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Miqeul de Cervantes >> Don Quixote (page 39)


They took leave of all, and of the good Maritornes, who, sinner asshe was, promised to pray a rosary of prayers that God might grantthem success in such an arduous and Christian undertaking as that theyhad in hand. But hardly had he sallied forth from the inn when itstruck the curate that he was doing wrong in rigging himself out inthat fashion, as it was an indecorous thing for a priest to dresshimself that way even though much might depend upon it; and sayingso to the barber he begged him to change dresses, as it was fitterhe should be the distressed damsel, while he himself would play thesquire's part, which would be less derogatory to his dignity;otherwise he was resolved to have nothing more to do with thematter, and let the devil take Don Quixote. Just at this moment Sanchocame up, and on seeing the pair in such a costume he was unable torestrain his laughter; the barber, however, agreed to do as the curatewished, and, altering their plan, the curate went on to instruct himhow to play his part and what to say to Don Quixote to induce andcompel him to come with them and give up his fancy for the place hehad chosen for his idle penance. The barber told him he could manageit properly without any instruction, and as he did not care to dresshimself up until they were near where Don Quixote was, he folded upthe garments, and the curate adjusted his beard, and they set outunder the guidance of Sancho Panza, who went along telling them of theencounter with the madman they met in the Sierra, saying nothing,however, about the finding of the valise and its contents; for withall his simplicity the lad was a trifle covetous.

The next day they reached the place where Sancho had laid thebroom-branches as marks to direct him to where he had left his master,and recognising it he told them that here was the entrance, and thatthey would do well to dress themselves, if that was required todeliver his master; for they had already told him that going in thisguise and dressing in this way were of the highest importance in orderto rescue his master from the pernicious life he had adopted; and theycharged him strictly not to tell his master who they were, or thathe knew them, and should he ask, as ask he would, if he had giventhe letter to Dulcinea, to say that he had, and that, as she did notknow how to read, she had given an answer by word of mouth, sayingthat she commanded him, on pain of her displeasure, to come and seeher at once; and it was a very important matter for himself, becausein this way and with what they meant to say to him they felt sure ofbringing him back to a better mode of life and inducing him to takeimmediate steps to become an emperor or monarch, for there was no fearof his becoming an archbishop. All this Sancho listened to and fixedit well in his memory, and thanked them heartily for intending torecommend his master to be an emperor instead of an archbishop, for hefelt sure that in the way of bestowing rewards on their squiresemperors could do more than archbishops-errant. He said, too, thatit would be as well for him to go on before them to find him, and givehim his lady's answer; for that perhaps might be enough to bring himaway from the place without putting them to all this trouble. Theyapproved of what Sancho proposed, and resolved to wait for him untilhe brought back word of having found his master.

Sancho pushed on into the glens of the Sierra, leaving them in onethrough which there flowed a little gentle rivulet, and where therocks and trees afforded a cool and grateful shade. It was an Augustday with all the heat of one, and the heat in those parts isintense, and the hour was three in the afternoon, all which made thespot the more inviting and tempted them to wait there for Sancho'sreturn, which they did. They were reposing, then, in the shade, when avoice unaccompanied by the notes of any instrument, but sweet andpleasing in its tone, reached their ears, at which they were not alittle astonished, as the place did not seem to them likely quartersfor one who sang so well; for though it is often said that shepherdsof rare voice are to be found in the woods and fields, this israther a flight of the poet's fancy than the truth. And still moresurprised were they when they perceived that what they heard sung werethe verses not of rustic shepherds, but of the polished wits of thecity; and so it proved, for the verses they heard were these:

What makes my quest of happiness seem vain?Disdain.What bids me to abandon hope of ease?Jealousies.What holds my heart in anguish of suspense?Absence.If that be so, then for my griefWhere shall I turn to seek relief,When hope on every side lies slainBy Absence, Jealousies, Disdain?

What the prime cause of all my woe doth prove?Love.What at my glory ever looks askance?Chance.Whence is permission to afflict me given?Heaven.If that be so, I but awaitThe stroke of a resistless fate,Since, working for my woe, these three,Love, Chance and Heaven, in league I see.

What must I do to find a remedy?Die.What is the lure for love when coy and strange?Change.What, if all fail, will cure the heart of sadness?Madness.If that be so, it is but follyTo seek a cure for melancholy:Ask where it lies; the answer saithIn Change, in Madness, or in Death.

