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Miqeul de Cervantes >> Don Quixote (page 35)


"The duke gave him permission, and ordered me to accompany him; wearrived at my city, and my father gave him the reception due to hisrank; I saw Luscinda without delay, and, though it had not been deador deadened, my love gathered fresh life. To my sorrow I told thestory of it to Don Fernando, for I thought that in virtue of the greatfriendship he bore me I was bound to conceal nothing from him. Iextolled her beauty, her gaiety, her wit, so warmly, that my praisesexcited in him a desire to see a damsel adorned by such attractions.To my misfortune I yielded to it, showing her to him one night bythe light of a taper at a window where we used to talk to one another.As she appeared to him in her dressing-gown, she drove all thebeauties he had seen until then out of his recollection; speech failedhim, his head turned, he was spell-bound, and in the end love-smitten,as you will see in the course of the story of my misfortune; and toinflame still further his passion, which he hid from me and revealedto Heaven alone, it so happened that one day he found a note of hersentreating me to demand her of her father in marriage, so delicate, somodest, and so tender, that on reading it he told me that inLuscinda alone were combined all the charms of beauty andunderstanding that were distributed among all the other women in theworld. It is true, and I own it now, that though I knew what goodcause Don Fernando had to praise Luscinda, it gave me uneasiness tohear these praises from his mouth, and I began to fear, and withreason to feel distrust of him, for there was no moment when he wasnot ready to talk of Luscinda, and he would start the subjecthimself even though he dragged it in unseasonably, a circumstance thataroused in me a certain amount of jealousy; not that I feared anychange in the constancy or faith of Luscinda; but still my fate led meto forebode what she assured me against. Don Fernando contrived alwaysto read the letters I sent to Luscinda and her answers to me, underthe pretence that he enjoyed the wit and sense of both. It sohappened, then, that Luscinda having begged of me a book of chivalryto read, one that she was very fond of, Amadis of Gaul-"

Don Quixote no sooner heard a book of chivalry mentioned, than hesaid:

"Had your worship told me at the beginning of your story that theLady Luscinda was fond of books of chivalry, no other laudationwould have been requisite to impress upon me the superiority of herunderstanding, for it could not have been of the excellence youdescribe had a taste for such delightful reading been wanting; so,as far as I am concerned, you need waste no more words in describingher beauty, worth, and intelligence; for, on merely hearing what hertaste was, I declare her to be the most beautiful and the mostintelligent woman in the world; and I wish your worship had, alongwith Amadis of Gaul, sent her the worthy Don Rugel of Greece, for Iknow the Lady Luscinda would greatly relish Daraida and Garaya, andthe shrewd sayings of the shepherd Darinel, and the admirable versesof his bucolics, sung and delivered by him with such sprightliness,wit, and ease; but a time may come when this omission can be remedied,and to rectify it nothing more is needed than for your worship to beso good as to come with me to my village, for there I can give youmore than three hundred books which are the delight of my soul and theentertainment of my life;- though it occurs to me that I have notgot one of them now, thanks to the spite of wicked and enviousenchanters;- but pardon me for having broken the promise we made notto interrupt your discourse; for when I hear chivalry orknights-errant mentioned, I can no more help talking about them thanthe rays of the sun can help giving heat, or those of the moonmoisture; pardon me, therefore, and proceed, for that is more to thepurpose now."

While Don Quixote was saying this, Cardenio allowed his head to fallupon his breast, and seemed plunged in deep thought; and thoughtwice Don Quixote bade him go on with his story, he neither lookedup nor uttered a word in reply; but after some time he raised his headand said, "I cannot get rid of the idea, nor will anyone in theworld remove it, or make me think otherwise -and he would be ablockhead who would hold or believe anything else than that thatarrant knave Master Elisabad made free with Queen Madasima."

"That is not true, by all that's good," said Don Quixote in highwrath, turning upon him angrily, as his way was; "and it is a verygreat slander, or rather villainy. Queen Madasima was a veryillustrious lady, and it is not to be supposed that so exalted aprincess would have made free with a quack; and whoever maintainsthe contrary lies like a great scoundrel, and I will give him toknow it, on foot or on horseback, armed or unarmed, by night or byday, or as he likes best."

