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Miqeul de Cervantes >> Don Quixote (page 48)


While at dinner, the company consisting of the landlord, his wife,their daughter, Maritornes, and all the travellers, they discussed thestrange craze of Don Quixote and the manner in which he had beenfound; and the landlady told them what had taken place between him andthe carrier; and then, looking round to see if Sancho was there,when she saw he was not, she gave them the whole story of hisblanketing, which they received with no little amusement. But on thecurate observing that it was the books of chivalry which Don Quixotehad read that had turned his brain, the landlord said:

"I cannot understand how that can be, for in truth to my mindthere is no better reading in the world, and I have here two orthree of them, with other writings that are the very life, not only ofmyself but of plenty more; for when it is harvest-time, the reapersflock here on holidays, and there is always one among them who canread and who takes up one of these books, and we gather round him,thirty or more of us, and stay listening to him with a delight thatmakes our grey hairs grow young again. At least I can say for myselfthat when I hear of what furious and terrible blows the knightsdeliver, I am seized with the longing to do the same, and I would liketo be hearing about them night and day."

"And I just as much," said the landlady, "because I never have aquiet moment in my house except when you are listening to some onereading; for then you are so taken up that for the time being youforget to scold."

"That is true," said Maritornes; "and, faith, I relish hearing thesethings greatly too, for they are very pretty; especially when theydescribe some lady or another in the arms of her knight under theorange trees, and the duenna who is keeping watch for them half deadwith envy and fright; all this I say is as good as honey."

"And you, what do you think, young lady?" said the curate turning tothe landlord's daughter.

"I don't know indeed, senor," said she; "I listen too, and to tellthe truth, though I do not understand it, I like hearing it; but it isnot the blows that my father likes that I like, but the laments theknights utter when they are separated from their ladies; and indeedthey sometimes make me weep with the pity I feel for them."

"Then you would console them if it was for you they wept, younglady?" said Dorothea.

"I don't know what I should do," said the girl; "I only know thatthere are some of those ladies so cruel that they call their knightstigers and lions and a thousand other foul names: and Jesus! I don'tknow what sort of folk they can be, so unfeeling and heartless, thatrather than bestow a glance upon a worthy man they leave him to die orgo mad. I don't know what is the good of such prudery; if it is forhonour's sake, why not marry them? That's all they want."

"Hush, child," said the landlady; "it seems to me thou knowest agreat deal about these things, and it is not fit for girls to knowor talk so much."

"As the gentleman asked me, I could not help answering him," saidthe girl.

"Well then," said the curate, "bring me these books, senor landlord,for I should like to see them."

"With all my heart," said he, and going into his own room he broughtout an old valise secured with a little chain, on opening which thecurate found in it three large books and some manuscripts written in avery good hand. The first that he opened he found to be "DonCirongilio of Thrace," and the second "Don Felixmarte of Hircania,"and the other the "History of the Great Captain Gonzalo Hernandez deCordova, with the Life of Diego Garcia de Paredes."

When the curate read the two first titles he looked over at thebarber and said, "We want my friend's housekeeper and niece here now."

"Nay," said the barber, "I can do just as well to carry them tothe yard or to the hearth, and there is a very good fire there."

"What! your worship would burn my books!" said the landlord.

"Only these two," said the curate, "Don Cirongilio, and Felixmarte."

"Are my books, then, heretics or phlegmaties that you want to burnthem?" said the landlord.

"Schismatics you mean, friend," said the barber, "not phlegmatics."

"That's it," said the landlord; "but if you want to burn any, let itbe that about the Great Captain and that Diego Garcia; for I wouldrather have a child of mine burnt than either of the others."

"Brother," said the curate, "those two books are made up of lies,and are full of folly and nonsense; but this of the Great Captain is atrue history, and contains the deeds of Gonzalo Hernandez ofCordova, who by his many and great achievements earned the title allover the world of the Great Captain, a famous and illustrious name,and deserved by him alone; and this Diego Garcia de Paredes was adistinguished knight of the city of Trujillo in Estremadura, a mostgallant soldier, and of such bodily strength that with one finger hestopped a mill-wheel in full motion; and posted with a two-handedsword at the foot of a bridge he kept the whole of an immense armyfrom passing over it, and achieved such other exploits that if,instead of his relating them himself with the modesty of a knightand of one writing his own history, some free and unbiassed writer hadrecorded them, they would have thrown into the shade all the deedsof the Hectors, Achilleses, and Rolands."

