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Miqeul de Cervantes >> Don Quixote (page 36)


"What is it in reality," said Sancho, "that your worship means to doin such an out-of-the-way place as this?"

"Have I not told thee," answered Don Quixote, "that I mean toimitate Amadis here, playing the victim of despair, the madman, themaniac, so as at the same time to imitate the valiant Don Roland, whenat the fountain he had evidence of the fair Angelica havingdisgraced herself with Medoro and through grief thereat went mad,and plucked up trees, troubled the waters of the clear springs, slewdestroyed flocks, burned down huts, levelled houses, dragged maresafter him, and perpetrated a hundred thousand other outrages worthy ofeverlasting renown and record? And though I have no intention ofimitating Roland, or Orlando, or Rotolando (for he went by all thesenames), step by step in all the mad things he did, said, andthought, I will make a rough copy to the best of my power of allthat seems to me most essential; but perhaps I shall content myselfwith the simple imitation of Amadis, who without giving way to anymischievous madness but merely to tears and sorrow, gained as muchfame as the most famous."

"It seems to me," said Sancho, "that the knights who behaved in thisway had provocation and cause for those follies and penances; but whatcause has your worship for going mad? What lady has rejected you, orwhat evidence have you found to prove that the lady Dulcinea delToboso has been trifling with Moor or Christian?"

"There is the point," replied Don Quixote, "and that is the beautyof this business of mine; no thanks to a knight-errant for going madwhen he has cause; the thing is to turn crazy without any provocation,and let my lady know, if I do this in the dry, what I would do inthe moist; moreover I have abundant cause in the long separation Ihave endured from my lady till death, Dulcinea del Toboso; for as thoudidst hear that shepherd Ambrosio say the other day, in absence allills are felt and feared; and so, friend Sancho, waste no time inadvising me against so rare, so happy, and so unheard-of an imitation;mad I am, and mad I must be until thou returnest with the answer toa letter that I mean to send by thee to my lady Dulcinea; and if it besuch as my constancy deserves, my insanity and penance will come to anend; and if it be to the opposite effect, I shall become mad inearnest, and, being so, I shall suffer no more; thus in whatever wayshe may answer I shall escape from the struggle and affliction inwhich thou wilt leave me, enjoying in my senses the boon thoubearest me, or as a madman not feeling the evil thou bringest me.But tell me, Sancho, hast thou got Mambrino's helmet safe? for I sawthee take it up from the ground when that ungrateful wretch tried tobreak it in pieces but could not, by which the fineness of itstemper may be seen."

To which Sancho made answer, "By the living God, Sir Knight of theRueful Countenance, I cannot endure or bear with patience some ofthe things that your worship says; and from them I begin to suspectthat all you tell me about chivalry, and winning kingdoms and empires,and giving islands, and bestowing other rewards and dignities afterthe custom of knights-errant, must be all made up of wind and lies,and all pigments or figments, or whatever we may call them; for whatwould anyone think that heard your worship calling a barber's basinMambrino's helmet without ever seeing the mistake all this time, butthat one who says and maintains such things must have his brainsaddled? I have the basin in my sack all dinted, and I am taking ithome to have it mended, to trim my beard in it, if, by God's grace,I am allowed to see my wife and children some day or other."

"Look here, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "by him thou didst swear byjust now I swear thou hast the most limited understanding that anysquire in the world has or ever had. Is it possible that all this timethou hast been going about with me thou hast never found out thatall things belonging to knights-errant seem to be illusions andnonsense and ravings, and to go always by contraries? And notbecause it really is so, but because there is always a swarm ofenchanters in attendance upon us that change and alter everything withus, and turn things as they please, and according as they are disposedto aid or destroy us; thus what seems to thee a barber's basin seemsto me Mambrino's helmet, and to another it will seem something else;and rare foresight it was in the sage who is on my side to make whatis really and truly Mambrine's helmet seem a basin to everybody,for, being held in such estimation as it is, all the world wouldpursue me to rob me of it; but when they see it is only a barber'sbasin they do not take the trouble to obtain it; as was plainlyshown by him who tried to break it, and left it on the groundwithout taking it, for, by my faith, had he known it he would neverhave left it behind. Keep it safe, my friend, for just now I have noneed of it; indeed, I shall have to take off all this armour andremain as naked as I was born, if I have a mind to follow Rolandrather than Amadis in my penance."

