Miqeul de Cervantes >> Don Quixote (page 46)

"How! never seen her, blasphemous traitor!" exclaimed Don Quixote;"hast thou not just now brought me a message from her?"

"I mean," said Sancho, "that I did not see her so much at my leisurethat I could take particular notice of her beauty, or of her charmspiecemeal; but taken in the lump I like her."

"Now I forgive thee," said Don Quixote; "and do thou forgive methe injury I have done thee; for our first impulses are not in ourcontrol."

"That I see," replied Sancho, "and with me the wish to speak isalways the first impulse, and I cannot help saying, once at anyrate, what I have on the tip of my tongue."

"For all that, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "take heed of what thousayest, for the pitcher goes so often to the well- I need say nomore to thee."

"Well, well," said Sancho, "God is in heaven, and sees all tricks,and will judge who does most harm, I in not speaking right, or yourworship in not doing it."

"That is enough," said Dorothea; "run, Sancho, and kiss yourlord's hand and beg his pardon, and henceforward be more circumspectwith your praise and abuse; and say nothing in disparagement of thatlady Toboso, of whom I know nothing save that I am her servant; andput your trust in God, for you will not fail to obtain some dignity soas to live like a prince."

Sancho advanced hanging his head and begged his master's hand, whichDon Quixote with dignity presented to him, giving him his blessingas soon as he had kissed it; he then bade him go on ahead a little, ashe had questions to ask him and matters of great importance to discusswith him. Sancho obeyed, and when the two had gone some distance inadvance Don Quixote said to him, "Since thy return I have had noopportunity or time to ask thee many particulars touching thymission and the answer thou hast brought back, and now that chance hasgranted us the time and opportunity, deny me not the happiness thoucanst give me by such good news."

"Let your worship ask what you will," answered Sancho, "for Ishall find a way out of all as as I found a way in; but I implore you,senor, not not to be so revengeful in future."

"Why dost thou say that, Sancho?" said Don Quixote.

"I say it," he returned, "because those blows just now were morebecause of the quarrel the devil stirred up between us both theother night, than for what I said against my lady Dulcinea, whom Ilove and reverence as I would a relic- though there is nothing of thatabout her- merely as something belonging to your worship."

"Say no more on that subject for thy life, Sancho," said DonQuixote, "for it is displeasing to me; I have already pardoned theefor that, and thou knowest the common saying, 'for a fresh sin a freshpenance.'"

While this was going on they saw coming along the road they werefollowing a man mounted on an ass, who when he came close seemed to bea gipsy; but Sancho Panza, whose eyes and heart were there wherever hesaw asses, no sooner beheld the man than he knew him to be Gines dePasamonte; and by the thread of the gipsy he got at the ball, his ass,for it was, in fact, Dapple that carried Pasamonte, who to escaperecognition and to sell the ass had disguised himself as a gipsy,being able to speak the gipsy language, and many more, as well as ifthey were his own. Sancho saw him and recognised him, and theinstant he did so he shouted to him, "Ginesillo, you thief, give up mytreasure, release my life, embarrass thyself not with my repose,quit my ass, leave my delight, be off, rip, get thee gone, thief,and give up what is not thine."

There was no necessity for so many words or objurgations, for at thefirst one Gines jumped down, and at a like racing speed made off andgot clear of them all. Sancho hastened to his Dapple, and embracinghim he said, "How hast thou fared, my blessing, Dapple of my eyes,my comrade?" all the while kissing him and caressing him as if he werea human being. The ass held his peace, and let himself be kissed andcaressed by Sancho without answering a single word. They all came upand congratulated him on having found Dapple, Don Quixoteespecially, who told him that notwithstanding this he would not cancelthe order for the three ass-colts, for which Sancho thanked him.

While the two had been going along conversing in this fashion, thecurate observed to Dorothea that she had shown great cleverness, aswell in the story itself as in its conciseness, and the resemblance itbore to those of the books of chivalry. She said that she had manytimes amused herself reading them; but that she did not know thesituation of the provinces or seaports, and so she had said athaphazard that she had landed at Osuna.

"So I saw," said the curate, "and for that reason I made haste tosay what I did, by which it was all set right. But is it not a strangething to see how readily this unhappy gentleman believes all thesefigments and lies, simply because they are in the style and mannerof the absurdities of his books?"

