Miqeul de Cervantes >> Don Quixote (page 45)

"Blockhead!" said Don Quixote at this, "it is no business or concernof knights-errant to inquire whether any persons in affliction, inchains, or oppressed that they may meet on the high roads go thatway and suffer as they do because of their faults or because oftheir misfortunes. It only concerns them to aid them as persons inneed of help, having regard to their sufferings and not to theirrascalities. I encountered a chaplet or string of miserable andunfortunate people, and did for them what my sense of duty demandsof me, and as for the rest be that as it may; and whoever takesobjection to it, saving the sacred dignity of the senor licentiate andhis honoured person, I say he knows little about chivalry and lieslike a whoreson villain, and this I will give him to know to thefullest extent with my sword;" and so saying he settled himself in hisstirrups and pressed down his morion; for the barber's basin, whichaccording to him was Mambrino's helmet, he carried hanging at thesaddle-bow until he could repair the damage done to it by the galleyslaves.

Dorothea, who was shrewd and sprightly, and by this timethoroughly understood Don Quixote's crazy turn, and that all exceptSancho Panza were making game of him, not to be behind the rest saidto him, on observing his irritation, "Sir Knight, remember the boonyou have promised me, and that in accordance with it you must notengage in any other adventure, be it ever so pressing; calmyourself, for if the licentiate had known that the galley slaves hadbeen set free by that unconquered arm he would have stopped hismouth thrice over, or even bitten his tongue three times before hewould have said a word that tended towards disrespect of yourworship."

"That I swear heartily," said the curate, "and I would have evenplucked off a moustache."

"I will hold my peace, senora," said Don Quixote, "and I will curbthe natural anger that had arisen in my breast, and will proceed inpeace and quietness until I have fulfilled my promise; but in returnfor this consideration I entreat you to tell me, if you have noobjection to do so, what is the nature of your trouble, and howmany, who, and what are the persons of whom I am to require duesatisfaction, and on whom I am to take vengeance on your behalf?"

"That I will do with all my heart," replied Dorothea, "if it willnot be wearisome to you to hear of miseries and misfortunes."

"It will not be wearisome, senora," said Don Quixote; to whichDorothea replied, "Well, if that be so, give me your attention." Assoon as she said this, Cardenio and the barber drew close to her side,eager to hear what sort of story the quick-witted Dorothea wouldinvent for herself; and Sancho did the same, for he was as muchtaken in by her as his master; and she having settled herselfcomfortably in the saddle, and with the help of coughing and otherpreliminaries taken time to think, began with great sprightliness ofmanner in this fashion.

"First of all, I would have you know, sirs, that my name is-" andhere she stopped for a moment, for she forgot the name the curatehad given her; but he came to her relief, seeing what her difficultywas, and said, "It is no wonder, senora, that your highness shouldbe confused and embarrassed in telling the tale of your misfortunes;for such afflictions often have the effect of depriving thesufferers of memory, so that they do not even remember their ownnames, as is the case now with your ladyship, who has forgotten thatshe is called the Princess Micomicona, lawful heiress of the greatkingdom of Micomicon; and with this cue your highness may now recallto your sorrowful recollection all you may wish to tell us."

"That is the truth," said the damsel; "but I think from this on Ishall have no need of any prompting, and I shall bring my true storysafe into port, and here it is. The king my father, who was calledTinacrio the Sapient, was very learned in what they call magic arts,and became aware by his craft that my mother, who was called QueenJaramilla, was to die before he did, and that soon after he too was todepart this life, and I was to be left an orphan without father ormother. But all this, he declared, did not so much grieve ordistress him as his certain knowledge that a prodigious giant, thelord of a great island close to our kingdom, Pandafilando of the Scowlby name -for it is averred that, though his eyes are properly placedand straight, he always looks askew as if he squinted, and this hedoes out of malignity, to strike fear and terror into those he looksat- that he knew, I say, that this giant on becoming aware of myorphan condition would overrun my kingdom with a mighty force andstrip me of all, not leaving me even a small village to shelter me;but that I could avoid all this ruin and misfortune if I werewilling to marry him; however, as far as he could see, he neverexpected that I would consent to a marriage so unequal; and he said nomore than the truth in this, for it has never entered my mind to marrythat giant, or any other, let him be ever so great or enormous. Myfather said, too, that when he was dead, and I saw Pandafilandoabout to invade my kingdom, I was not to wait and attempt to defendmyself, for that would be destructive to me, but that I should leavethe kingdom entirely open to him if I wished to avoid the death andtotal destruction of my good and loyal vassals, for there would beno possibility of defending myself against the giant's devilish power;and that I should at once with some of my followers set out for Spain,where I should obtain relief in my distress on finding a certainknight-errant whose fame by that time would extend over the wholekingdom, and who would be called, if I remember rightly, Don Azoteor Don Gigote."