Thus talking they reached the foot of a high mountain which stoodlike an isolated peak among the others that surrounded it. Past itsbase there flowed a gentle brook, all around it spread a meadow sogreen and luxuriant that it was a delight to the eyes to look upon it,and forest trees in abundance, and shrubs and flowers, added to thecharms of the spot. Upon this place the Knight of the RuefulCountenance fixed his choice for the performance of his penance, andas he beheld it exclaimed in a loud voice as though he were out of hissenses:

"This is the place, oh, ye heavens, that I select and choose forbewailing the misfortune in which ye yourselves have plunged me:this is the spot where the overflowings of mine eyes shall swell thewaters of yon little brook, and my deep and endless sighs shall stirunceasingly the leaves of these mountain trees, in testimony and tokenof the pain my persecuted heart is suffering. Oh, ye rural deities,whoever ye be that haunt this lone spot, give ear to the complaintof a wretched lover whom long absence and brooding jealousy havedriven to bewail his fate among these wilds and complain of the hardheart of that fair and ungrateful one, the end and limit of allhuman beauty! Oh, ye wood nymphs and dryads, that dwell in thethickets of the forest, so may the nimble wanton satyrs by whom ye arevainly wooed never disturb your sweet repose, help me to lament myhard fate or at least weary not at listening to it! Oh, Dulcinea delToboso, day of my night, glory of my pain, guide of my path, star ofmy fortune, so may Heaven grant thee in full all thou seekest of it,bethink thee of the place and condition to which absence from thee hasbrought me, and make that return in kindness that is due to myfidelity! Oh, lonely trees, that from this day forward shall bear mecompany in my solitude, give me some sign by the gentle movement ofyour boughs that my presence is not distasteful to you! Oh, thou, mysquire, pleasant companion in my prosperous and adverse fortunes,fix well in thy memory what thou shalt see me do here, so that thoumayest relate and report it to the sole cause of all," and so sayinghe dismounted from Rocinante, and in an instant relieved him of saddleand bridle, and giving him a slap on the croup, said, "He gives theefreedom who is bereft of it himself, oh steed as excellent in deedas thou art unfortunate in thy lot; begone where thou wilt, for thoubearest written on thy forehead that neither Astolfo's hippogriff, northe famed Frontino that cost Bradamante so dear, could equal thee inspeed."

Seeing this Sancho said, "Good luck to him who has saved us thetrouble of stripping the pack-saddle off Dapple! By my faith hewould not have gone without a slap on the croup and something saidin his praise; though if he were here I would not let anyone striphim, for there would be no occasion, as he had nothing of the lover orvictim of despair about him, inasmuch as his master, which I was whileit was God's pleasure, was nothing of the sort; and indeed, Sir Knightof the Rueful Countenance, if my departure and your worship'smadness are to come off in earnest, it will be as well to saddleRocinante again in order that he may supply the want of Dapple,because it will save me time in going and returning: for if I go onfoot I don't know when I shall get there or when I shall get back,as I am, in truth, a bad walker."

"I declare, Sancho," returned Don Quixote, "it shall be as thouwilt, for thy plan does not seem to me a bad one, and three days hencethou wilt depart, for I wish thee to observe in the meantime what I doand say for her sake, that thou mayest be able to tell it."

"But what more have I to see besides what I have seen?" said Sancho.

"Much thou knowest about it!" said Don Quixote. "I have now got totear up my garments, to scatter about my armour, knock my head againstthese rocks, and more of the same sort of thing, which thou mustwitness."

"For the love of God," said Sancho, "be careful, your worship, howyou give yourself those knocks on the head, for you may come acrosssuch a rock, and in such a way, that the very first may put an endto the whole contrivance of this penance; and I should think, ifindeed knocks on the head seem necessary to you, and this businesscannot be done without them, you might be content -as the wholething is feigned, and counterfeit, and in joke- you might becontent, I say, with giving them to yourself in the water, oragainst something soft, like cotton; and leave it all to me; forI'll tell my lady that your worship knocked your head against apoint of rock harder than a diamond."