Cardenio was looking at him steadily, and his mad fit having nowcome upon him, he had no disposition to go on with his story, norwould Don Quixote have listened to it, so much had what he had heardabout Madasima disgusted him. Strange to say, he stood up for her asif she were in earnest his veritable born lady; to such a pass had hisunholy books brought him. Cardenio, then, being, as I said, now mad,when he heard himself given the lie, and called a scoundrel andother insulting names, not relishing the jest, snatched up a stonethat he found near him, and with it delivered such a blow on DonQuixote's breast that he laid him on his back. Sancho Panza, seeinghis master treated in this fashion, attacked the madman with hisclosed fist; but the Ragged One received him in such a way that with ablow of his fist he stretched him at his feet, and then mountingupon him crushed his ribs to his own satisfaction; the goatherd, whocame to the rescue, shared the same fate; and having beaten andpummelled them all he left them and quietly withdrew to hishiding-place on the mountain. Sancho rose, and with the rage he feltat finding himself so belaboured without deserving it, ran to takevengeance on the goatherd, accusing him of not giving them warningthat this man was at times taken with a mad fit, for if they had knownit they would have been on their guard to protect themselves. Thegoatherd replied that he had said so, and that if he had not heardhim, that was no fault of his. Sancho retorted, and the goatherdrejoined, and the altercation ended in their seizing each other by thebeard, and exchanging such fisticuffs that if Don Quixote had not madepeace between them, they would have knocked one another to pieces.

"Leave me alone, Sir Knight of the Rueful Countenance," said Sancho,grappling with the goatherd, "for of this fellow, who is a clownlike myself, and no dubbed knight, I can safely take satisfactionfor the affront he has offered me, fighting with him hand to hand likean honest man."

"That is true," said Don Quixote, "but I know that he is not toblame for what has happened."

With this he pacified them, and again asked the goatherd if it wouldbe possible to find Cardenio, as he felt the greatest anxiety toknow the end of his story. The goatherd told him, as he had told himbefore, that there was no knowing of a certainty where his lair was;but that if he wandered about much in that neighbourhood he couldnot fail to fall in with him either in or out of his senses.

CHAPTER XXV

WHICH TREATS OF THE STRANGE THINGS THAT HAPPENED TO THE STOUT KNIGHTOF LA MANCHA IN THE SIERRA MORENA, AND OF HIS IMITATION OF THE PENANCEOF BELTENEBROS

Don Quixote took leave of the goatherd, and once more mountingRocinante bade Sancho follow him, which he having no ass, did verydiscontentedly. They proceeded slowly, making their way into themost rugged part of the mountain, Sancho all the while dying to have atalk with his master, and longing for him to begin, so that thereshould be no breach of the injunction laid upon him; but unable tokeep silence so long he said to him:

"Senor Don Quixote, give me your worship's blessing and dismissal,for I'd like to go home at once to my wife and children with whom Ican at any rate talk and converse as much as I like; for to want me togo through these solitudes day and night and not speak to you when Ihave a mind is burying me alive. If luck would have it that animalsspoke as they did in the days of Guisopete, it would not be so bad,because I could talk to Rocinante about whatever came into my head,and so put up with my ill-fortune; but it is a hard case, and not tobe borne with patience, to go seeking adventures all one's life andget nothing but kicks and blanketings, brickbats and punches, and withall this to have to sew up one's mouth without daring to say what isin one's heart, just as if one were dumb."

"I understand thee, Sancho," replied Don Quixote; "thou art dying tohave the interdict I placed upon thy tongue removed; consider itremoved, and say what thou wilt while we are wandering in thesemountains."

"So be it," said Sancho; "let me speak now, for God knows whatwill happen by-and-by; and to take advantage of the permit at once,I ask, what made your worship stand up so for that Queen Majimasa,or whatever her name is, or what did it matter whether that abbotwas a friend of hers or not? for if your worship had let that pass-and you were not a judge in the matter- it is my belief the madmanwould have gone on with his story, and the blow of the stone, andthe kicks, and more than half a dozen cuffs would have been escaped."

"In faith, Sancho," answered Don Quixote, "if thou knewest as I dowhat an honourable and illustrious lady Queen Madasima was, I knowthou wouldst say I had great patience that I did not break in piecesthe mouth that uttered such blasphemies, for a very great blasphemy itis to say or imagine that a queen has made free with a surgeon. Thetruth of the story is that that Master Elisabad whom the madmanmentioned was a man of great prudence and sound judgment, and servedas governor and physician to the queen, but to suppose that she washis mistress is nonsense deserving very severe punishment; and as aproof that Cardenio did not know what he was saying, remember whenhe said it he was out of his wits."

