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Miqeul de Cervantes >> Don Quixote (page 43)


"But while I was in the city, uncertain what to do, as I could notfind Don Fernando, I heard notice given by the public crier offering agreat reward to anyone who should find me, and giving theparticulars of my age and of the very dress I wore; and I heard itsaid that the lad who came with me had taken me away from myfather's house; a thing that cut me to the heart, showing how low mygood name had fallen, since it was not enough that I should lose it bymy flight, but they must add with whom I had fled, and that one somuch beneath me and so unworthy of my consideration. The instant Iheard the notice I quitted the city with my servant, who now beganto show signs of wavering in his fidelity to me, and the same night,for fear of discovery, we entered the most thickly wooded part ofthese mountains. But, as is commonly said, one evil calls up anotherand the end of one misfortune is apt to be the beginning of onestill greater, and so it proved in my case; for my worthy servant,until then so faithful and trusty when he found me in this lonelyspot, moved more by his own villainy than by my beauty, sought to takeadvantage of the opportunity which these solitudes seemed to presenthim, and with little shame and less fear of God and respect for me,began to make overtures to me; and finding that I replied to theeffrontery of his proposals with justly severe language, he laid asidethe entreaties which he had employed at first, and began to useviolence. But just Heaven, that seldom fails to watch over and aidgood intentions, so aided mine that with my slight strength and withlittle exertion I pushed him over a precipice, where I left him,whether dead or alive I know not; and then, with greater speed thanseemed possible in my terror and fatigue, I made my way into themountains, without any other thought or purpose save that of hidingmyself among them, and escaping my father and those despatched insearch of me by his orders. It is now I know not how many months sincewith this object I came here, where I met a herdsman who engaged me ashis servant at a place in the heart of this Sierra, and all thistime I have been serving him as herd, striving to keep always afieldto hide these locks which have now unexpectedly betrayed me. But allmy care and pains were unavailing, for my master made the discoverythat I was not a man, and harboured the same base designs as myservant; and as fortune does not always supply a remedy in cases ofdifficulty, and I had no precipice or ravine at hand down which tofling the master and cure his passion, as I had in the servant's case,I thought it a lesser evil to leave him and again conceal myself amongthese crags, than make trial of my strength and argument with him. So,as I say, once more I went into hiding to seek for some place whereI might with sighs and tears implore Heaven to have pity on my misery,and grant me help and strength to escape from it, or let me dieamong the solitudes, leaving no trace of an unhappy being who, by nofault of hers, has furnished matter for talk and scandal at home andabroad."

CHAPTER XXIX

WHICH TREATS OF THE DROLL DEVICE AND METHOD ADOPTED TO EXTRICATE OURLOVE-STRICKEN KNIGHT FROM THE SEVERE PENANCE HE HAD IMPOSED UPON HIMSELF

"Such, sirs, is the true story of my sad adventures; judge foryourselves now whether the sighs and lamentations you heard, and thetears that flowed from my eyes, had not sufficient cause even if I hadindulged in them more freely; and if you consider the nature of mymisfortune you will see that consolation is idle, as there is nopossible remedy for it. All I ask of you is, what you may easily andreasonably do, to show me where I may pass my life unharassed by thefear and dread of discovery by those who are in search of me; forthough the great love my parents bear me makes me feel sure of beingkindly received by them, so great is my feeling of shame at the merethought that I cannot present myself before them as they expect,that I had rather banish myself from their sight for ever than lookthem in the face with the reflection that they beheld mine stripped ofthat purity they had a right to expect in me."

With these words she became silent, and the colour that overspreadher face showed plainly the pain and shame she was suffering at heart.In theirs the listeners felt as much pity as wonder at hermisfortunes; but as the curate was just about to offer her someconsolation and advice Cardenio forestalled him, saying, "So then,senora, you are the fair Dorothea, the only daughter of the richClenardo?" Dorothea was astonished at hearing her father's name, andat the miserable appearance of him who mentioned it, for it has beenalready said how wretchedly clad Cardenio was; so she said to him:

"And who may you be, brother, who seem to know my father's name sowell? For so far, if I remember rightly, I have not mentioned it inthe whole story of my misfortunes."