The hour, the summer season, the solitary place, the voice and skillof the singer, all contributed to the wonder and delight of the twolisteners, who remained still waiting to hear something more; finding,however, that the silence continued some little time, they resolved togo in search of the musician who sang with so fine a voice; but justas they were about to do so they were checked by the same voice, whichonce more fell upon their ears, singing this

SONNET

When heavenward, holy Friendship, thou didst goSoaring to seek thy home beyond the sky,And take thy seat among the saints on high,It was thy will to leave on earth belowThy semblance, and upon it to bestowThy veil, wherewith at times hypocrisy,Parading in thy shape, deceives the eye,And makes its vileness bright as virtue show.Friendship, return to us, or force the cheatThat wears it now, thy livery to restore,By aid whereof sincerity is slain.If thou wilt not unmask thy counterfeit,This earth will be the prey of strife once more,As when primaeval discord held its reign.

The song ended with a deep sigh, and again the listeners remainedwaiting attentively for the singer to resume; but perceiving thatthe music had now turned to sobs and heart-rending moans theydetermined to find out who the unhappy being could be whose voicewas as rare as his sighs were piteous, and they had not proceededfar when on turning the corner of a rock they discovered a man ofthe same aspect and appearance as Sancho had described to them when hetold them the story of Cardenio. He, showing no astonishment when hesaw them, stood still with his head bent down upon his breast like onein deep thought, without raising his eyes to look at them after thefirst glance when they suddenly came upon him. The curate, who wasaware of his misfortune and recognised him by the description, being aman of good address, approached him and in a few sensible wordsentreated and urged him to quit a life of such misery, lest heshould end it there, which would be the greatest of all misfortunes.Cardenio was then in his right mind, free from any attack of thatmadness which so frequently carried him away, and seeing themdressed in a fashion so unusual among the frequenters of thosewilds, could not help showing some surprise, especially when heheard them speak of his case as if it were a well-known matter (forthe curate's words gave him to understand as much) so he replied tothem thus:

"I see plainly, sirs, whoever you may be, that Heaven, whose care itis to succour the good, and even the wicked very often, here, inthis remote spot, cut off from human intercourse, sends me, though Ideserve it not, those who seek to draw me away from this to somebetter retreat, showing me by many and forcible arguments howunreasonably I act in leading the life I do; but as they know, that ifI escape from this evil I shall fall into another still greater,perhaps they will set me down as a weak-minded man, or, what is worse,one devoid of reason; nor would it be any wonder, for I myself canperceive that the effect of the recollection of my misfortunes is sogreat and works so powerfully to my ruin, that in spite of myself Ibecome at times like a stone, without feeling or consciousness; andI come to feel the truth of it when they tell me and show me proofs ofthe things I have done when the terrible fit overmasters me; and all Ican do is bewail my lot in vain, and idly curse my destiny, andplead for my madness by telling how it was caused, to any that care tohear it; for no reasonable beings on learning the cause will wonder atthe effects; and if they cannot help me at least they will not blameme, and the repugnance they feel at my wild ways will turn into pityfor my woes. If it be, sirs, that you are here with the same design asothers have come wah, before you proceed with your wise arguments, Ientreat you to hear the story of my countless misfortunes, for perhapswhen you have heard it you will spare yourselves the trouble you wouldtake in offering consolation to grief that is beyond the reach of it."

As they, both of them, desired nothing more than to hear from hisown lips the cause of his suffering, they entreated him to tell it,promising not to do anything for his relief or comfort that he did notwish; and thereupon the unhappy gentleman began his sad story innearly the same words and manner in which he had related it to DonQuixote and the goatherd a few days before, when, through MasterElisabad, and Don Quixote's scrupulous observance of what was due tochivalry, the tale was left unfinished, as this history has alreadyrecorded; but now fortunately the mad fit kept off, allowed him totell it to the end; and so, coming to the incident of the note whichDon Fernando had found in the volume of "Amadis of Gaul," Cardeniosaid that he remembered it perfectly and that it was in these words:

"Luscinda to Cardenio.

"Every day I discover merits in you that oblige and compel me tohold you in higher estimation; so if you desire to relieve me ofthis obligation without cost to my honour, you may easily do so. Ihave a father who knows you and loves me dearly, who without puttingany constraint on my inclination will grant what will be reasonablefor you to have, if it be that you value me as you say and as Ibelieve you do."