"That is what I say," said Sancho; "there was no occasion forminding the words of a madman; for if good luck had not helped yourworship, and he had sent that stone at your head instead of at yourbreast, a fine way we should have been in for standing up for mylady yonder, God confound her! And then, would not Cardenio havegone free as a madman?"

"Against men in their senses or against madmen," said Don Quixote,"every knight-errant is bound to stand up for the honour of women,whoever they may be, much more for queens of such high degree anddignity as Queen Madasima, for whom I have a particular regard onaccount of her amiable qualities; for, besides being extremelybeautiful, she was very wise, and very patient under hermisfortunes, of which she had many; and the counsel and society of theMaster Elisabad were a great help and support to her in enduring herafflictions with wisdom and resignation; hence the ignorant andill-disposed vulgar took occasion to say and think that she was hismistress; and they lie, I say it once more, and will lie two hundredtimes more, all who think and say so."

"I neither say nor think so," said Sancho; "let them look to it;with their bread let them eat it; they have rendered account to Godwhether they misbehaved or not; I come from my vineyard, I knownothing; I am not fond of prying into other men's lives; he who buysand lies feels it in his purse; moreover, naked was I born, naked Ifind myself, I neither lose nor gain; but if they did, what is that tome? many think there are flitches where there are no hooks; but whocan put gates to the open plain? moreover they said of God-"

"God bless me," said Don Quixote, "what a set of absurdities thouart stringing together! What has what we are talking about got to dowith the proverbs thou art threading one after the other? for God'ssake hold thy tongue, Sancho, and henceforward keep to prodding thyass and don't meddle in what does not concern thee; and understandwith all thy five senses that everything I have done, am doing, orshall do, is well founded on reason and in conformity with the rulesof chivalry, for I understand them better than all the world thatprofess them."

"Senor," replied Sancho, "is it a good rule of chivalry that weshould go astray through these mountains without path or road, lookingfor a madman who when he is found will perhaps take a fancy tofinish what he began, not his story, but your worship's head and myribs, and end by breaking them altogether for us?"

"Peace, I say again, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "for let me tellthee it is not so much the desire of finding that madman that leads meinto these regions as that which I have of performing among them anachievement wherewith I shall win eternal name and fame throughout theknown world; and it shall be such that I shall thereby set the seal onall that can make a knight-errant perfect and famous."

"And is it very perilous, this achievement?"

"No," replied he of the Rueful Countenance; "though it may be in thedice that we may throw deuce-ace instead of sixes; but all will dependon thy diligence."

"On my diligence!" said Sancho.

"Yes," said Don Quixote, "for if thou dost return soon from theplace where I mean to send thee, my penance will be soon over, andmy glory will soon begin. But as it is not right to keep thee anylonger in suspense, waiting to see what comes of my words, I wouldhave thee know, Sancho, that the famous Amadis of Gaul was one ofthe most perfect knights-errant- I am wrong to say he was one; hestood alone, the first, the only one, the lord of all that were in theworld in his time. A fig for Don Belianis, and for all who say heequalled him in any respect, for, my oath upon it, they aredeceiving themselves! I say, too, that when a painter desires tobecome famous in his art he endeavours to copy the originals of therarest painters that he knows; and the same rule holds good for allthe most important crafts and callings that serve to adorn a state;thus must he who would be esteemed prudent and patient imitateUlysses, in whose person and labours Homer presents to us a livelypicture of prudence and patience; as Virgil, too, shows us in theperson of AEneas the virtue of a pious son and the sagacity of a braveand skilful captain; not representing or describing them as they were,but as they ought to be, so as to leave the example of their virtuesto posterity. In the same way Amadis was the polestar, day-star, sunof valiant and devoted knights, whom all we who fight under the bannerof love and chivalry are bound to imitate. This, then, being so, Iconsider, friend Sancho, that the knight-errant who shall imitatehim most closely will come nearest to reaching the perfection ofchivalry. Now one of the instances in which this knight mostconspicuously showed his prudence, worth, valour, endurance,fortitude, and love, was when he withdrew, rejected by the LadyOriana, to do penance upon the Pena Pobre, changing his name into thatof Beltenebros, a name assuredly significant and appropriate to thelife which he had voluntarily adopted. So, as it is easier for me toimitate him in this than in cleaving giants asunder, cutting offserpents' heads, slaying dragons, routing armies, destroying fleets,and breaking enchantments, and as this place is so well suited for asimilar purpose, I must not allow the opportunity to escape whichnow so conveniently offers me its forelock."

Title: Don Quixote
Author: Miqeul de Cervantes
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