"Tell that to my father," said the landlord. "There's a thing tobe astonished at! Stopping a mill-wheel! By God your worship shouldread what I have read of Felixmarte of Hircania, how with one singlebackstroke he cleft five giants asunder through the middle as ifthey had been made of bean-pods like the little friars the childrenmake; and another time he attacked a very great and powerful army,in which there were more than a million six hundred thousand soldiers,all armed from head to foot, and he routed them all as if they hadbeen flocks of sheep. And then, what do you say to the good Cirongilioof Thrace, that was so stout and bold; as may be seen in the book,where it is related that as he was sailing along a river there came upout of the midst of the water against him a fiery serpent, and he,as soon as he saw it, flung himself upon it and got astride of itsscaly shoulders, and squeezed its throat with both hands with suchforce that the serpent, finding he was throttling it, had nothingfor it but to let itself sink to the bottom of the river, carryingwith it the knight who would not let go his hold; and when they gotdown there he found himself among palaces and gardens so pretty thatit was a wonder to see; and then the serpent changed itself into anold ancient man, who told him such things as were never heard. Holdyour peace, senor; for if you were to hear this you would go madwith delight. A couple of figs for your Great Captain and your DiegoGarcia!"

Hearing this Dorothea said in a whisper to Cardenio, "Our landlordis almost fit to play a second part to Don Quixote."

"I think so," said Cardenio, "for, as he shows, he accepts it as acertainty that everything those books relate took place exactly asit is written down; and the barefooted friars themselves would notpersuade him to the contrary."

"But consider, brother, said the curate once more, "there neverwas any Felixmarte of Hircania in the world, nor any Cirongilio ofThrace, or any of the other knights of the same sort, that the booksof chivalry talk of; the whole thing is the fabrication andinvention of idle wits, devised by them for the purpose you describeof beguiling the time, as your reapers do when they read; for Iswear to you in all seriousness there never were any such knights inthe world, and no such exploits or nonsense ever happened anywhere."

"Try that bone on another dog," said the landlord; "as if I didnot know how many make five, and where my shoe pinches me; don't thinkto feed me with pap, for by God I am no fool. It is a good joke foryour worship to try and persuade me that everything these good bookssay is nonsense and lies, and they printed by the license of the Lordsof the Royal Council, as if they were people who would allow such alot of lies to be printed all together, and so many battles andenchantments that they take away one's senses."

"I have told you, friend," said the curate, "that this is done todivert our idle thoughts; and as in well-ordered states games ofchess, fives, and billiards are allowed for the diversion of those whodo not care, or are not obliged, or are unable to work, so books ofthis kind are allowed to be printed, on the supposition that, whatindeed is the truth, there can be nobody so ignorant as to take any ofthem for true stories; and if it were permitted me now, and thepresent company desired it, I could say something about thequalities books of chivalry should possess to be good ones, that wouldbe to the advantage and even to the taste of some; but I hope the timewill come when I can communicate my ideas to some one who may beable to mend matters; and in the meantime, senor landlord, believewhat I have said, and take your books, and make up your mind abouttheir truth or falsehood, and much good may they do you; and God grantyou may not fall lame of the same foot your guest Don Quixote haltson."

"No fear of that," returned the landlord; "I shall not be so madas to make a knight-errant of myself; for I see well enough thatthings are not now as they used to be in those days, when they saythose famous knights roamed about the world."

Sancho had made his appearance in the middle of this conversation,and he was very much troubled and cast down by what he heard saidabout knights-errant being now no longer in vogue, and all books ofchivalry being folly and lies; and he resolved in his heart to waitand see what came of this journey of his master's, and if it did notturn out as happily as his master expected, he determined to leave himand go back to his wife and children and his ordinary labour.