"'Don Quixote,' he must have said, senora," observed Sancho at this,"otherwise called the Knight of the Rueful Countenance."

"That is it," said Dorothea; "he said, moreover, that he would betall of stature and lank featured; and that on his right side underthe left shoulder, or thereabouts, he would have a grey mole withhairs like bristles."

On hearing this, Don Quixote said to his squire, "Here, Sancho myson, bear a hand and help me to strip, for I want to see if I am theknight that sage king foretold."

"What does your worship want to strip for?" said Dorothea.

"To see if I have that mole your father spoke of," answered DonQuixote.

"There is no occasion to strip," said Sancho; "for I know yourworship has just such a mole on the middle of your backbone, whichis the mark of a strong man."

"That is enough," said Dorothea, "for with friends we must notlook too closely into trifles; and whether it be on the shoulder or onthe backbone matters little; it is enough if there is a mole, be itwhere it may, for it is all the same flesh; no doubt my good fatherhit the truth in every particular, and I have made a lucky hit incommending myself to Don Quixote; for he is the one my father spokeof, as the features of his countenance correspond with thoseassigned to this knight by that wide fame he has acquired not onlyin Spain but in all La Mancha; for I had scarcely landed at Osuna whenI heard such accounts of his achievements, that at once my hearttold me he was the very one I had come in search of."

"But how did you land at Osuna, senora," asked Don Quixote, "when itis not a seaport?"

But before Dorothea could reply the curate anticipated her,saying, "The princess meant to say that after she had landed at Malagathe first place where she heard of your worship was Osuna."

"That is what I meant to say," said Dorothea.

"And that would be only natural," said the curate. "Will yourmajesty please proceed?"

"There is no more to add," said Dorothea, "save that in findingDon Quixote I have had such good fortune, that I already reckon andregard myself queen and mistress of my entire dominions, since ofhis courtesy and magnanimity he has granted me the boon ofaccompanying me whithersoever I may conduct him, which will be only tobring him face to face with Pandafilando of the Scowl, that he mayslay him and restore to me what has been unjustly usurped by him:for all this must come to pass satisfactorily since my good fatherTinacrio the Sapient foretold it, who likewise left it declared inwriting in Chaldee or Greek characters (for I cannot read them),that if this predicted knight, after having cut the giant's throat,should be disposed to marry me I was to offer myself at once withoutdemur as his lawful wife, and yield him possession of my kingdomtogether with my person."

"What thinkest thou now, friend Sancho?" said Don Quixote at this."Hearest thou that? Did I not tell thee so? See how we have alreadygot a kingdom to govern and a queen to marry!"

"On my oath it is so," said Sancho; "and foul fortune to him whowon't marry after slitting Senor Pandahilado's windpipe! And then, howillfavoured the queen is! I wish the fleas in my bed were that sort!"

And so saying he cut a couple of capers in the air with every signof extreme satisfaction, and then ran to seize the bridle ofDorothea's mule, and checking it fell on his knees before her, beggingher to give him her hand to kiss in token of his acknowledgment of heras his queen and mistress. Which of the bystanders could have helpedlaughing to see the madness of the master and the simplicity of theservant? Dorothea therefore gave her hand, and promised to make hima great lord in her kingdom, when Heaven should be so good as topermit her to recover and enjoy it, for which Sancho returned thanksin words that set them all laughing again.

