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Miqeul de Cervantes >> Don Quixote (page 18)


"We will do the same," answered the goatherds, "and cast lots to seewho must stay to mind the goats of all."

"Thou sayest well, Pedro," said one, "though there will be no needof taking that trouble, for I will stay behind for all; and don'tsuppose it is virtue or want of curiosity in me; it is that thesplinter that ran into my foot the other day will not let me walk."

"For all that, we thank thee," answered Pedro.

Don Quixote asked Pedro to tell him who the dead man was and who theshepherdess, to which Pedro replied that all he knew was that the deadman was a wealthy gentleman belonging to a village in those mountains,who had been a student at Salamanca for many years, at the end ofwhich he returned to his village with the reputation of being verylearned and deeply read. "Above all, they said, he was learned inthe science of the stars and of what went on yonder in the heavens andthe sun and the moon, for he told us of the cris of the sun and moonto exact time."

"Eclipse it is called, friend, not cris, the darkening of thosetwo luminaries," said Don Quixote; but Pedro, not troubling himselfwith trifles, went on with his story, saying, "Also he foretold whenthe year was going to be one of abundance or estility."

"Sterility, you mean," said Don Quixote.

"Sterility or estility," answered Pedro, "it is all the same inthe end. And I can tell you that by this his father and friends whobelieved him grew very rich because they did as he advised them,bidding them 'sow barley this year, not wheat; this year you may sowpulse and not barley; the next there will be a full oil crop, andthe three following not a drop will be got.'"

"That science is called astrology," said Don Quixote.

"I do not know what it is called," replied Pedro, "but I know thathe knew all this and more besides. But, to make an end, not manymonths had passed after he returned from Salamanca, when one day heappeared dressed as a shepherd with his crook and sheepskin, havingput off the long gown he wore as a scholar; and at the same time hisgreat friend, Ambrosio by name, who had been his companion in hisstudies, took to the shepherd's dress with him. I forgot to say thatChrysostom, who is dead, was a great man for writing verses, so muchso that he made carols for Christmas Eve, and plays for CorpusChristi, which the young men of our village acted, and all said theywere excellent. When the villagers saw the two scholars sounexpectedly appearing in shepherd's dress, they were lost inwonder, and could not guess what had led them to make so extraordinarya change. About this time the father of our Chrysostom died, and hewas left heir to a large amount of property in chattels as well asin land, no small number of cattle and sheep, and a large sum ofmoney, of all of which the young man was left dissolute owner, andindeed he was deserving of it all, for he was a very good comrade, andkind-hearted, and a friend of worthy folk, and had a countenancelike a benediction. Presently it came to be known that he hadchanged his dress with no other object than to wander about thesewastes after that shepherdess Marcela our lad mentioned a while ago,with whom the deceased Chrysostom had fallen in love. And I musttell you now, for it is well you should know it, who this girl is;perhaps, and even without any perhaps, you will not have heardanything like it all the days of your life, though you should livemore years than sarna."

"Say Sarra," said Don Quixote, unable to endure the goatherd'sconfusion of words.

"The sarna lives long enough," answered Pedro; "and if, senor, youmust go finding fault with words at every step, we shall not make anend of it this twelvemonth."

"Pardon me, friend," said Don Quixote; "but, as there is such adifference between sarna and Sarra, I told you of it; however, youhave answered very rightly, for sarna lives longer than Sarra: socontinue your story, and I will not object any more to anything."

