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Miqeul de Cervantes >> Don Quixote (page 15)


"Most certainly, senor," replied Sancho, "your worship shall befully obeyed in this matter; all the more as of myself I am peacefuland no friend to mixing in strife and quarrels: it is true that asregards the defence of my own person I shall not give much heed tothose laws, for laws human and divine allow each one to defend himselfagainst any assailant whatever."

"That I grant," said Don Quixote, "but in this matter of aiding meagainst knights thou must put a restraint upon thy naturalimpetuosity."

"I will do so, I promise you," answered Sancho, "and will keepthis precept as carefully as Sunday."

While they were thus talking there appeared on the road two friarsof the order of St. Benedict, mounted on two dromedaries, for not lesstall were the two mules they rode on. They wore travellingspectacles and carried sunshades; and behind them came a coachattended by four or five persons on horseback and two muleteers onfoot. In the coach there was, as afterwards appeared, a Biscay lady onher way to Seville, where her husband was about to take passage forthe Indies with an appointment of high honour. The friars, thoughgoing the same road, were not in her company; but the moment DonQuixote perceived them he said to his squire, "Either I am mistaken,or this is going to be the most famous adventure that has ever beenseen, for those black bodies we see there must be, and doubtlessare, magicians who are carrying off some stolen princess in thatcoach, and with all my might I must undo this wrong."

"This will be worse than the windmills," said Sancho. "Look,senor; those are friars of St. Benedict, and the coach plainly belongsto some travellers: I tell you to mind well what you are about anddon't let the devil mislead you."

"I have told thee already, Sancho," replied Don Quixote, "that onthe subject of adventures thou knowest little. What I say is thetruth, as thou shalt see presently."

So saying, he advanced and posted himself in the middle of theroad along which the friars were coming, and as soon as he thoughtthey had come near enough to hear what he said, he cried aloud,"Devilish and unnatural beings, release instantly the highbornprincesses whom you are carrying off by force in this coach, elseprepare to meet a speedy death as the just punishment of your evildeeds."

The friars drew rein and stood wondering at the appearance of DonQuixote as well as at his words, to which they replied, "SenorCaballero, we are not devilish or unnatural, but two brothers of St.Benedict following our road, nor do we know whether or not there areany captive princesses coming in this coach."

"No soft words with me, for I know you, lying rabble," said DonQuixote, and without waiting for a reply he spurred Rocinante and withlevelled lance charged the first friar with such fury anddetermination, that, if the friar had not flung himself off themule, he would have brought him to the ground against his will, andsore wounded, if not killed outright. The second brother, seeing howhis comrade was treated, drove his heels into his castle of a mule andmade off across the country faster than the wind.

Sancho Panza, when he saw the friar on the ground, dismountingbriskly from his ass, rushed towards him and began to strip off hisgown. At that instant the friars muleteers came up and asked what hewas stripping him for. Sancho answered them that this fell to himlawfully as spoil of the battle which his lord Don Quixote had won.The muleteers, who had no idea of a joke and did not understand allthis about battles and spoils, seeing that Don Quixote was somedistance off talking to the travellers in the coach, fell upon Sancho,knocked him down, and leaving hardly a hair in his beard, belabouredhim with kicks and left him stretched breathless and senseless onthe ground; and without any more delay helped the friar to mount, who,trembling, terrified, and pale, as soon as he found himself in thesaddle, spurred after his companion, who was standing at a distancelooking on, watching the result of the onslaught; then, not caringto wait for the end of the affair just begun, they pursued theirjourney making more crosses than if they had the devil after them.

Don Quixote was, as has been said, speaking to the lady in thecoach: "Your beauty, lady mine," said he, "may now dispose of yourperson as may be most in accordance with your pleasure, for thepride of your ravishers lies prostrate on the ground through thisstrong arm of mine; and lest you should be pining to know the nameof your deliverer, know that I am called Don Quixote of La Mancha,knight-errant and adventurer, and captive to the peerless andbeautiful lady Dulcinea del Toboso: and in return for the serviceyou have received of me I ask no more than that you should return toEl Toboso, and on my behalf present yourself before that lady and tellher what I have done to set you free."

