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Miqeul de Cervantes >> Don Quixote (page 11)


Having thus, with hot haste and speed, brought to a conclusion thesenever-till-now-seen ceremonies, Don Quixote was on thorns until he sawhimself on horseback sallying forth in quest of adventures; andsaddling Rocinante at once he mounted, and embracing his host, as hereturned thanks for his kindness in knighting him, he addressed him inlanguage so extraordinary that it is impossible to convey an idea ofit or report it. The landlord, to get him out of the inn, replied withno less rhetoric though with shorter words, and without calling uponhim to pay the reckoning let him go with a Godspeed.

CHAPTER IV

OF WHAT HAPPENED TO OUR KNIGHT WHEN HE LEFT THE INN

Day was dawning when Don Quixote quitted the inn, so happy, sogay, so exhilarated at finding himself now dubbed a knight, that hisjoy was like to burst his horse-girths. However, recalling theadvice of his host as to the requisites he ought to carry with him,especially that referring to money and shirts, he determined to gohome and provide himself with all, and also with a squire, for hereckoned upon securing a farm-labourer, a neighbour of his, a poor manwith a family, but very well qualified for the office of squire to aknight. With this object he turned his horse's head towards hisvillage, and Rocinante, thus reminded of his old quarters, stepped outso briskly that he hardly seemed to tread the earth.

He had not gone far, when out of a thicket on his right there seemedto come feeble cries as of some one in distress, and the instant heheard them he exclaimed, "Thanks be to heaven for the favour itaccords me, that it so soon offers me an opportunity of fulfilling theobligation I have undertaken, and gathering the fruit of myambition. These cries, no doubt, come from some man or woman in wantof help, and needing my aid and protection;" and wheeling, he turnedRocinante in the direction whence the cries seemed to proceed. Hehad gone but a few paces into the wood, when he saw a mare tied toan oak, and tied to another, and stripped from the waist upwards, ayouth of about fifteen years of age, from whom the cries came. Norwere they without cause, for a lusty farmer was flogging him with abelt and following up every blow with scoldings and commands,repeating, "Your mouth shut and your eyes open!" while the youthmade answer, "I won't do it again, master mine; by God's passion Iwon't do it again, and I'll take more care of the flock another time."

Seeing what was going on, Don Quixote said in an angry voice,"Discourteous knight, it ill becomes you to assail one who cannotdefend himself; mount your steed and take your lance" (for there was alance leaning against the oak to which the mare was tied), "and I willmake you know that you are behaving as a coward." The farmer, seeingbefore him this figure in full armour brandishing a lance over hishead, gave himself up for dead, and made answer meekly, "Sir Knight,this youth that I am chastising is my servant, employed by me to watcha flock of sheep that I have hard by, and he is so careless that Ilose one every day, and when I punish him for his carelessness andknavery he says I do it out of niggardliness, to escape paying him thewages I owe him, and before God, and on my soul, he lies."

"Lies before me, base clown!" said Don Quixote. "By the sun thatshines on us I have a mind to run you through with this lance. Pay himat once without another word; if not, by the God that rules us Iwill make an end of you, and annihilate you on the spot; release himinstantly."

The farmer hung his head, and without a word untied his servant,of whom Don Quixote asked how much his master owed him.

He replied, nine months at seven reals a month. Don Quixote added itup, found that it came to sixty-three reals, and told the farmer topay it down immediately, if he did not want to die for it.

The trembling clown replied that as he lived and by the oath hehad sworn (though he had not sworn any) it was not so much; forthere were to be taken into account and deducted three pairs ofshoes he had given him, and a real for two blood-lettings when hewas sick.

"All that is very well," said Don Quixote; "but let the shoes andthe blood-lettings stand as a setoff against the blows you havegiven him without any cause; for if he spoiled the leather of theshoes you paid for, you have damaged that of his body, and if thebarber took blood from him when he was sick, you have drawn it when hewas sound; so on that score he owes you nothing."

"The difficulty is, Sir Knight, that I have no money here; letAndres come home with me, and I will pay him all, real by real."

