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Miqeul de Cervantes >> Don Quixote (page 114)


In pleasant conversation of this sort they passed out of the tentinto the wood, and the day was spent in visiting some of the posts andhiding-places, and then night closed in, not, however, asbrilliantly or tranquilly as might have been expected at the season,for it was then midsummer; but bringing with it a kind of haze thatgreatly aided the project of the duke and duchess; and thus, asnight began to fall, and a little after twilight set in, suddenlythe whole wood on all four sides seemed to be on fire, and shortlyafter, here, there, on all sides, a vast number of trumpets andother military instruments were heard, as if several troops of cavalrywere passing through the wood. The blaze of the fire and the noiseof the warlike instruments almost blinded the eyes and deafened theears of those that stood by, and indeed of all who were in the wood.Then there were heard repeated lelilies after the fashion of the Moorswhen they rush to battle; trumpets and clarions brayed, drums beat,fifes played, so unceasingly and so fast that he could not have hadany senses who did not lose them with the confused din of so manyinstruments. The duke was astounded, the duchess amazed, Don Quixotewondering, Sancho Panza trembling, and indeed, even they who wereaware of the cause were frightened. In their fear, silence fell uponthem, and a postillion, in the guise of a demon, passed in front ofthem, blowing, in lieu of a bugle, a huge hollow horn that gave outa horrible hoarse note.

"Ho there! brother courier," cried the duke, "who are you? Where areyou going? What troops are these that seem to be passing through thewood?"

To which the courier replied in a harsh, discordant voice, "I am thedevil; I am in search of Don Quixote of La Mancha; those who arecoming this way are six troops of enchanters, who are bringing on atriumphal car the peerless Dulcinea del Toboso; she comes underenchantment, together with the gallant Frenchman Montesinos, to giveinstructions to Don Quixote as to how, she the said lady, may bedisenchanted."

"If you were the devil, as you say and as your appearanceindicates," said the duke, "you would have known the said knight DonQuixote of La Mancha, for you have him here before you."

"By God and upon my conscience," said the devil, "I never observedit, for my mind is occupied with so many different things that I wasforgetting the main thing I came about."

"This demon must be an honest fellow and a good Christian," saidSancho; "for if he wasn't he wouldn't swear by God and his conscience;I feel sure now there must be good souls even in hell itself."

Without dismounting, the demon then turned to Don Quixote andsaid, "The unfortunate but valiant knight Montesinos sends me to thee,the Knight of the Lions (would that I saw thee in their claws),bidding me tell thee to wait for him wherever I may find thee, as hebrings with him her whom they call Dulcinea del Toboso, that he mayshow thee what is needful in order to disenchant her; and as I camefor no more I need stay no longer; demons of my sort be with thee, andgood angels with these gentles;" and so saying he blew his hugehorn, turned about and went off without waiting for a reply fromanyone.

They all felt fresh wonder, but particularly Sancho and Don Quixote;Sancho to see how, in defiance of the truth, they would have it thatDulcinea was enchanted; Don Quixote because he could not feel surewhether what had happened to him in the cave of Montesinos was true ornot; and as he was deep in these cogitations the duke said to him, "Doyou mean to wait, Senor Don Quixote?"

"Why not?" replied he; "here will I wait, fearless and firm,though all hell should come to attack me."

"Well then, if I see another devil or hear another horn like thelast, I'll wait here as much as in Flanders," said Sancho.