One of the squires in attendance upon the coach, a Biscayan, waslistening to all Don Quixote was saying, and, perceiving that he wouldnot allow the coach to go on, but was saying it must return at once toEl Toboso, he made at him, and seizing his lance addressed him inbad Castilian and worse Biscayan after his fashion, "Begone,caballero, and ill go with thee; by the God that made me, unlessthou quittest coach, slayest thee as art here a Biscayan."

Don Quixote understood him quite well, and answered him veryquietly, "If thou wert a knight, as thou art none, I should havealready chastised thy folly and rashness, miserable creature." Towhich the Biscayan returned, "I no gentleman! -I swear to God thouliest as I am Christian: if thou droppest lance and drawest sword,soon shalt thou see thou art carrying water to the cat: Biscayan onland, hidalgo at sea, hidalgo at the devil, and look, if thou sayestotherwise thou liest."

"'"You will see presently," said Agrajes,'" replied Don Quixote; andthrowing his lance on the ground he drew his sword, braced his buckleron his arm, and attacked the Biscayan, bent upon taking his life.

The Biscayan, when he saw him coming on, though he wished todismount from his mule, in which, being one of those sorry ones letout for hire, he had no confidence, had no choice but to draw hissword; it was lucky for him, however, that he was near the coach, fromwhich he was able to snatch a cushion that served him for a shield;and they went at one another as if they had been two mortal enemies.The others strove to make peace between them, but could not, for theBiscayan declared in his disjointed phrase that if they did not lethim finish his battle he would kill his mistress and everyone thatstrove to prevent him. The lady in the coach, amazed and terrifiedat what she saw, ordered the coachman to draw aside a little, andset herself to watch this severe struggle, in the course of whichthe Biscayan smote Don Quixote a mighty stroke on the shoulder overthe top of his buckler, which, given to one without armour, would havecleft him to the waist. Don Quixote, feeling the weight of thisprodigious blow, cried aloud, saying, "O lady of my soul, Dulcinea,flower of beauty, come to the aid of this your knight, who, infulfilling his obligations to your beauty, finds himself in thisextreme peril." To say this, to lift his sword, to shelter himselfwell behind his buckler, and to assail the Biscayan was the work of aninstant, determined as he was to venture all upon a single blow. TheBiscayan, seeing him come on in this way, was convinced of his courageby his spirited bearing, and resolved to follow his example, so hewaited for him keeping well under cover of his cushion, being unableto execute any sort of manoeuvre with his mule, which, dead tiredand never meant for this kind of game, could not stir a step.

On, then, as aforesaid, came Don Quixote against the waryBiscayan, with uplifted sword and a firm intention of splitting him inhalf, while on his side the Biscayan waited for him sword in hand, andunder the protection of his cushion; and all present stoodtrembling, waiting in suspense the result of blows such asthreatened to fall, and the lady in the coach and the rest of herfollowing were making a thousand vows and offerings to all theimages and shrines of Spain, that God might deliver her squire and allof them from this great peril in which they found themselves. But itspoils all, that at this point and crisis the author of the historyleaves this battle impending, giving as excuse that he could findnothing more written about these achievements of Don Quixote than whathas been already set forth. It is true the second author of thiswork was unwilling to believe that a history so curious could havebeen allowed to fall under the sentence of oblivion, or that thewits of La Mancha could have been so undiscerning as not to preservein their archives or registries some documents referring to thisfamous knight; and this being his persuasion, he did not despair offinding the conclusion of this pleasant history, which, heavenfavouring him, he did find in a way that shall be related in theSecond Part.

CHAPTER IX

IN WHICH IS CONCLUDED AND FINISHED THE TERRIFIC BATTLE BETWEEN THEGALLANT BISCAYAN AND THE VALIANT MANCHEGAN

In the First Part of this history we left the valiant Biscayan andthe renowned Don Quixote with drawn swords uplifted, ready todeliver two such furious slashing blows that if they had fallen fulland fair they would at least have split and cleft them asunder fromtop to toe and laid them open like a pomegranate; and at this socritical point the delightful history came to a stop and stood cutshort without any intimation from the author where what was missingwas to be found.