"So it is," said Cardenio; "and so uncommon and unexampled, thatwere one to attempt to invent and concoct it in fiction, I doubt ifthere be any wit keen enough to imagine it."

"But another strange thing about it," said the curate, "is that,apart from the silly things which this worthy gentleman says inconnection with his craze, when other subjects are dealt with, hecan discuss them in a perfectly rational manner, showing that his mindis quite clear and composed; so that, provided his chivalry is nottouched upon, no one would take him to be anything but a man ofthoroughly sound understanding."

While they were holding this conversation Don Quixote continuedhis with Sancho, saying:

"Friend Panza, let us forgive and forget as to our quarrels, andtell me now, dismissing anger and irritation, where, how, and whendidst thou find Dulcinea? What was she doing? What didst thou say toher? What did she answer? How did she look when she was reading myletter? Who copied it out for thee? and everything in the matterthat seems to thee worth knowing, asking, and learning; neither addingnor falsifying to give me pleasure, nor yet curtailing lest you shoulddeprive me of it."

"Senor," replied Sancho, "if the truth is to be told, nobodycopied out the letter for me, for I carried no letter at all."

"It is as thou sayest," said Don Quixote, "for the note-book inwhich I wrote it I found in my own possession two days after thydeparture, which gave me very great vexation, as I knew not whatthou wouldst do on finding thyself without any letter; and I made surethou wouldst return from the place where thou didst first miss it."

"So I should have done," said Sancho, "if I had not got it byheart when your worship read it to me, so that I repeated it to asacristan, who copied it out for me from hearing it, so exactly thathe said in all the days of his life, though he had read many aletter of excommunication, he had never seen or read so pretty aletter as that."

"And hast thou got it still in thy memory, Sancho?" said DonQuixote.

"No, senor," replied Sancho, "for as soon as I had repeated it,seeing there was no further use for it, I set about forgetting it; andif I recollect any of it, it is that about 'Scrubbing,'I mean to say'Sovereign Lady,' and the end 'Yours till death, the Knight of theRueful Countenance;' and between these two I put into it more thanthree hundred 'my souls' and 'my life's' and 'my eyes."



"All that is not unsatisfactory to me," said Don Quixote. "Go on;thou didst reach her; and what was that queen of beauty doing?Surely thou didst find her stringing pearls, or embroidering somedevice in gold thread for this her enslaved knight."

"I did not," said Sancho, "but I found her winnowing two bushelsof wheat in the yard of her house."

"Then depend upon it," said Don Quixote, "the grains of that wheatwere pearls when touched by her hands; and didst thou look, friend?was it white wheat or brown?"

"It was neither, but red," said Sancho.

"Then I promise thee," said Don Quixote, "that, winnowed by herhands, beyond a doubt the bread it made was of the whitest; but go on;when thou gavest her my letter, did she kiss it? Did she place it onher head? Did she perform any ceremony befitting it, or what did shedo?"

"When I went to give it to her," replied Sancho, "she was hard at itswaying from side to side with a lot of wheat she had in the sieve,and she said to me, 'Lay the letter, friend, on the top of thatsack, for I cannot read it until I have done sifting all this."

"Discreet lady!" said Don Quixote; "that was in order to read itat her leisure and enjoy it; proceed, Sancho; while she was engaged inher occupation what converse did she hold with thee? What did sheask about me, and what answer didst thou give? Make haste; tell meall, and let not an atom be left behind in the ink-bottle."

"She asked me nothing," said Sancho; "but I told her how yourworship was left doing penance in her service, naked from the waistup, in among these mountains like a savage, sleeping on the ground,not eating bread off a tablecloth nor combing your beard, weepingand cursing your fortune."

"In saying I cursed my fortune thou saidst wrong," said Don Quixote;"for rather do I bless it and shall bless it all the days of my lifefor having made me worthy of aspiring to love so lofty a lady asDulcinea del Toboso."

"And so lofty she is," said Sancho, "that she overtops me by morethan a hand's-breadth."

"What! Sancho," said Don Quixote, "didst thou measure with her?"

"I measured in this way," said Sancho; "going to help her to put asack of wheat on the back of an ass, we came so close together thatI could see she stood more than a good palm over me."

