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Miqeul de Cervantes >> Don Quixote (page 54)


Leonela, as he told her, stanched her lady's blood, which was nomore than sufficed to support her deception; and washing the woundwith a little wine she bound it up to the best of her skill, talkingall the time she was tending her in a strain that, even if nothingelse had been said before, would have been enough to assure Anselmothat he had in Camilla a model of purity. To Leonela's words Camillaadded her own, calling herself cowardly and wanting in spirit, sinceshe had not enough at the time she had most need of it to ridherself of the life she so much loathed. She asked her attendant'sadvice as to whether or not she ought to inform her beloved husband ofall that had happened, but the other bade her say nothing about it, asshe would lay upon him the obligation of taking vengeance on Lothario,which he could not do but at great risk to himself; and it was theduty of a true wife not to give her husband provocation to quarrel,but, on the contrary, to remove it as far as possible from him.

Camilla replied that she believed she was right and that she wouldfollow her advice, but at any rate it would be well to consider howshe was to explain the wound to Anselmo, for he could not helpseeing it; to which Leonela answered that she did not know how to tella lie even in jest.

"How then can I know, my dear?" said Camilla, "for I should not dareto forge or keep up a falsehood if my life depended on it. If we canthink of no escape from this difficulty, it will be better to tell himthe plain truth than that he should find us out in an untrue story."

"Be not uneasy, senora," said Leonela; "between this and to-morrow Iwill think of what we must say to him, and perhaps the wound beingwhere it is it can be hidden from his sight, and Heaven will bepleased to aid us in a purpose so good and honourable. Composeyourself, senora, and endeavour to calm your excitement lest my lordfind you agitated; and leave the rest to my care and God's, who alwayssupports good intentions."

Anselmo had with the deepest attention listened to and seen playedout the tragedy of the death of his honour, which the performers actedwith such wonderfully effective truth that it seemed as if they hadbecome the realities of the parts they played. He longed for night andan opportunity of escaping from the house to go and see his goodfriend Lothario, and with him give vent to his joy over the preciouspearl he had gained in having established his wife's purity. Bothmistress and maid took care to give him time and opportunity to getaway, and taking advantage of it he made his escape, and at oncewent in quest of Lothario, and it would be impossible to describehow he embraced him when he found him, and the things he said to himin the joy of his heart, and the praises he bestowed upon Camilla; allwhich Lothario listened to without being able to show any pleasure,for he could not forget how deceived his friend was, and howdishonourably he had wronged him; and though Anselmo could see thatLothario was not glad, still he imagined it was only because he hadleft Camilla wounded and had been himself the cause of it; and soamong other things he told him not to be distressed about Camilla'saccident, for, as they had agreed to hide it from him, the wound wasevidently trifling; and that being so, he had no cause for fear, butshould henceforward be of good cheer and rejoice with him, seeing thatby his means and adroitness he found himself raised to the greatestheight of happiness that he could have ventured to hope for, anddesired no better pastime than making verses in praise of Camilla thatwould preserve her name for all time to come. Lothario commended hispurpose, and promised on his own part to aid him in raising a monumentso glorious.

And so Anselmo was left the most charmingly hoodwinked man therecould be in the world. He himself, persuaded he was conducting theinstrument of his glory, led home by the hand him who had been theutter destruction of his good name; whom Camilla received with avertedcountenance, though with smiles in her heart. The deception wascarried on for some time, until at the end of a few months Fortuneturned her wheel and the guilt which had been until then soskilfully concealed was published abroad, and Anselmo paid with hislife the penalty of his ill-advised curiosity.

CHAPTER XXXV

WHICH TREATS OF THE HEROIC AND PRODIGIOUS BATTLE DON QUIXOTE HADWITH CERTAIN SKINS OF RED WINE, AND BRINGS THE NOVEL OF "THEILL-ADVISED CURIOSITY" TO A CLOSE

There remained but little more of the novel to be read, whenSancho Panza burst forth in wild excitement from the garret whereDon Quixote was lying, shouting, "Run, sirs! quick; and help mymaster, who is in the thick of the toughest and stiffest battle I everlaid eyes on. By the living God he has given the giant, the enemy ofmy lady the Princess Micomicona, such a slash that he has sliced hishead clean off as if it were a turnip."

"What are you talking about, brother?" said the curate, pausing ashe was about to read the remainder of the novel. "Are you in yoursenses, Sancho? How the devil can it be as you say, when the giantis two thousand leagues away?"