This distressed me greatly, because the pleasure derived from havingread such a small portion turned to vexation at the thought of thepoor chance that presented itself of finding the large part that, soit seemed to me, was missing of such an interesting tale. Itappeared to me to be a thing impossible and contrary to allprecedent that so good a knight should have been without some sageto undertake the task of writing his marvellous achievements; athing that was never wanting to any of those knights-errant who,they say, went after adventures; for every one of them had one ortwo sages as if made on purpose, who not only recorded their deeds butdescribed their most trifling thoughts and follies, however secretthey might be; and such a good knight could not have been sounfortunate as not to have what Platir and others like him had inabundance. And so I could not bring myself to believe that such agallant tale had been left maimed and mutilated, and I laid theblame on Time, the devourer and destroyer of all things, that hadeither concealed or consumed it.

On the other hand, it struck me that, inasmuch as among his booksthere had been found such modern ones as "The Enlightenment ofJealousy" and the "Nymphs and Shepherds of Henares," his story mustlikewise be modern, and that though it might not be written, itmight exist in the memory of the people of his village and of those inthe neighbourhood. This reflection kept me perplexed and longing toknow really and truly the whole life and wondrous deeds of ourfamous Spaniard, Don Quixote of La Mancha, light and mirror ofManchegan chivalry, and the first that in our age and in these so evildays devoted himself to the labour and exercise of the arms ofknight-errantry, righting wrongs, succouring widows, and protectingdamsels of that sort that used to ride about, whip in hand, on theirpalfreys, with all their virginity about them, from mountain tomountain and valley to valley- for, if it were not for some ruffian,or boor with a hood and hatchet, or monstrous giant, that forced them,there were in days of yore damsels that at the end of eighty years, inall which time they had never slept a day under a roof, went totheir graves as much maids as the mothers that bore them. I say, then,that in these and other respects our gallant Don Quixote is worthyof everlasting and notable praise, nor should it be withheld even fromme for the labour and pains spent in searching for the conclusion ofthis delightful history; though I know well that if Heaven, chance andgood fortune had not helped me, the world would have remained deprivedof an entertainment and pleasure that for a couple of hours or somay well occupy him who shall read it attentively. The discovery of itoccurred in this way.

One day, as I was in the Alcana of Toledo, a boy came up to sellsome pamphlets and old papers to a silk mercer, and, as I am fond ofreading even the very scraps of paper in the streets, led by thisnatural bent of mine I took up one of the pamphlets the boy had forsale, and saw that it was in characters which I recognised asArabic, and as I was unable to read them though I could recognisethem, I looked about to see if there were any Spanish-speaking Moriscoat hand to read them for me; nor was there any great difficulty infinding such an interpreter, for even had I sought one for an olderand better language I should have found him. In short, chance providedme with one, who when I told him what I wanted and put the book intohis hands, opened it in the middle and after reading a little in itbegan to laugh. I asked him what he was laughing at, and he repliedthat it was at something the book had written in the margin by wayof a note. I bade him tell it to me; and he still laughing said, "Inthe margin, as I told you, this is written: 'This Dulcinea delToboso so often mentioned in this history, had, they say, the besthand of any woman in all La Mancha for salting pigs.'"

When I heard Dulcinea del Toboso named, I was struck with surpriseand amazement, for it occurred to me at once that these pamphletscontained the history of Don Quixote. With this idea I pressed himto read the beginning, and doing so, turning the Arabic offhand intoCastilian, he told me it meant, "History of Don Quixote of LaMancha, written by Cide Hamete Benengeli, an Arab historian." Itrequired great caution to hide the joy I felt when the title of thebook reached my ears, and snatching it from the silk mercer, Ibought all the papers and pamphlets from the boy for half a real;and if he had had his wits about him and had known how eager I was forthem, he might have safely calculated on making more than six reals bythe bargain. I withdrew at once with the Morisco into the cloisterof the cathedral, and begged him to turn all these pamphlets thatrelated to Don Quixote into the Castilian tongue, without omittingor adding anything to them, offering him whatever payment hepleased. He was satisfied with two arrobas of raisins and twobushels of wheat, and promised to translate them faithfully and withall despatch; but to make the matter easier, and not to let such aprecious find out of my hands, I took him to my house, where in littlemore than a month and a half he translated the whole just as it is setdown here.

Title: Don Quixote
Author: Miqeul de Cervantes
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