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Miqeul de Cervantes >> Don Quixote (page 25)


"What?" said Don Quixote: "give aid and assistance to the weak andthose who need it; and thou must know, Sancho, that this which comesopposite to us is conducted and led by the mighty emperor Alifanfaron,lord of the great isle of Trapobana; this other that marches behind meis that of his enemy the king of the Garamantas, Pentapolin of theBare Arm, for he always goes into battle with his right arm bare."

"But why are these two lords such enemies?"

"They are at enmity," replied Don Quixote, "because this Alifanfaronis a furious pagan and is in love with the daughter of Pentapolin, whois a very beautiful and moreover gracious lady, and a Christian, andher father is unwilling to bestow her upon the pagan king unless hefirst abandons the religion of his false prophet Mahomet, and adoptshis own."

"By my beard," said Sancho, "but Pentapolin does quite right, andI will help him as much as I can."

"In that thou wilt do what is thy duty, Sancho," said Don Quixote;"for to engage in battles of this sort it is not requisite to be adubbed knight."

"That I can well understand," answered Sancho; "but where shall weput this ass where we may be sure to find him after the fray isover? for I believe it has not been the custom so far to go intobattle on a beast of this kind."

"That is true," said Don Quixote, "and what you had best do with himis to leave him to take his chance whether he be lost or not, forthe horses we shall have when we come out victors will be so many thateven Rocinante will run a risk of being changed for another. Butattend to me and observe, for I wish to give thee some account ofthe chief knights who accompany these two armies; and that thou mayestthe better see and mark, let us withdraw to that hillock which risesyonder, whence both armies may be seen."

They did so, and placed themselves on a rising ground from which thetwo droves that Don Quixote made armies of might have been plainlyseen if the clouds of dust they raised had not obscured them andblinded the sight; nevertheless, seeing in his imagination what he didnot see and what did not exist, he began thus in a loud voice:

"That knight whom thou seest yonder in yellow armour, who bears uponhis shield a lion crowned crouching at the feet of a damsel, is thevaliant Laurcalco, lord of the Silver Bridge; that one in armourwith flowers of gold, who bears on his shield three crowns argent onan azure field, is the dreaded Micocolembo, grand duke of Quirocia;that other of gigantic frame, on his right hand, is the ever dauntlessBrandabarbaran de Boliche, lord of the three Arabias, who for armourwears that serpent skin, and has for shield a gate which, according totradition, is one of those of the temple that Samson brought to theground when by his death he revenged himself upon his enemies. Butturn thine eyes to the other side, and thou shalt see in front andin the van of this other army the ever victorious and never vanquishedTimonel of Carcajona, prince of New Biscay, who comes in armour witharms quartered azure, vert, white, and yellow, and bears on his shielda cat or on a field tawny with a motto which says Miau, which is thebeginning of the name of his lady, who according to report is thepeerless Miaulina, daughter of the duke Alfeniquen of the Algarve; theother, who burdens and presses the loins of that powerful chargerand bears arms white as snow and a shield blank and without anydevice, is a novice knight, a Frenchman by birth, Pierres Papin byname, lord of the baronies of Utrique; that other, who withiron-shod heels strikes the flanks of that nimble parti-colouredzebra, and for arms bears azure vair, is the mighty duke of Nerbia,Espartafilardo del Bosque, who bears for device on his shield anasparagus plant with a motto in Castilian that says, Rastrea misuerte." And so he went on naming a number of knights of onesquadron or the other out of his imagination, and to all he assignedoff-hand their arms, colours, devices, and mottoes, carried away bythe illusions of his unheard-of craze; and without a pause, hecontinued, "People of divers nations compose this squadron in front;here are those that drink of the sweet waters of the famous Xanthus,those that scour the woody Massilian plains, those that sift thepure fine gold of Arabia Felix, those that enjoy the famed coolbanks of the crystal Thermodon, those that in many and various waysdivert the streams of the golden Pactolus, the Numidians, faithless intheir promises, the Persians renowned in archery, the Parthians andthe Medes that fight as they fly, the Arabs that ever shift theirdwellings, the Scythians as cruel as they are fair, the Ethiopianswith pierced lips, and an infinity of other nations whose features Irecognise and descry, though I cannot recall their names. In thisother squadron there come those that drink of the crystal streams ofthe olive-bearing Betis, those that make smooth their countenanceswith the water of the ever rich and golden Tagus, those that rejoicein the fertilising flow of the divine Genil, those that roam theTartesian plains abounding in pasture, those that take theirpleasure in the Elysian meadows of Jerez, the rich Mancheganscrowned with ruddy ears of corn, the wearers of iron, old relics ofthe Gothic race, those that bathe in the Pisuerga renowned for itsgentle current, those that feed their herds along the spreadingpastures of the winding Guadiana famed for its hidden course, thosethat tremble with the cold of the pineclad Pyrenees or the dazzlingsnows of the lofty Apennine; in a word, as many as all Europe includesand contains."

