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Miqeul de Cervantes >> Don Quixote (page 30)


As they went along, then, in this way Sancho said to his master,"Senor, would your worship give me leave to speak a little to you? Forsince you laid that hard injunction of silence on me several thingshave gone to rot in my stomach, and I have now just one on the tipof my tongue that I don't want to be spoiled."

"Say, on, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "and be brief in thy discourse,for there is no pleasure in one that is long."

"Well then, senor," returned Sancho, "I say that for some dayspast I have been considering how little is got or gained by going insearch of these adventures that your worship seeks in these wildsand cross-roads, where, even if the most perilous are victoriouslyachieved, there is no one to see or know of them, and so they mustbe left untold for ever, to the loss of your worship's object andthe credit they deserve; therefore it seems to me it would be better(saving your worship's better judgment) if we were to go and servesome emperor or other great prince who may have some war on hand, inwhose service your worship may prove the worth of your person, yourgreat might, and greater understanding, on perceiving which the lordin whose service we may be will perforce have to reward us, eachaccording to his merits; and there you will not be at a loss forsome one to set down your achievements in writing so as to preservetheir memory for ever. Of my own I say nothing, as they will not gobeyond squirely limits, though I make bold to say that, if it be thepractice in chivalry to write the achievements of squires, I thinkmine must not be left out."

"Thou speakest not amiss, Sancho," answered Don Quixote, "but beforethat point is reached it is requisite to roam the world, as it were onprobation, seeking adventures, in order that, by achieving some,name and fame may be acquired, such that when he betakes himself tothe court of some great monarch the knight may be already known by hisdeeds, and that the boys, the instant they see him enter the gate ofthe city, may all follow him and surround him, crying, 'This is theKnight of the Sun'-or the Serpent, or any other title under which hemay have achieved great deeds. 'This,' they will say, 'is he whovanquished in single combat the gigantic Brocabruno of mightystrength; he who delivered the great Mameluke of Persia out of thelong enchantment under which he had been for almost nine hundredyears.' So from one to another they will go proclaiming hisachievements; and presently at the tumult of the boys and the othersthe king of that kingdom will appear at the windows of his royalpalace, and as soon as he beholds the knight, recognising him by hisarms and the device on his shield, he will as a matter of coursesay, 'What ho! Forth all ye, the knights of my court, to receive theflower of chivalry who cometh hither!' At which command all will issueforth, and he himself, advancing half-way down the stairs, willembrace him closely, and salute him, kissing him on the cheek, andwill then lead him to the queen's chamber, where the knight willfind her with the princess her daughter, who will be one of the mostbeautiful and accomplished damsels that could with the utmost pains bediscovered anywhere in the known world. Straightway it will come topass that she will fix her eyes upon the knight and he his upon her,and each will seem to the other something more divine than human, and,without knowing how or why they will be taken and entangled in theinextricable toils of love, and sorely distressed in their heartsnot to see any way of making their pains and sufferings known byspeech. Thence they will lead him, no doubt, to some richly adornedchamber of the palace, where, having removed his armour, they willbring him a rich mantle of scarlet wherewith to robe himself, and ifhe looked noble in his armour he will look still more so in a doublet.When night comes he will sup with the king, queen, and princess; andall the time he will never take his eyes off her, stealing stealthyglances, unnoticed by those present, and she will do the same, andwith equal cautiousness, being, as I have said, a damsel of greatdiscretion. The tables being removed, suddenly through the door of thehall there will enter a hideous and diminutive dwarf followed by afair dame, between two giants, who comes with a certain adventure, thework of an ancient sage; and he who shall achieve it shall be deemedthe best knight in the world.

"The king will then command all those present to essay it, andnone will bring it to an end and conclusion save the strangerknight, to the great enhancement of his fame, whereat the princesswill be overjoyed and will esteem herself happy and fortunate inhaving fixed and placed her thoughts so high. And the best of it isthat this king, or prince, or whatever he is, is engaged in a verybitter war with another as powerful as himself, and the strangerknight, after having been some days at his court, requests leavefrom him to go and serve him in the said war. The king will grant itvery readily, and the knight will courteously kiss his hands for thefavour done to him; and that night he will take leave of his ladythe princess at the grating of the chamber where she sleeps, whichlooks upon a garden, and at which he has already many timesconversed with her, the go-between and confidante in the matterbeing a damsel much trusted by the princess. He will sigh, she willswoon, the damsel will fetch water, much distressed because morningapproaches, and for the honour of her lady he would not that they werediscovered; at last the princess will come to herself and will presenther white hands through the grating to the knight, who will kissthem a thousand and a thousand times, bathing them with his tears.It will be arranged between them how they are to inform each otherof their good or evil fortunes, and the princess will entreat him tomake his absence as short as possible, which he will promise to dowith many oaths; once more he kisses her hands, and takes his leave insuch grief that he is well-nigh ready to die. He betakes him thence tohis chamber, flings himself on his bed, cannot sleep for sorrow atparting, rises early in the morning, goes to take leave of the king,queen, and princess, and, as he takes his leave of the pair, it istold him that the princess is indisposed and cannot receive a visit;the knight thinks it is from grief at his departure, his heart ispierced, and he is hardly able to keep from showing his pain. Theconfidante is present, observes all, goes to tell her mistress, wholistens with tears and says that one of her greatest distresses is notknowing who this knight is, and whether he is of kingly lineage ornot; the damsel assures her that so much courtesy, gentleness, andgallantry of bearing as her knight possesses could not exist in anysave one who was royal and illustrious; her anxiety is thusrelieved, and she strives to be of good cheer lest she should excitesuspicion in her parents, and at the end of two days she appears inpublic. Meanwhile the knight has taken his departure; he fights in thewar, conquers the king's enemy, wins many cities, triumphs in manybattles, returns to the court, sees his lady where he was wont tosee her, and it is agreed that he shall demand her in marriage ofher parents as the reward of his services; the king is unwilling togive her, as he knows not who he is, but nevertheless, whether carriedoff or in whatever other way it may be, the princess comes to be hisbride, and her father comes to regard it as very good fortune; forit so happens that this knight is proved to be the son of a valiantking of some kingdom, I know not what, for I fancy it is not likely tobe on the map. The father dies, the princess inherits, and in twowords the knight becomes king. And here comes in at once thebestowal of rewards upon his squire and all who have aided him inrising to so exalted a rank. He marries his squire to a damsel ofthe princess's, who will be, no doubt, the one who was confidante intheir amour, and is daughter of a very great duke."