"Well!" said Don Quixote, "and doth she not of a truth accompany andadorn this greatness with a thousand million charms of mind! But onething thou wilt not deny, Sancho; when thou camest close to herdidst thou not perceive a Sabaean odour, an aromatic fragrance, a, Iknow not what, delicious, that I cannot find a name for; I mean aredolence, an exhalation, as if thou wert in the shop of some daintyglover?"

"All I can say is," said Sancho, "that I did perceive a littleodour, something goaty; it must have been that she was all in asweat with hard work."

"It could not be that," said Don Quixote, "but thou must have beensuffering from cold in the head, or must have smelt thyself; for Iknow well what would be the scent of that rose among thorns, that lilyof the field, that dissolved amber."

"Maybe so," replied Sancho; "there often comes from myself that sameodour which then seemed to me to come from her grace the ladyDulcinea; but that's no wonder, for one devil is like another."

"Well then," continued Don Quixote, "now she has done sifting thecorn and sent it to the mill; what did she do when she read theletter?"

"As for the letter," said Sancho, "she did not read it, for she saidshe could neither read nor write; instead of that she tore it upinto small pieces, saying that she did not want to let anyone readit lest her secrets should become known in the village, and thatwhat I had told her by word of mouth about the love your worshipbore her, and the extraordinary penance you were doing for her sake,was enough; and, to make an end of it, she told me to tell yourworship that she kissed your hands, and that she had a greaterdesire to see you than to write to you; and that therefore sheentreated and commanded you, on sight of this present, to come outof these thickets, and to have done with carrying on absurdities,and to set out at once for El Toboso, unless something else of greaterimportance should happen, for she had a great desire to see yourworship. She laughed greatly when I told her how your worship wascalled The Knight of the Rueful Countenance; I asked her if thatBiscayan the other day had been there; and she told me he had, andthat he was an honest fellow; I asked her too about the galley slaves,but she said she had not seen any as yet."

"So far all goes well," said Don Quixote; "but tell me what jewelwas it that she gave thee on taking thy leave, in return for thytidings of me? For it is a usual and ancient custom with knights andladies errant to give the squires, damsels, or dwarfs who bringtidings of their ladies to the knights, or of their knights to theladies, some rich jewel as a guerdon for good news,' andacknowledgment of the message."

"That is very likely," said Sancho, "and a good custom it was, to mymind; but that must have been in days gone by, for now it would seemto be the custom only to give a piece of bread and cheese; becausethat was what my lady Dulcinea gave me over the top of the yard-wallwhen I took leave of her; and more by token it was sheep's-milkcheese."

"She is generous in the extreme," said Don Quixote, "and if shedid not give thee a jewel of gold, no doubt it must have beenbecause she had not one to hand there to give thee; but sleeves aregood after Easter; I shall see her and all shall be made right. Butknowest thou what amazes me, Sancho? It seems to me thou must havegone and come through the air, for thou hast taken but little morethan three days to go to El Toboso and return, though it is morethan thirty leagues from here to there. From which I am inclined tothink that the sage magician who is my friend, and watches over myinterests (for of necessity there is and must be one, or else I shouldnot be a right knight-errant), that this same, I say, must have helpedthee to travel without thy knowledge; for some of these sages willcatch up a knight-errant sleeping in his bed, and without hisknowing how or in what way it happened, he wakes up the next daymore than a thousand leagues away from the place where he went tosleep. And if it were not for this, knights-errant would not be ableto give aid to one another in peril, as they do at every turn. For aknight, maybe, is fighting in the mountains of Armenia with somedragon, or fierce serpent, or another knight, and gets the worst ofthe battle, and is at the point of death; but when he least looksfor it, there appears over against him on a cloud, or chariot of fire,another knight, a friend of his, who just before had been inEngland, and who takes his part, and delivers him from death; and atnight he finds himself in his own quarters supping very much to hissatisfaction; and yet from one place to the other will have been twoor three thousand leagues. And all this is done by the craft and skillof the sage enchanters who take care of those valiant knights; sothat, friend Sancho, I find no difficulty in believing that thoumayest have gone from this place to El Toboso and returned in such ashort time, since, as I have said, some friendly sage must havecarried thee through the air without thee perceiving it."

Title: Don Quixote
Author: Miqeul de Cervantes
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