"By this letter I was induced, as I told you, to demand Luscinda formy wife, and it was through it that Luscinda came to be regarded byDon Fernando as one of the most discreet and prudent women of the day,and this letter it was that suggested his design of ruining mebefore mine could be carried into effect. I told Don Fernando that allLuscinda's father was waiting for was that mine should ask her of him,which I did not dare to suggest to him, fearing that he would notconsent to do so; not because he did not know perfectly well the rank,goodness, virtue, and beauty of Luscinda, and that she had qualitiesthat would do honour to any family in Spain, but because I was awarethat he did not wish me to marry so soon, before seeing what theDuke Ricardo would do for me. In short, I told him I did not ventureto mention it to my father, as well on account of that difficulty,as of many others that discouraged me though I knew not well what theywere, only that it seemed to me that what I desired was never tocome to pass. To all this Don Fernando answered that he would takeit upon himself to speak to my father, and persuade him to speak toLuscinda's father. O, ambitious Marius! O, cruel Catiline! O, wickedSylla! O, perfidious Ganelon! O, treacherous Vellido! O, vindictiveJulian! O, covetous Judas! Traitor, cruel, vindictive, and perfidious,wherein had this poor wretch failed in his fidelity, who with suchfrankness showed thee the secrets and the joys of his heart? Whatoffence did I commit? What words did I utter, or what counsels did Igive that had not the furtherance of thy honour and welfare fortheir aim? But, woe is me, wherefore do I complain? for sure it isthat when misfortunes spring from the stars, descending from on highthey fall upon us with such fury and violence that no power on earthcan check their course nor human device stay their coming. Who couldhave thought that Don Fernando, a highborn gentleman, intelligent,bound to me by gratitude for my services, one that could win theobject of his love wherever he might set his affections, could havebecome so obdurate, as they say, as to rob me of my one ewe lambthat was not even yet in my possession? But laying aside these uselessand unavailing reflections, let us take up the broken thread of myunhappy story.

"To proceed, then: Don Fernando finding my presence an obstacle tothe execution of his treacherous and wicked design, resolved to sendme to his elder brother under the pretext of asking money from himto pay for six horses which, purposely, and with the sole object ofsending me away that he might the better carry out his infernalscheme, he had purchased the very day he offered to speak to myfather, and the price of which he now desired me to fetch. Could Ihave anticipated this treachery? Could I by any chance havesuspected it? Nay; so far from that, I offered with the greatestpleasure to go at once, in my satisfaction at the good bargain thathad been made. That night I spoke with Luscinda, and told her what hadbeen agreed upon with Don Fernando, and how I had strong hopes ofour fair and reasonable wishes being realised. She, as unsuspicious asI was of the treachery of Don Fernando, bade me try to returnspeedily, as she believed the fulfilment of our desires would bedelayed only so long as my father put off speaking to hers. I know notwhy it was that on saying this to me her eyes filled with tears, andthere came a lump in her throat that prevented her from uttering aword of many more that it seemed to me she was striving to say tome. I was astonished at this unusual turn, which I never beforeobserved in her. for we always conversed, whenever good fortune and myingenuity gave us the chance, with the greatest gaiety andcheerfulness, mingling tears, sighs, jealousies, doubts, or fears withour words; it was all on my part a eulogy of my good fortune thatHeaven should have given her to me for my mistress; I glorified herbeauty, I extolled her worth and her understanding; and she paid meback by praising in me what in her love for me she thought worthy ofpraise; and besides we had a hundred thousand trifles and doings ofour neighbours and acquaintances to talk about, and the utmostextent of my boldness was to take, almost by force, one of her fairwhite hands and carry it to my lips, as well as the closeness of thelow grating that separated us allowed me. But the night before theunhappy day of my departure she wept, she moaned, she sighed, andshe withdrew leaving me filled with perplexity and amazement,overwhelmed at the sight of such strange and affecting signs ofgrief and sorrow in Luscinda; but not to dash my hopes I ascribed itall to the depth of her love for me and the pain that separation givesthose who love tenderly. At last I took my departure, sad anddejected, my heart filled with fancies and suspicions, but not knowingwell what it was I suspected or fancied; plain omens pointing to thesad event and misfortune that was awaiting me.

Title: Don Quixote
Author: Miqeul de Cervantes
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