"I say then, my dear sir," said the goatherd, "that in our villagethere was a farmer even richer than the father of Chrysostom, whowas named Guillermo, and upon whom God bestowed, over and abovegreat wealth, a daughter at whose birth her mother died, the mostrespected woman there was in this neighbourhood; I fancy I can see hernow with that countenance which had the sun on one side and the moonon the other; and moreover active, and kind to the poor, for which Itrust that at the present moment her soul is in bliss with God inthe other world. Her husband Guillermo died of grief at the death ofso good a wife, leaving his daughter Marcela, a child and rich, to thecare of an uncle of hers, a priest and prebendary in our village.The girl grew up with such beauty that it reminded us of her mother's,which was very great, and yet it was thought that the daughter's wouldexceed it; and so when she reached the age of fourteen to fifteenyears nobody beheld her but blessed God that had made her sobeautiful, and the greater number were in love with her pastredemption. Her uncle kept her in great seclusion and retirement,but for all that the fame of her great beauty spread so that, aswell for it as for her great wealth, her uncle was asked, solicited,and importuned, to give her in marriage not only by those of ourtown but of those many leagues round, and by the persons of highestquality in them. But he, being a good Christian man, though he desiredto give her in marriage at once, seeing her to be old enough, wasunwilling to do so without her consent, not that he had any eye to thegain and profit which the custody of the girl's property brought himwhile he put off her marriage; and, faith, this was said in praiseof the good priest in more than one set in the town. For I wouldhave you know, Sir Errant, that in these little villages everything istalked about and everything is carped at, and rest assured, as I am,that the priest must be over and above good who forces hisparishioners to speak well of him, especially in villages."

"That is the truth," said Don Quixote; "but go on, for the storyis very good, and you, good Pedro, tell it with very good grace."

"May that of the Lord not be wanting to me," said Pedro; "that isthe one to have. To proceed; you must know that though the uncle putbefore his niece and described to her the qualities of each one inparticular of the many who had asked her in marriage, begging her tomarry and make a choice according to her own taste, she never gave anyother answer than that she had no desire to marry just yet, and thatbeing so young she did not think herself fit to bear the burden ofmatrimony. At these, to all appearance, reasonable excuses that shemade, her uncle ceased to urge her, and waited till she was somewhatmore advanced in age and could mate herself to her own liking. For,said he- and he said quite right- parents are not to settle childrenin life against their will. But when one least looked for it, lo andbehold! one day the demure Marcela makes her appearance turnedshepherdess; and, in spite of her uncle and all those of the town thatstrove to dissuade her, took to going a-field with the othershepherd-lasses of the village, and tending her own flock. And so,since she appeared in public, and her beauty came to be seen openly, Icould not well tell you how many rich youths, gentlemen andpeasants, have adopted the costume of Chrysostom, and go about thesefields making love to her. One of these, as has been already said, wasour deceased friend, of whom they say that he did not love but adoreher. But you must not suppose, because Marcela chose a life of suchliberty and independence, and of so little or rather no retirement,that she has given any occasion, or even the semblance of one, fordisparagement of her purity and modesty; on the contrary, such andso great is the vigilance with which she watches over her honour, thatof all those that court and woo her not one has boasted, or can withtruth boast, that she has given him any hope however small ofobtaining his desire. For although she does not avoid or shun thesociety and conversation of the shepherds, and treats them courteouslyand kindly, should any one of them come to declare his intention toher, though it be one as proper and holy as that of matrimony, sheflings him from her like a catapult. And with this kind of dispositionshe does more harm in this country than if the plague had got into it,for her affability and her beauty draw on the hearts of those thatassociate with her to love her and to court her, but her scorn and herfrankness bring them to the brink of despair; and so they know notwhat to say save to proclaim her aloud cruel and hard-hearted, andother names of the same sort which well describe the nature of hercharacter; and if you should remain here any time, senor, you wouldhear these hills and valleys resounding with the laments of therejected ones who pursue her. Not far from this there is a spotwhere there are a couple of dozen of tall beeches, and there is notone of them but has carved and written on its smooth bark the nameof Marcela, and above some a crown carved on the same tree as thoughher lover would say more plainly that Marcela wore and deserved thatof all human beauty. Here one shepherd is sighing, there another islamenting; there love songs are heard, here despairing elegies. Onewill pass all the hours of the night seated at the foot of some oak orrock, and there, without having closed his weeping eyes, the sun findshim in the morning bemused and bereft of sense; and another withoutrelief or respite to his sighs, stretched on the burning sand in thefull heat of the sultry summer noontide, makes his appeal to thecompassionate heavens, and over one and the other, over these and all,the beautiful Marcela triumphs free and careless. And all of us thatknow her are waiting to see what her pride will come to, and who is tobe the happy man that will succeed in taming a nature so formidableand gaining possession of a beauty so supreme. All that I have toldyou being such well-established truth, I am persuaded that what theysay of the cause of Chrysostom's death, as our lad told us, is thesame. And so I advise you, senor, fail not to be present to-morrowat his burial, which will be well worth seeing, for Chrysostom hadmany friends, and it is not half a league from this place to wherehe directed he should be buried."