"I thank thee for thy good intentions, friend Sancho," answeredDon Quixote, "but I would have thee know that all these things I amdoing are not in joke, but very much in earnest, for anything elsewould be a transgression of the ordinances of chivalry, which forbidus to tell any lie whatever under the penalties due to apostasy; andto do one thing instead of another is just the same as lying; so myknocks on the head must be real, solid, and valid, without anythingsophisticated or fanciful about them, and it will be needful toleave me some lint to dress my wounds, since fortune has compelledus to do without the balsam we lost."

"It was worse losing the ass," replied Sancho, "for with him lintand all were lost; but I beg of your worship not to remind me again ofthat accursed liquor, for my soul, not to say my stomach, turns athearing the very name of it; and I beg of you, too, to reckon aspast the three days you allowed me for seeing the mad things you do,for I take them as seen already and pronounced upon, and I will tellwonderful stories to my lady; so write the letter and send me off atonce, for I long to return and take your worship out of this purgatorywhere I am leaving you."

"Purgatory dost thou call it, Sancho?" said Don Quixote, "rathercall it hell, or even worse if there be anything worse."

"For one who is in hell," said Sancho, "nulla est retentio, as Ihave heard say."

"I do not understand what retentio means," said Don Quixote.

"Retentio," answered Sancho, "means that whoever is in hell nevercomes nor can come out of it, which will be the opposite case withyour worship or my legs will be idle, that is if I have spurs toenliven Rocinante: let me once get to El Toboso and into thepresence of my lady Dulcinea, and I will tell her such things of thefollies and madnesses (for it is all one) that your worship has doneand is still doing, that I will manage to make her softer than a glovethough I find her harder than a cork tree; and with her sweet andhoneyed answer I will come back through the air like a witch, and takeyour worship out of this purgatory that seems to be hell but is not,as there is hope of getting out of it; which, as I have said, those inhell have not, and I believe your worship will not say anything to thecontrary."

"That is true," said he of the Rueful Countenance, "but how shall wemanage to write the letter?"

"And the ass-colt order too," added Sancho.

"All shall be included," said Don Quixote; "and as there is nopaper, it would be well done to write it on the leaves of trees, asthe ancients did, or on tablets of wax; though that would be as hardto find just now as paper. But it has just occurred to me how it maybe conveniently and even more than conveniently written, and that isin the note-book that belonged to Cardenio, and thou wilt take care tohave it copied on paper, in a good hand, at the first village thoucomest to where there is a schoolmaster, or if not, any sacristan willcopy it; but see thou give it not to any notary to copy, for theywrite a law hand that Satan could not make out."

"But what is to be done about the signature?" said Sancho.

"The letters of Amadis were never signed," said Don Quixote.

"That is all very well," said Sancho, "but the order must needs besigned, and if it is copied they will say the signature is false,and I shall be left without ass-colts."

"The order shall go signed in the same book," said Don Quixote, "andon seeing it my niece will make no difficulty about obeying it; asto the loveletter thou canst put by way of signature, 'Yours tilldeath, the Knight of the Rueful Countenance.' And it will be nogreat matter if it is in some other person's hand, for as well as Irecollect Dulcinea can neither read nor write, nor in the whole courseof her life has she seen handwriting or letter of mine, for my loveand hers have been always platonic, not going beyond a modest look,and even that so seldom that I can safely swear I have not seen herfour times in all these twelve years I have been loving her morethan the light of these eyes that the earth will one day devour; andperhaps even of those four times she has not once perceived that I waslooking at her: such is the retirement and seclusion in which herfather Lorenzo Corchuelo and her mother Aldonza Nogales have broughther up."

"So, so!" said Sancho; "Lorenzo Corchuelo's daughter is the ladyDulcinea del Toboso, otherwise called Aldonza Lorenzo?"

Title: Don Quixote
Author: Miqeul de Cervantes
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