"I go with him!" said the youth. "Nay, God forbid! No, senor, notfor the world; for once alone with me, he would ray me like a SaintBartholomew."

"He will do nothing of the kind," said Don Quixote; "I have onlyto command, and he will obey me; and as he has sworn to me by theorder of knighthood which he has received, I leave him free, and Iguarantee the payment."

"Consider what you are saying, senor," said the youth; "thismaster of mine is not a knight, nor has he received any order ofknighthood; for he is Juan Haldudo the Rich, of Quintanar."

"That matters little," replied Don Quixote; "there may be Haldudosknights; moreover, everyone is the son of his works."

"That is true," said Andres; "but this master of mine- of what worksis he the son, when he refuses me the wages of my sweat and labour?"

"I do not refuse, brother Andres," said the farmer, "be goodenough to come along with me, and I swear by all the orders ofknighthood there are in the world to pay you as I have agreed, real byreal, and perfumed."

"For the perfumery I excuse you," said Don Quixote; "give it tohim in reals, and I shall be satisfied; and see that you do as youhave sworn; if not, by the same oath I swear to come back and hunt youout and punish you; and I shall find you though you should liecloser than a lizard. And if you desire to know who it is lays thiscommand upon you, that you be more firmly bound to obey it, knowthat I am the valorous Don Quixote of La Mancha, the undoer ofwrongs and injustices; and so, God be with you, and keep in mindwhat you have promised and sworn under those penalties that havebeen already declared to you."

So saying, he gave Rocinante the spur and was soon out of reach. Thefarmer followed him with his eyes, and when he saw that he had clearedthe wood and was no longer in sight, he turned to his boy Andres,and said, "Come here, my son, I want to pay you what I owe you, asthat undoer of wrongs has commanded me."

"My oath on it," said Andres, "your worship will be well advisedto obey the command of that good knight- may he live a thousand years-for, as he is a valiant and just judge, by Roque, if you do not payme, he will come back and do as he said."

"My oath on it, too," said the farmer; "but as I have a strongaffection for you, I want to add to the debt in order to add to thepayment;" and seizing him by the arm, he tied him up again, and gavehim such a flogging that he left him for dead.

"Now, Master Andres," said the farmer, "call on the undoer ofwrongs; you will find he won't undo that, though I am not sure thatI have quite done with you, for I have a good mind to flay you alive."But at last he untied him, and gave him leave to go look for his judgein order to put the sentence pronounced into execution.

Andres went off rather down in the mouth, swearing he would go tolook for the valiant Don Quixote of La Mancha and tell him exactlywhat had happened, and that all would have to be repaid him sevenfold;but for all that, he went off weeping, while his master stoodlaughing.

Thus did the valiant Don Quixote right that wrong, and, thoroughlysatisfied with what had taken place, as he considered he had made avery happy and noble beginning with his knighthood, he took the roadtowards his village in perfect self-content, saying in a low voice,"Well mayest thou this day call thyself fortunate above all onearth, O Dulcinea del Toboso, fairest of the fair! since it has fallento thy lot to hold subject and submissive to thy full will andpleasure a knight so renowned as is and will be Don Quixote of LaMancha, who, as all the world knows, yesterday received the order ofknighthood, and hath to-day righted the greatest wrong and grievancethat ever injustice conceived and cruelty perpetrated: who hath to-dayplucked the rod from the hand of yonder ruthless oppressor so wantonlylashing that tender child."

He now came to a road branching in four directions, andimmediately he was reminded of those cross-roads whereknights-errant used to stop to consider which road they should take.In imitation of them he halted for a while, and after having deeplyconsidered it, he gave Rocinante his head, submitting his own willto that of his hack, who followed out his first intention, which wasto make straight for his own stable. After he had gone about two milesDon Quixote perceived a large party of people, who, as afterwardsappeared, were some Toledo traders, on their way to buy silk atMurcia. There were six of them coming along under their sunshades,with four servants mounted, and three muleteers on foot. Scarcelyhad Don Quixote descried them when the fancy possessed him that thismust be some new adventure; and to help him to imitate as far as hecould those passages he had read of in his books, here seemed tocome one made on purpose, which he resolved to attempt. So with alofty bearing and determination he fixed himself firmly in hisstirrups, got his lance ready, brought his buckler before hisbreast, and planting himself in the middle of the road, stoodwaiting the approach of these knights-errant, for such he nowconsidered and held them to be; and when they had come near enoughto see and hear, he exclaimed with a haughty gesture, "All the worldstand, unless all the world confess that in all the world there isno maiden fairer than the Empress of La Mancha, the peerlessDulcinea del Toboso."