The landlord was carrying away the valise and the books, but thecurate said to him, "Wait; I want to see what those papers are thatare written in such a good hand." The landlord taking them outhanded them to him to read, and he perceived they were a work of abouteight sheets of manuscript, with, in large letters at the beginning,the title of "Novel of the Ill-advised Curiosity." The curate readthree or four lines to himself, and said, "I must say the title ofthis novel does not seem to me a bad one, and I feel an inclination toread it all." To which the landlord replied, "Then your reverence willdo well to read it, for I can tell you that some guests who haveread it here have been much pleased with it, and have begged it ofme very earnestly; but I would not give it, meaning to return it tothe person who forgot the valise, books, and papers here, for maybe hewill return here some time or other; and though I know I shall missthe books, faith I mean to return them; for though I am aninnkeeper, still I am a Christian."

"You are very right, friend," said the curate; "but for all that, ifthe novel pleases me you must let me copy it."

"With all my heart," replied the host.

While they were talking Cardenio had taken up the novel and begun toread it, and forming the same opinion of it as the curate, he beggedhim to read it so that they might all hear it.

"I would read it," said the curate, "if the time would not be betterspent in sleeping."

"It will be rest enough for me," said Dorothea, "to while away thetime by listening to some tale, for my spirits are not yet tranquilenough to let me sleep when it would be seasonable."

"Well then, in that case," said the curate, "I will read it, if itwere only out of curiosity; perhaps it may contain somethingpleasant."

Master Nicholas added his entreaties to the same effect, andSancho too; seeing which, and considering that he would givepleasure to all, and receive it himself, the curate said, "Wellthen, attend to me everyone, for the novel begins thus."

CHAPTER XXXIII

IN WHICH IS RELATED THE NOVEL OF "THE ILL-ADVISED CURIOSITY"

In Florence, a rich and famous city of Italy in the provincecalled Tuscany, there lived two gentlemen of wealth and quality,Anselmo and Lothario, such great friends that by way of distinctionthey were called by all that knew them "The Two Friends." They wereunmarried, young, of the same age and of the same tastes, which wasenough to account for the reciprocal friendship between them. Anselmo,it is true, was somewhat more inclined to seek pleasure in love thanLothario, for whom the pleasures of the chase had more attraction; buton occasion Anselmo would forego his own tastes to yield to those ofLothario, and Lothario would surrender his to fall in with those ofAnselmo, and in this way their inclinations kept pace one with theother with a concord so perfect that the best regulated clock couldnot surpass it.

Anselmo was deep in love with a high-born and beautiful maiden ofthe same city, the daughter of parents so estimable, and soestimable herself, that he resolved, with the approval of his friendLothario, without whom he did nothing, to ask her of them in marriage,and did so, Lothario being the bearer of the demand, and conductingthe negotiation so much to the satisfaction of his friend that in ashort time he was in possession of the object of his desires, andCamilla so happy in having won Anselmo for her husband, that shegave thanks unceasingly to heaven and to Lothario, by whose means suchgood fortune had fallen to her. The first few days, those of a weddingbeing usually days of merry-making, Lothario frequented his friendAnselmo's house as he had been wont, striving to do honour to himand to the occasion, and to gratify him in every way he could; butwhen the wedding days were over and the succession of visits andcongratulations had slackened, he began purposely to leave off goingto the house of Anselmo, for it seemed to him, as it naturally wouldto all men of sense, that friends' houses ought not to be visitedafter marriage with the same frequency as in their masters' bachelordays: because, though true and genuine friendship cannot and shouldnot be in any way suspicious, still a married man's honour is athing of such delicacy that it is held liable to injury from brothers,much more from friends. Anselmo remarked the cessation of Lothario'svisits, and complained of it to him, saying that if he had knownthat marriage was to keep him from enjoying his society as he used, hewould have never married; and that, if by the thorough harmony thatsubsisted between them while he was a bachelor they had earned sucha sweet name as that of "The Two Friends," he should not allow a titleso rare and so delightful to be lost through a needless anxiety to actcircumspectly; and so he entreated him, if such a phrase was allowablebetween them, to be once more master of his house and to come in andgo out as formerly, assuring him that his wife Camilla had no otherdesire or inclination than that which he would wish her to have, andthat knowing how sincerely they loved one another she was grieved tosee such coldness in him.

Title: Don Quixote
Author: Miqeul de Cervantes
Viewed 170471 times

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