"I will make a point of it," said Don Quixote, "and I thank youfor the pleasure you have given me by relating so interesting a tale."

"Oh," said the goatherd, "I do not know even the half of what hashappened to the lovers of Marcela, but perhaps to-morrow we may fallin with some shepherd on the road who can tell us; and now it willbe well for you to go and sleep under cover, for the night air mayhurt your wound, though with the remedy I have applied to you there isno fear of an untoward result."

Sancho Panza, who was wishing the goatherd's loquacity at the devil,on his part begged his master to go into Pedro's hut to sleep. Hedid so, and passed all the rest of the night in thinking of his ladyDulcinea, in imitation of the lovers of Marcela. Sancho Panza settledhimself between Rocinante and his ass, and slept, not like a loverwho had been discarded, but like a man who had been soundly kicked.

CHAPTER XIII

IN WHICH IS ENDED THE STORY OF THE SHEPHERDESS MARCELA, WITH OTHERINCIDENTS

Bit hardly had day begun to show itself through the balconies of theeast, when five of the six goatherds came to rouse Don Quixote andtell him that if he was still of a mind to go and see the famousburial of Chrysostom they would bear him company. Don Quixote, whodesired nothing better, rose and ordered Sancho to saddle and pannelat once, which he did with all despatch, and with the same they allset out forthwith. They had not gone a quarter of a league when at themeeting of two paths they saw coming towards them some six shepherdsdressed in black sheepskins and with their heads crowned with garlandsof cypress and bitter oleander. Each of them carried a stout hollystaff in his hand, and along with them there came two men of qualityon horseback in handsome travelling dress, with three servants on footaccompanying them. Courteous salutations were exchanged on meeting,and inquiring one of the other which way each party was going, theylearned that all were bound for the scene of the burial, so theywent on all together.

One of those on horseback addressing his companion said to him,"It seems to me, Senor Vivaldo, that we may reckon as well spent thedelay we shall incur in seeing this remarkable funeral, for remarkableit cannot but be judging by the strange things these shepherds havetold us, of both the dead shepherd and homicide shepherdess."

"So I think too," replied Vivaldo, "and I would delay not to say aday, but four, for the sake of seeing it."

Don Quixote asked them what it was they had heard of Marcela andChrysostom. The traveller answered that the same morning they hadmet these shepherds, and seeing them dressed in this mournfulfashion they had asked them the reason of their appearing in such aguise; which one of them gave, describing the strange behaviour andbeauty of a shepherdess called Marcela, and the loves of many whocourted her, together with the death of that Chrysostom to whoseburial they were going. In short, he repeated all that Pedro hadrelated to Don Quixote.

This conversation dropped, and another was commenced by him whowas called Vivaldo asking Don Quixote what was the reason that led himto go armed in that fashion in a country so peaceful. To which DonQuixote replied, "The pursuit of my calling does not allow or permitme to go in any other fashion; easy life, enjoyment, and repose wereinvented for soft courtiers, but toil, unrest, and arms wereinvented and made for those alone whom the world calls knights-errant,of whom I, though unworthy, am the least of all."

The instant they heard this all set him down as mad, and thebetter to settle the point and discover what kind of madness hiswas, Vivaldo proceeded to ask him what knights-errant meant.

"Have not your worships," replied Don Quixote, "read the annalsand histories of England, in which are recorded the famous deeds ofKing Arthur, whom we in our popular Castilian invariably call KingArtus, with regard to whom it is an ancient tradition, and commonlyreceived all over that kingdom of Great Britain, that this king didnot die, but was changed by magic art into a raven, and that inprocess of time he is to return to reign and recover his kingdom andsceptre; for which reason it cannot be proved that from that time tothis any Englishman ever killed a raven? Well, then, in the time ofthis good king that famous order of chivalry of the Knights of theRound Table was instituted, and the amour of Don Lancelot of theLake with the Queen Guinevere occurred, precisely as is there related,the go-between and confidante therein being the highly honourable dameQuintanona, whence came that ballad so well known and widely spread inour Spain-

Title: Don Quixote
Author: Miqeul de Cervantes
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