Good God! what a number of countries and nations he named! giving toeach its proper attributes with marvellous readiness; brimful andsaturated with what he had read in his lying books! Sancho Panzahung upon his words without speaking, and from time to time turnedto try if he could see the knights and giants his master wasdescribing, and as he could not make out one of them he said to him:

"Senor, devil take it if there's a sign of any man you talk of,knight or giant, in the whole thing; maybe it's all enchantment,like the phantoms last night."

"How canst thou say that!" answered Don Quixote; "dost thou not hearthe neighing of the steeds, the braying of the trumpets, the roll ofthe drums?"

"I hear nothing but a great bleating of ewes and sheep," saidSancho; which was true, for by this time the two flocks had comeclose.

"The fear thou art in, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "prevents theefrom seeing or hearing correctly, for one of the effects of fear is toderange the senses and make things appear different from what theyare; if thou art in such fear, withdraw to one side and leave me tomyself, for alone I suffice to bring victory to that side to which Ishall give my aid;" and so saying he gave Rocinante the spur, andputting the lance in rest, shot down the slope like a thunderbolt.Sancho shouted after him, crying, "Come back, Senor Don Quixote; I vowto God they are sheep and ewes you are charging! Come back! Unluckythe father that begot me! what madness is this! Look, there is nogiant, nor knight, nor cats, nor arms, nor shields quartered or whole,nor vair azure or bedevilled. What are you about? Sinner that I ambefore God!" But not for all these entreaties did Don Quixote turnback; on the contrary he went on shouting out, "Ho, knights, ye whofollow and fight under the banners of the valiant emperor Pentapolinof the Bare Arm, follow me all; ye shall see how easily I shall givehim his revenge over his enemy Alifanfaron of the Trapobana."

So saying, he dashed into the midst of the squadron of ewes, andbegan spearing them with as much spirit and intrepidity as if hewere transfixing mortal enemies in earnest. The shepherds anddrovers accompanying the flock shouted to him to desist; seeing it wasno use, they ungirt their slings and began to salute his ears withstones as big as one's fist. Don Quixote gave no heed to the stones,but, letting drive right and left kept saying:

"Where art thou, proud Alifanfaron? Come before me; I am a singleknight who would fain prove thy prowess hand to hand, and make theeyield thy life a penalty for the wrong thou dost to the valiantPentapolin Garamanta." Here came a sugar-plum from the brook thatstruck him on the side and buried a couple of ribs in his body.Feeling himself so smitten, he imagined himself slain or badly woundedfor certain, and recollecting his liquor he drew out his flask, andputting it to his mouth began to pour the contents into his stomach;but ere he had succeeded in swallowing what seemed to him enough,there came another almond which struck him on the hand and on theflask so fairly that it smashed it to pieces, knocking three or fourteeth and grinders out of his mouth in its course, and sorely crushingtwo fingers of his hand. Such was the force of the first blow and ofthe second, that the poor knight in spite of himself came downbackwards off his horse. The shepherds came up, and felt sure they hadkilled him; so in all haste they collected their flock together,took up the dead beasts, of which there were more than seven, and madeoff without waiting to ascertain anything further.

All this time Sancho stood on the hill watching the crazy featshis master was performing, and tearing his beard and cursing thehour and the occasion when fortune had made him acquainted with him.Seeing him, then, brought to the ground, and that the shepherds hadtaken themselves off, he ran to him and found him in very bad case,though not unconscious; and said he:

"Did I not tell you to come back, Senor Don Quixote; and that whatyou were going to attack were not armies but droves of sheep?"