"That's what I want, and no mistake about it!" said Sancho."That's what I'm waiting for; for all this, word for word, is in storefor your worship under the title of the Knight of the RuefulCountenance."

"Thou needst not doubt it, Sancho," replied Don Quixote, "for in thesame manner, and by the same steps as I have described here,knights-errant rise and have risen to be kings and emperors; all wewant now is to find out what king, Christian or pagan, is at war andhas a beautiful daughter; but there will be time enough to think ofthat, for, as I have told thee, fame must be won in other quartersbefore repairing to the court. There is another thing, too, that iswanting; for supposing we find a king who is at war and has abeautiful daughter, and that I have won incredible fame throughout theuniverse, I know not how it can be made out that I am of royallineage, or even second cousin to an emperor; for the king will not bewilling to give me his daughter in marriage unless he is firstthoroughly satisfied on this point, however much my famous deeds maydeserve it; so that by this deficiency I fear I shall lose what my armhas fairly earned. True it is I am a gentleman of known house, ofestate and property, and entitled to the five hundred sueldos mulct;and it may be that the sage who shall write my history will so clearup my ancestry and pedigree that I may find myself fifth or sixth indescent from a king; for I would have thee know, Sancho, that thereare two kinds of lineages in the world; some there be tracing andderiving their descent from kings and princes, whom time has reducedlittle by little until they end in a point like a pyramid upside down;and others who spring from the common herd and go on rising step bystep until they come to be great lords; so that the difference is thatthe one were what they no longer are, and the others are what theyformerly were not. And I may be of such that after investigation myorigin may prove great and famous, with which the king, myfather-in-law that is to be, ought to be satisfied; and should henot be, the princess will so love me that even though she well knew meto be the son of a water-carrier, she will take me for her lord andhusband in spite of her father; if not, then it comes to seizing herand carrying her off where I please; for time or death will put an endto the wrath of her parents."

"It comes to this, too," said Sancho, "what some naughty people say,'Never ask as a favour what thou canst take by force;' though it wouldfit better to say, 'A clear escape is better than good men's prayers.'I say so because if my lord the king, your worship's father-in-law,will not condescend to give you my lady the princess, there is nothingfor it but, as your worship says, to seize her and transport her.But the mischief is that until peace is made and you come into thepeaceful enjoyment of your kingdom, the poor squire is famishing asfar as rewards go, unless it be that the confidante damsel that isto be his wife comes with the princess, and that with her he tidesover his bad luck until Heaven otherwise orders things; for hismaster, I suppose, may as well give her to him at once for a lawfulwife."

"Nobody can object to that," said Don Quixote.

"Then since that may be," said Sancho, "there is nothing for itbut to commend ourselves to God, and let fortune take what course itwill."

"God guide it according to my wishes and thy wants," said DonQuixote, "and mean be he who thinks himself mean."

"In God's name let him be so," said Sancho: "I am an oldChristian, and to fit me for a count that's enough."

"And more than enough for thee," said Don Quixote; "and even wertthou not, it would make no difference, because I being the king caneasily give thee nobility without purchase or service rendered bythee, for when I make thee a count, then thou art at once a gentleman;and they may say what they will, but by my faith they will have tocall thee 'your lordship,' whether they like it or not."

"Not a doubt of it; and I'll know how to support the tittle," saidSancho.

"Title thou shouldst say, not tittle," said his master.

"So be it," answered Sancho. "I say I will know how to behave, foronce in my life I was beadle of a brotherhood, and the beadle's gownsat so well on me that all said I looked as if I was to be stewardof the same brotherhood. What will it be, then, when I put a duke'srobe on my back, or dress myself in gold and pearls like a count? Ibelieve they'll come a hundred leagues to see me."

"Thou wilt look well," said Don Quixote, "but thou must shave thybeard often, for thou hast it so thick and rough and unkempt, thatif thou dost not shave it every second day at least, they will seewhat thou art at the distance of a musket shot."

"What more will it be," said Sancho, "than having a barber, andkeeping him at wages in the house? and even if it be necessary, I willmake him go behind me like a nobleman's equerry."

"Why, how dost thou know that noblemen have equerries behindthem?" asked Don Quixote.

"I will tell you," answered Sancho. "Years ago I was for a monthat the capital and there I saw taking the air a very small gentlemanwho they said was a very great man, and a man following him onhorseback in every turn he took, just as if he was his tail. I askedwhy this man did not join the other man, instead of always goingbehind him; they answered me that he was his equerry, and that itwas the custom with nobles to have such persons behind them, andever since then I know it, for I have never forgotten it."

"Thou art right," said Don Quixote, "and in the same way thou mayestcarry thy barber with thee, for customs did not come into use alltogether, nor were they all invented at once, and thou mayest be thefirst count to have a barber to follow him; and, indeed, shaving one'sbeard is a greater trust than saddling one's horse."

"Let the barber business be my look-out," said Sancho; "and yourworship's be it to strive to become a king, and make me a count."

Title: Don Quixote
Author: Miqeul de Cervantes
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