"I am that unhappy being, senora," replied Cardenio, "whom, as youhave said, Luscinda declared to be her husband; I am the unfortunateCardenio, whom the wrong-doing of him who has brought you to yourpresent condition has reduced to the state you see me in, bare,ragged, bereft of all human comfort, and what is worse, of reason, forI only possess it when Heaven is pleased for some short space torestore it to me. I, Dorothea, am he who witnessed the wrong done byDon Fernando, and waited to hear the 'Yes' uttered by which Luscindaowned herself his betrothed: I am he who had not courage enough to seehow her fainting fit ended, or what came of the paper that was foundin her bosom, because my heart had not the fortitude to endure so manystrokes of ill-fortune at once; and so losing patience I quitted thehouse, and leaving a letter with my host, which I entreated him toplace in Luscinda's hands, I betook myself to these solitudes,resolved to end here the life I hated as if it were my mortal enemy.But fate would not rid me of it, contenting itself with robbing meof my reason, perhaps to preserve me for the good fortune I have hadin meeting you; for if that which you have just told us be true, asI believe it to be, it may be that Heaven has yet in store for both ofus a happier termination to our misfortunes than we look for;because seeing that Luscinda cannot marry Don Fernando, being mine, asshe has herself so openly declared, and that Don Fernando cannot marryher as he is yours, we may reasonably hope that Heaven will restore tous what is ours, as it is still in existence and not yet alienatedor destroyed. And as we have this consolation springing from no veryvisionary hope or wild fancy, I entreat you, senora, to form newresolutions in your better mind, as I mean to do in mine, preparingyourself to look forward to happier fortunes; for I swear to you bythe faith of a gentleman and a Christian not to desert you until I seeyou in possession of Don Fernando, and if I cannot by words induce himto recognise his obligation to you, in that case to avail myself ofthe right which my rank as a gentleman gives me, and with just causechallenge him on account of the injury he has done you, notregarding my own wrongs, which I shall leave to Heaven to avenge,while I on earth devote myself to yours."

Cardenio's words completed the astonishment of Dorothea, and notknowing how to return thanks for such an offer, she attempted tokiss his feet; but Cardenio would not permit it, and the licentiatereplied for both, commended the sound reasoning of Cardenio, andlastly, begged, advised, and urged them to come with him to hisvillage, where they might furnish themselves with what they needed,and take measures to discover Don Fernando, or restore Dorothea to herparents, or do what seemed to them most advisable. Cardenio andDorothea thanked him, and accepted the kind offer he made them; andthe barber, who had been listening to all attentively and insilence, on his part some kindly words also, and with no lessgood-will than the curate offered his services in any way that mightbe of use to them. He also explained to them in a few words the objectthat had brought them there, and the strange nature of Don Quixote'smadness, and how they were waiting for his squire, who had gone insearch of him. Like the recollection of a dream, the quarrel he hadhad with Don Quixote came back to Cardenio's memory, and hedescribed it to the others; but he was unable to say what thedispute was about.

At this moment they heard a shout, and recognised it as comingfrom Sancho Panza, who, not finding them where he had left them, wascalling aloud to them. They went to meet him, and in answer to theirinquiries about Don Quixote, be told them how he had found himstripped to his shirt, lank, yellow, half dead with hunger, andsighing for his lady Dulcinea; and although he had told him that shecommanded him to quit that place and come to El Toboso, where shewas expecting him, he had answered that he was determined not toappear in the presence of her beauty until he had done deeds to makehim worthy of her favour; and if this went on, Sancho said, he ran therisk of not becoming an emperor as in duty bound, or even anarchbishop, which was the least he could be; for which reason theyought to consider what was to be done to get him away from there.The licentiate in reply told him not to be uneasy, for they wouldfetch him away in spite of himself. He then told Cardenio and Dorotheawhat they had proposed to do to cure Don Quixote, or at any ratetake him home; upon which Dorothea said that she could play thedistressed damsel better than the barber; especially as she hadthere the dress in which to do it to the life, and that they mighttrust to her acting the part in every particular requisite forcarrying out their scheme, for she had read a great many books ofchivalry, and knew exactly the style in which afflicted damsels beggedboons of knights-errant.