Night now closed in more completely, and many lights began to flitthrough the wood, just as those fiery exhalations from the earth, thatlook like shooting-stars to our eyes, flit through the heavens; afrightful noise, too, was heard, like that made by the solid wheelsthe ox-carts usually have, by the harsh, ceaseless creaking ofwhich, they say, the bears and wolves are put to flight, if therehappen to be any where they are passing. In addition to all thiscommotion, there came a further disturbance to increase the tumult,for now it seemed as if in truth, on all four sides of the wood,four encounters or battles were going on at the same time; in onequarter resounded the dull noise of a terrible cannonade, in anothernumberless muskets were being discharged, the shouts of the combatantssounded almost close at hand, and farther away the Moorish lelilieswere raised again and again. In a word, the bugles, the horns, theclarions, the trumpets, the drums, the cannon, the musketry, and aboveall the tremendous noise of the carts, all made up together a din soconfused and terrific that Don Quixote had need to summon up all hiscourage to brave it; but Sancho's gave way, and he fell fainting onthe skirt of the duchess's robe, who let him lie there and promptlybade them throw water in his face. This was done, and he came tohimself by the time that one of the carts with the creaking wheelsreached the spot. It was drawn by four plodding oxen all coveredwith black housings; on each horn they had fixed a large lighted waxtaper, and on the top of the cart was constructed a raised seat, onwhich sat a venerable old man with a beard whiter than the verysnow, and so long that it fell below his waist; he was dressed in along robe of black buckram; for as the cart was thickly set with amultitude of candles it was easy to make out everything that was onit. Leading it were two hideous demons, also clad in buckram, withcountenances so frightful that Sancho, having once seen them, shut hiseyes so as not to see them again. As soon as the cart came oppositethe spot the old man rose from his lofty seat, and standing up said ina loud voice, "I am the sage Lirgandeo," and without another wordthe cart then passed on. Behind it came another of the same form, withanother aged man enthroned, who, stopping the cart, said in a voice noless solemn than that of the first, "I am the sage Alquife, thegreat friend of Urganda the Unknown," and passed on. Then another cartcame by at the same pace, but the occupant of the throne was not oldlike the others, but a man stalwart and robust, and of a forbiddingcountenance, who as he came up said in a voice far hoarser and moredevilish, "I am the enchanter Archelaus, the mortal enemy of Amadis ofGaul and all his kindred," and then passed on. Having gone a shortdistance the three carts halted and the monotonous noise of theirwheels ceased, and soon after they heard another, not noise, but soundof sweet, harmonious music, of which Sancho was very glad, taking itto be a good sign; and said he to the duchess, from whom he did notstir a step, or for a single instant, "Senora, where there's musicthere can't be mischief."

"Nor where there are lights and it is bright," said the duchess;to which Sancho replied, "Fire gives light, and it's bright wherethere are bonfires, as we see by those that are all round us andperhaps may burn us; but music is a sign of mirth and merrymaking."

"That remains to be seen," said Don Quixote, who was listening toall that passed; and he was right, as is shown in the followingchapter.

CHAPTER XXXV

WHEREIN IS CONTINUED THE INSTRUCTION GIVEN TO DON QUIXOTE TOUCHINGTHE DISENCHANTMENT OF DULCINEA, TOGETHER WITH OTHER MARVELLOUS INCIDENTS

They saw advancing towards them, to the sound of this pleasingmusic, what they call a triumphal car, drawn by six grey mules withwhite linen housings, on each of which was mounted a penitent, robedalso in white, with a large lighted wax taper in his hand. The car wastwice or, perhaps, three times as large as the former ones, and infront and on the sides stood twelve more penitents, all as white assnow and all with lighted tapers, a spectacle to excite fear as wellas wonder; and on a raised throne was seated a nymph draped in amultitude of silver-tissue veils with an embroidery of countlessgold spangles glittering all over them, that made her appear, if notrichly, at least brilliantly, apparelled. She had her face coveredwith thin transparent sendal, the texture of which did not prevent thefair features of a maiden from being distinguished, while the numerouslights made it possible to judge of her beauty and of her years, whichseemed to be not less than seventeen but not to have yet reachedtwenty. Beside her was a figure in a robe of state, as they call it,reaching to the feet, while the head was covered with a black veil.But the instant the car was opposite the duke and duchess and DonQuixote the music of the clarions ceased, and then that of the lutesand harps on the car, and the figure in the robe rose up, and flingingit apart and removing the veil from its face, disclosed to theireyes the shape of Death itself, fleshless and hideous, at whichsight Don Quixote felt uneasy, Sancho frightened, and the duke andduchess displayed a certain trepidation. Having risen to its feet,this living death, in a sleepy voice and with a tongue hardly awake,held forth as follows:

I am that Merlin who the legends sayThe devil had for father, and the lieHath gathered credence with the lapse of time.Of magic prince, of Zoroastric loreMonarch and treasurer, with jealous eyeI view the efforts of the age to hideThe gallant deeds of doughty errant knights,Who are, and ever have been, dear to me.Enchanters and magicians and their kind

Are mostly hard of heart; not so am I;For mine is tender, soft, compassionate,And its delight is doing good to all.In the dim caverns of the gloomy Dis,Where, tracing mystic lines and characters,My soul abideth now, there came to meThe sorrow-laden plaint of her, the fair,The peerless Dulcinea del Toboso.I knew of her enchantment and her fate,From high-born dame to peasant wench transformedAnd touched with pity, first I turned the leavesOf countless volumes of my devilish craft,And then, in this grim grisly skeletonMyself encasing, hither have I comeTo show where lies the fitting remedyTo give relief in such a piteous case.O thou, the pride and pink of all that wear