"That's how that thief of a sage, my enemy, can alter and falsifythings," answered Don Quixote; "thou must know, Sancho, that it is avery easy matter for those of his sort to make us believe what theychoose; and this malignant being who persecutes me, envious of theglory he knew I was to win in this battle, has turned the squadrons ofthe enemy into droves of sheep. At any rate, do this much, I beg ofthee, Sancho, to undeceive thyself, and see that what I say is true;mount thy ass and follow them quietly, and thou shalt see that whenthey have gone some little distance from this they will return totheir original shape and, ceasing to be sheep, become men in allrespects as I described them to thee at first. But go not just yet,for I want thy help and assistance; come hither, and see how many ofmy teeth and grinders are missing, for I feel as if there was notone left in my mouth."

Sancho came so close that he almost put his eyes into his mouth; nowjust at that moment the balsam had acted on the stomach of DonQuixote, so, at the very instant when Sancho came to examine hismouth, he discharged all its contents with more force than a musket,and full into the beard of the compassionate squire.

"Holy Mary!" cried Sancho, "what is this that has happened me?Clearly this sinner is mortally wounded, as he vomits blood from themouth;" but considering the matter a little more closely heperceived by the colour, taste, and smell, that it was not blood butthe balsam from the flask which he had seen him drink; and he wastaken with such a loathing that his stomach turned, and he vomitedup his inside over his very master, and both were left in a preciousstate. Sancho ran to his ass to get something wherewith to cleanhimself, and relieve his master, out of his alforjas; but notfinding them, he well-nigh took leave of his senses, and cursedhimself anew, and in his heart resolved to quit his master andreturn home, even though he forfeited the wages of his service and allhopes of the promised island.

Don Quixote now rose, and putting his left hand to his mouth to keephis teeth from falling out altogether, with the other he laid holdof the bridle of Rocinante, who had never stirred from his master'sside- so loyal and well-behaved was he- and betook himself to wherethe squire stood leaning over his ass with his hand to his cheek, likeone in deep dejection. Seeing him in this mood, looking so sad, DonQuixote said to him:

"Bear in mind, Sancho, that one man is no more than another,unless he does more than another; all these tempests that fall upon usare signs that fair weather is coming shortly, and that things will gowell with us, for it is impossible for good or evil to last forever; and hence it follows that the evil having lasted long, thegood must be now nigh at hand; so thou must not distress thyself atthe misfortunes which happen to me, since thou hast no share in them."

"How have I not?" replied Sancho; "was he whom they blanketedyesterday perchance any other than my father's son? and the alforjasthat are missing to-day with all my treasures, did they belong toany other but myself?"

"What! are the alforjas missing, Sancho?" said Don Quixote.

"Yes, they are missing," answered Sancho.

"In that case we have nothing to eat to-day," replied Don Quixote.

"It would be so," answered Sancho, "if there were none of theherbs your worship says you know in these meadows, those with whichknights-errant as unlucky as your worship are wont to supply such-likeshortcomings."

"For all that," answered Don Quixote, "I would rather have justnow a quarter of bread, or a loaf and a couple of pilchards' heads,than all the herbs described by Dioscorides, even with Doctor Laguna'snotes. Nevertheless, Sancho the Good, mount thy beast and come alongwith me, for God, who provides for all things, will not fail us(more especially when we are so active in his service as we are),since he fails not the midges of the air, nor the grubs of theearth, nor the tadpoles of the water, and is so merciful that hemaketh his sun to rise on the good and on the evil, and sendeth rainon the unjust and on the just."

"Your worship would make a better preacher than knight-errant," saidSancho.

"Knights-errant knew and ought to know everything, Sancho," said DonQuixote; "for there were knights-errant in former times as wellqualified to deliver a sermon or discourse in the middle of anencampment, as if they had graduated in the University of Paris;whereby we may see that the lance has never blunted the pen, nor thepen the lance."

Title: Don Quixote
Author: Miqeul de Cervantes
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