"This, sirs," continued Dorothea, "is my story; it only remains totell you that of all the attendants I took with me from my kingdom Ihave none left except this well-bearded squire, for all were drownedin a great tempest we encountered when in sight of port; and he andI came to land on a couple of planks as if by a miracle; and indeedthe whole course of my life is a miracle and a mystery as you may haveobserved; and if I have been over minute in any respect or not asprecise as I ought, let it be accounted for by what the licentiatesaid at the beginning of my tale, that constant and excessive troublesdeprive the sufferers of their memory."

"They shall not deprive me of mine, exalted and worthy princess,"said Don Quixote, "however great and unexampled those which I shallendure in your service may be; and here I confirm anew the boon I havepromised you, and I swear to go with you to the end of the world untilI find myself in the presence of your fierce enemy, whose haughty headI trust by the aid of my arm to cut off with the edge of this- Iwill not say good sword, thanks to Gines de Pasamonte who carried awaymine"- (this he said between his teeth, and then continued), "and whenit has been cut off and you have been put in peaceful possession ofyour realm it shall be left to your own decision to dispose of yourperson as may be most pleasing to you; for so long as my memory isoccupied, my will enslaved, and my understanding enthralled by her-I say no more- it is impossible for me for a moment to contemplatemarriage, even with a Phoenix."

The last words of his master about not wanting to marry were sodisagreeable to Sancho that raising his voice he exclaimed withgreat irritation:

"By my oath, Senor Don Quixote, you are not in your right senses;for how can your worship possibly object to marrying such an exaltedprincess as this? Do you think Fortune will offer you behind everystone such a piece of luck as is offered you now? Is my ladyDulcinea fairer, perchance? Not she; nor half as fair; and I will evengo so far as to say she does not come up to the shoe of this one here.A poor chance I have of getting that county I am waiting for if yourworship goes looking for dainties in the bottom of the sea. In thedevil's name, marry, marry, and take this kingdom that comes to handwithout any trouble, and when you are king make me a marquis orgovernor of a province, and for the rest let the devil take it all."

Don Quixote, when he heard such blasphemies uttered against his ladyDulcinea, could not endure it, and lifting his pike, without sayinganything to Sancho or uttering a word, he gave him two such thwacksthat he brought him to the ground; and had it not been that Dorotheacried out to him to spare him he would have no doubt taken his life onthe spot.

"Do you think," he said to him after a pause, "you scurvy clown,that you are to be always interfering with me, and that you are tobe always offending and I always pardoning? Don't fancy it, impiousscoundrel, for that beyond a doubt thou art, since thou hast set thytongue going against the peerless Dulcinea. Know you not, lout,vagabond, beggar, that were it not for the might that she infuses intomy arm I should not have strength enough to kill a flea? Say,scoffer with a viper's tongue, what think you has won this kingdom andcut off this giant's head and made you a marquis (for all this I countas already accomplished and decided), but the might of Dulcinea,employing my arm as the instrument of her achievements? She fightsin me and conquers in me, and I live and breathe in her, and owe mylife and being to her. O whoreson scoundrel, how ungrateful you are,you see yourself raised from the dust of the earth to be a titledlord, and the return you make for so great a benefit is to speakevil of her who has conferred it upon you!"

Sancho was not so stunned but that he heard all his master said, andrising with some degree of nimbleness he ran to place himself behindDorothea's palfrey, and from that position he said to his master:

"Tell me, senor; if your worship is resolved not to marry this greatprincess, it is plain the kingdom will not be yours; and not being so,how can you bestow favours upon me? That is what I complain of. Letyour worship at any rate marry this queen, now that we have got herhere as if showered down from heaven, and afterwards you may go backto my lady Dulcinea; for there must have been kings in the world whokept mistresses. As to beauty, I have nothing to do with it; and ifthe truth is to be told, I like them both; though I have never seenthe lady Dulcinea."

Title: Don Quixote
Author: Miqeul de Cervantes
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