The traders halted at the sound of this language and the sight ofthe strange figure that uttered it, and from both figure andlanguage at once guessed the craze of their owner; they wished,however, to learn quietly what was the object of this confessionthat was demanded of them, and one of them, who was rather fond of ajoke and was very sharp-witted, said to him, "Sir Knight, we do notknow who this good lady is that you speak of; show her to us, for,if she be of such beauty as you suggest, with all our hearts andwithout any pressure we will confess the truth that is on your partrequired of us."

"If I were to show her to you," replied Don Quixote, "what meritwould you have in confessing a truth so manifest? The essentialpoint is that without seeing her you must believe, confess, affirm,swear, and defend it; else ye have to do with me in battle,ill-conditioned, arrogant rabble that ye are; and come ye on, one byone as the order of knighthood requires, or all together as is thecustom and vile usage of your breed, here do I bide and await yourelying on the justice of the cause I maintain."

"Sir Knight," replied the trader, "I entreat your worship in thename of this present company of princes, that, to save us fromcharging our consciences with the confession of a thing we havenever seen or heard of, and one moreover so much to the prejudice ofthe Empresses and Queens of the Alcarria and Estremadura, your worshipwill be pleased to show us some portrait of this lady, though it be nobigger than a grain of wheat; for by the thread one gets at theball, and in this way we shall be satisfied and easy, and you willbe content and pleased; nay, I believe we are already so far agreedwith you that even though her portrait should show her blind of oneeye, and distilling vermilion and sulphur from the other, we wouldnevertheless, to gratify your worship, say all in her favour thatyou desire."

"She distils nothing of the kind, vile rabble," said Don Quixote,burning with rage, "nothing of the kind, I say, only ambergris andcivet in cotton; nor is she one-eyed or humpbacked, but straighterthan a Guadarrama spindle: but ye must pay for the blasphemy ye haveuttered against beauty like that of my lady."

And so saying, he charged with levelled lance against the one whohad spoken, with such fury and fierceness that, if luck had notcontrived that Rocinante should stumble midway and come down, it wouldhave gone hard with the rash trader. Down went Rocinante, and overwent his master, rolling along the ground for some distance; andwhen he tried to rise he was unable, so encumbered was he withlance, buckler, spurs, helmet, and the weight of his old armour; andall the while he was struggling to get up he kept saying, "Fly not,cowards and caitiffs! stay, for not by my fault, but my horse's, amI stretched here."

One of the muleteers in attendance, who could not have had much goodnature in him, hearing the poor prostrate man blustering in thisstyle, was unable to refrain from giving him an answer on his ribs;and coming up to him he seized his lance, and having broken it inpieces, with one of them he began so to belabour our Don Quixote that,notwithstanding and in spite of his armour, he milled him like ameasure of wheat. His masters called out not to lay on so hard andto leave him alone, but the muleteers blood was up, and he did notcare to drop the game until he had vented the rest of his wrath, andgathering up the remaining fragments of the lance he finished with adischarge upon the unhappy victim, who all through the storm of sticksthat rained on him never ceased threatening heaven, and earth, and thebrigands, for such they seemed to him. At last the muleteer was tired,and the traders continued their journey, taking with them matter fortalk about the poor fellow who had been cudgelled. He when he foundhimself alone made another effort to rise; but if he was unable whenwhole and sound, how was he to rise after having been thrashed andwell-nigh knocked to pieces? And yet he esteemed himself fortunate, asit seemed to him that this was a regular knight-errant's mishap, andentirely, he considered, the fault of his horse. However, batteredin body as he was, to rise was beyond his power.

Title: Don Quixote
Author: Miqeul de Cervantes
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