"In that case," said the curate, "there is nothing more requiredthan to set about it at once, for beyond a doubt fortune isdeclaring itself in our favour, since it has so unexpectedly begunto open a door for your relief, and smoothed the way for us to ourobject."

Dorothea then took out of her pillow-case a complete petticoat ofsome rich stuff, and a green mantle of some other fine material, and anecklace and other ornaments out of a little box, and with these in aninstant she so arrayed herself that she looked like a great and richlady. All this, and more, she said, she had taken from home in case ofneed, but that until then she had had no occasion to make use of it.They were all highly delighted with her grace, air, and beauty, anddeclared Don Fernando to be a man of very little taste when herejected such charms. But the one who admired her most was SanchoPanza, for it seemed to him (what indeed was true) that in all thedays of his life he had never seen such a lovely creature; and heasked the curate with great eagerness who this beautiful lady was, andwhat she wanted in these out-of-the-way quarters.

"This fair lady, brother Sancho," replied the curate, "is no lessa personage than the heiress in the direct male line of the greatkingdom of Micomicon, who has come in search of your master to beg aboon of him, which is that he redress a wrong or injury that awicked giant has done her; and from the fame as a good knight whichyour master has acquired far and wide, this princess has come fromGuinea to seek him."

"A lucky seeking and a lucky finding!" said Sancho Panza at this;"especially if my master has the good fortune to redress thatinjury, and right that wrong, and kill that son of a bitch of agiant your worship speaks of; as kill him he will if he meets him,unless, indeed, he happens to be a phantom; for my master has no powerat all against phantoms. But one thing among others I would beg ofyou, senor licentiate, which is, that, to prevent my master taking afancy to be an archbishop, for that is what I'm afraid of, yourworship would recommend him to marry this princess at once; for inthis way he will be disabled from taking archbishop's orders, and willeasily come into his empire, and I to the end of my desires; I havebeen thinking over the matter carefully, and by what I can make outI find it will not do for me that my master should become anarchbishop, because I am no good for the Church, as I am married;and for me now, having as I have a wife and children, to set aboutobtaining dispensations to enable me to hold a place of profit underthe Church, would be endless work; so that, senor, it all turns onmy master marrying this lady at once- for as yet I do not know hergrace, and so I cannot call her by her name."

"She is called the Princess Micomicona," said the curate; "for asher kingdom is Micomicon, it is clear that must be her name."

"There's no doubt of that," replied Sancho, "for I have known manyto take their name and title from the place where they were born andcall themselves Pedro of Alcala, Juan of Ubeda, and Diego ofValladolid; and it may be that over there in Guinea queens have thesame way of taking the names of their kingdoms."

"So it may," said the curate; "and as for your master's marrying,I will do all in my power towards it:" with which Sancho was as muchpleased as the curate was amazed at his simplicity and at seeingwhat a hold the absurdities of his master had taken of his fancy,for he had evidently persuaded himself that he was going to be anemperor.

By this time Dorothea had seated herself upon the curate's mule, andthe barber had fitted the ox-tail beard to his face, and they now toldSancho to conduct them to where Don Quixote was, warning him not tosay that he knew either the licentiate or the barber, as hismaster's becoming an emperor entirely depended on his notrecognising them; neither the curate nor Cardenio, however, thoughtfit to go with them; Cardenio lest he should remind Don Quixote of thequarrel he had with him, and the curate as there was no necessityfor his presence just yet, so they allowed the others to go onbefore them, while they themselves followed slowly on foot. The curatedid not forget to instruct Dorothea how to act, but she said theymight make their minds easy, as everything would be done exactly asthe books of chivalry required and described.

They had gone about three-quarters of a league when theydiscovered Don Quixote in a wilderness of rocks, by this time clothed,but without his armour; and as soon as Dorothea saw him and was toldby Sancho that that was Don Quixote, she whipped her palfrey, thewell-bearded barber following her, and on coming up to him hersquire sprang from his mule and came forward to receive her in hisarms, and she dismounting with great ease of manner advanced tokneel before the feet of Don Quixote; and though he strove to raiseher up, she without rising addressed him in this fashion:

Title: Don Quixote
Author: Miqeul de Cervantes
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