud, or they provide a bark for him to get into, and in less thanthe twinkling of an eye they carry him where they will and where hishelp is required; and so, Sancho, this bark is placed here for thesame purpose; this is as true as that it is now day, and ere thisone passes tie Dapple and Rocinante together, and then in God's handbe it to guide us; for I would not hold back from embarking, thoughbarefooted friars were to beg me."

"As that's the case," said Sancho, "and your worship chooses to givein to these- I don't know if I may call them absurdities- at everyturn, there's nothing for it but to obey and bow the head, bearingin mind the proverb, 'Do as thy master bids thee, and sit down totable with him;' but for all that, for the sake of easing myconscience, I warn your worship that it is my opinion this bark isno enchanted one, but belongs to some of the fishermen of the river,for they catch the best shad in the world here."

As Sancho said this, he tied the beasts, leaving them to the careand protection of the enchanters with sorrow enough in his heart.Don Quixote bade him not be uneasy about deserting the animals, "forhe who would carry themselves over such longinquous roads andregions would take care to feed them."

"I don't understand that logiquous," said Sancho, "nor have I everheard the word all the days of my life."

"Longinquous," replied Don Quixote, "means far off; but it is nowonder thou dost not understand it, for thou art not bound to knowLatin, like some who pretend to know it and don't."

"Now they are tied," said Sancho; "what are we to do next?"

"What?" said Don Quixote, "cross ourselves and weigh anchor; I mean,embark and cut the moorings by which the bark is held;" and the barkbegan to drift away slowly from the bank. But when Sancho sawhimself somewhere about two yards out in the river, he began totremble and give himself up for lost; but nothing distressed himmore than hearing Dapple bray and seeing Rocinante struggling to getloose, and said he to his master, "Dapple is braying in grief at ourleaving him, and Rocinante is trying to escape and plunge in after us.O dear friends, peace be with you, and may this madness that is takingus away from you, turned into sober sense, bring us back to you."And with this he fell weeping so bitterly, that Don Quixote said tohim, sharply and angrily, "What art thou afraid of, cowardly creature?What art thou weeping at, heart of butter-paste? Who pursues ormolests thee, thou soul of a tame mouse? What dost thou want,unsatisfied in the very heart of abundance? Art thou, perchance,tramping barefoot over the Riphaean mountains, instead of being seatedon a bench like an archduke on the tranquil stream of this pleasantriver, from which in a short space we shall come out upon the broadsea? But we must have already emerged and gone seven hundred oreight hundred leagues; and if I had here an astrolabe to take thealtitude of the pole, I could tell thee how many we have travelled,though either I know little, or we have already crossed or shallshortly cross the equinoctial line which parts the two oppositepoles midway."

"And when we come to that line your worship speaks of," said Sancho,"how far shall we have gone?"

"Very far," said Don Quixote, "for of the three hundred and sixtydegrees that this terraqueous globe contains, as computed byPtolemy, the greatest cosmographer known, we shall have travelledone-half when we come to the line I spoke of."

"By God," said Sancho, "your worship gives me a nice authority forwhat you say, putrid Dolly something transmogrified, or whatever itis."

Don Quixote laughed at the interpretation Sancho put upon"computed," and the name of the cosmographer Ptolemy, and said he,"Thou must know, Sancho, that with the Spaniards and those whoembark at Cadiz for the East Indies, one of the signs they have toshow them when they have passed the equinoctial line I told thee of,is, that the lice die upon everybody on board the ship, and not asingle one is left, or to be found in the whole vessel if they gaveits weight in gold for it; so, Sancho, thou mayest as well pass thyhand down thy thigh, and if thou comest upon anything alive we shallbe no longer in doubt; if not, then we have crossed."

"I don't believe a bit of it," said Sancho; "still, I'll do asyour worship bids me; though I don't know what need there is fortrying these experiments, for I can see with my own eyes that wehave not moved five yards away from the bank, or shifted two yardsfrom where the animals stand, for there are Rocinante and Dapple inthe very same place where we left them; and watching a point, as Ido now, I swear by all that's good, we are not stirring or moving atthe pace of an ant."

"Try the test I told thee of, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "anddon't mind any other, for thou knowest nothing about colures, lines,parallels, zodiacs, ecliptics, poles, solstices, equinoxes, planets,signs, bearings, the measures of which the celestial and terrestrialspheres are composed; if thou wert acquainted with all these things,or any portion of them, thou wouldst see clearly how many parallels wehave cut, what signs we have seen, and what constellations we haveleft behind and are now leaving behind. But again I tell thee, feeland hunt, for I am certain thou art cleaner than a sheet of smoothwhite paper."

Sancho felt, and passing his hand gently and carefully down to thehollow of his left knee, he looked up at his master and said,"Either the test is a false one, or we have not come to where yourworship says, nor within many leagues of it."

"Why, how so?" asked Don Quixote; "hast thou come upon aught?"

"Ay, and aughts," replied Sancho; and shaking his fingers hewashed his whole hand in the river along which the boat was quietlygliding in midstream, not moved by any occult intelligence orinvisible enchanter, but simply by the current, just there smoothand gentle.

Title: Don Quixote
Author: Miqeul de Cervantes
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