The adamantine steel! O shining light,O beacon, polestar, path and guide of allWho, scorning slumber and the lazy down,Adopt the toilsome life of bloodstained arms!To thee, great hero who all praise transcends,La Mancha's lustre and Iberia's star,Don Quixote, wise as brave, to thee I say-For peerless Dulcinea del TobosoHer pristine form and beauty to regain,'T is needful that thy esquire Sancho shall,On his own sturdy buttocks bared to heaven,Three thousand and three hundred lashes lay,And that they smart and sting and hurt him well.Thus have the authors of her woe resolved.And this is, gentles, wherefore I have come.

"By all that's good," exclaimed Sancho at this, "I'll just as soongive myself three stabs with a dagger as three, not to say threethousand, lashes. The devil take such a way of disenchanting! Idon't see what my backside has got to do with enchantments. By God, ifSenor Merlin has not found out some other way of disenchanting thelady Dulcinea del Toboso, she may go to her grave enchanted."

"But I'll take you, Don Clown stuffed with garlic," said DonQuixote, "and tie you to a tree as naked as when your mother broughtyou forth, and give you, not to say three thousand three hundred,but six thousand six hundred lashes, and so well laid on that theywon't be got rid of if you try three thousand three hundred times;don't answer me a word or I'll tear your soul out."

On hearing this Merlin said, "That will not do, for the lashesworthy Sancho has to receive must be given of his own free will andnot by force, and at whatever time he pleases, for there is no fixedlimit assigned to him; but it is permitted him, if he likes to commuteby half the pain of this whipping, to let them be given by the hand ofanother, though it may be somewhat weighty."

"Not a hand, my own or anybody else's, weighty or weighable, shalltouch me," said Sancho. "Was it I that gave birth to the lady Dulcineadel Toboso, that my backside is to pay for the sins of her eyes? Mymaster, indeed, that's a part of her- for,he's always calling her'my life' and 'my soul,' and his stay and prop- may and ought towhip himself for her and take all the trouble required for herdisenchantment. But for me to whip myself! Abernuncio!"

As soon as Sancho had done speaking the nymph in silver that wasat the side of Merlin's ghost stood up, and removing the thin veilfrom her face disclosed one that seemed to all something more thanexceedingly beautiful; and with a masculine freedom from embarrassmentand in a voice not very like a lady's, addressing Sancho directly,said, "Thou wretched squire, soul of a pitcher, heart of a corktree, with bowels of flint and pebbles; if, thou impudent thief,they bade thee throw thyself down from some lofty tower; if, enemyof mankind, they asked thee to swallow a dozen of toads, two oflizards, and three of adders; if they wanted thee to slay thy wife andchildren with a sharp murderous scimitar, it would be no wonder forthee to show thyself stubborn and squeamish. But to make a piece ofwork about three thousand three hundred lashes, what every poor littlecharity-boy gets every month- it is enough to amaze, astonish, astoundthe compassionate bowels of all who hear it, nay, all who come to hearit in the course of time. Turn, O miserable, hard-hearted animal,turn, I say, those timorous owl's eyes upon these of mine that arecompared to radiant stars, and thou wilt see them weeping tricklingstreams and rills, and tracing furrows, tracks, and paths over thefair fields of my cheeks. Let it move thee, crafty, ill-conditionedmonster, to see my blooming youth- still in its teens, for I am notyet twenty- wasting and withering away beneath the husk of a rudepeasant wench; and if I do not appear in that shape now, it is aspecial favour Senor Merlin here has granted me, to the sole endthat my beauty may soften thee; for the tears of beauty in distressturn rocks into cotton and tigers into ewes. Lay on to that hide ofthine, thou great untamed brute, rouse up thy lusty vigour that onlyurges thee to eat and eat, and set free the softness of my flesh,the gentleness of my nature, and the fairness of my face. And ifthou wilt not relent or come to reason for me, do so for the sake ofthat poor knight thou hast beside thee; thy master I mean, whosesoul I can this moment see, how he has it stuck in his throat notten fingers from his lips, and only waiting for thy inflexible oryielding reply to make its escape by his mouth or go back again intohis stomach."

Title: Don Quixote
Author: Miqeul de Cervantes
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