Here they heard a loud noise in the chamber, and Don Quixoteshouting out, "Stand, thief, brigand, villain; now I have got thee,and thy scimitar shall not avail thee!" And then it seemed as thoughhe were slashing vigorously at the wall.

"Don't stop to listen," said Sancho, "but go in and part them orhelp my master: though there is no need of that now, for no doubtthe giant is dead by this time and giving account to God of his pastwicked life; for I saw the blood flowing on the ground, and the headcut off and fallen on one side, and it is as big as a largewine-skin."

"May I die," said the landlord at this, "if Don Quixote or Don Devilhas not been slashing some of the skins of red wine that stand full athis bed's head, and the spilt wine must be what this good fellow takesfor blood;" and so saying he went into the room and the rest afterhim, and there they found Don Quixote in the strangest costume inthe world. He was in his shirt, which was not long enough in frontto cover his thighs completely and was six fingers shorter behind; hislegs were very long and lean, covered with hair, and anything butclean; on his head he had a little greasy red cap that belonged to thehost, round his left arm he had rolled the blanket of the bed, towhich Sancho, for reasons best known to himself, owed a grudge, and inhis right hand he held his unsheathed sword, with which he wasslashing about on all sides, uttering exclamations as if he wereactually fighting some giant: and the best of it was his eyes were notopen, for he was fast asleep, and dreaming that he was doing battlewith the giant. For his imagination was so wrought upon by theadventure he was going to accomplish, that it made him dream he hadalready reached the kingdom of Micomicon, and was engaged in combatwith his enemy; and believing he was laying on the giant, he had givenso many sword cuts to the skins that the whole room was full ofwine. On seeing this the landlord was so enraged that he fell on DonQuixote, and with his clenched fist began to pummel him in such a way,that if Cardenio and the curate had not dragged him off, he would havebrought the war of the giant to an end. But in spite of all the poorgentleman never woke until the barber brought a great pot of coldwater from the well and flung it with one dash all over his body, onwhich Don Quixote woke up, but not so completely as to understand whatwas the matter. Dorothea, seeing how short and slight his attirewas, would not go in to witness the battle between her champion andher opponent. As for Sancho, he went searching all over the floorfor the head of the giant, and not finding it he said, "I see now thatit's all enchantment in this house; for the last time, on this veryspot where I am now, I got ever so many thumps without knowing whogave them to me, or being able to see anybody; and now this head isnot to be seen anywhere about, though I saw it cut off with my owneyes and the blood running from the body as if from a fountain."

"What blood and fountains are you talking about, enemy of God andhis saints?" said the landlord. "Don't you see, you thief, that theblood and the fountain are only these skins here that have beenstabbed and the red wine swimming all over the room?- and I wish I sawthe soul of him that stabbed them swimming in hell."

"I know nothing about that," said Sancho; "all I know is it willbe my bad luck that through not finding this head my county willmelt away like salt in water;"- for Sancho awake was worse than hismaster asleep, so much had his master's promises addled his wits.

The landlord was beside himself at the coolness of the squire andthe mischievous doings of the master, and swore it should not belike the last time when they went without paying; and that theirprivileges of chivalry should not hold good this time to let one orother of them off without paying, even to the cost of the plugs thatwould have to be put to the damaged wine-skins. The curate was holdingDon Quixote's hands, who, fancying he had now ended the adventureand was in the presence of the Princess Micomicona, knelt before thecurate and said, "Exalted and beauteous lady, your highness may livefrom this day forth fearless of any harm this base being could do you;and I too from this day forth am released from the promise I gave you,since by the help of God on high and by the favour of her by whom Ilive and breathe, I have fulfilled it so successfully."

"Did not I say so?" said Sancho on hearing this. "You see I wasn'tdrunk; there you see my master has already salted the giant; there'sno doubt about the bulls; my county is all right!"

Who could have helped laughing at the absurdities of the pair,master and man? And laugh they did, all except the landlord, whocursed himself; but at length the barber, Cardenio, and the curatecontrived with no small trouble to get Don Quixote on the bed, andhe fell asleep with every appearance of excessive weariness. They lefthim to sleep, and came out to the gate of the inn to console SanchoPanza on not having found the head of the giant; but much more workhad they to appease the landlord, who was furious at the suddendeath of his wine-skins; and said the landlady half scolding, halfcrying, "At an evil moment and in an unlucky hour he came into myhouse, this knight-errant- would that I had never set eyes on him, fordear he has cost me; the last time he went off with the overnightscore against him for supper, bed, straw, and barley, for himselfand his squire and a hack and an ass, saying he was a knightadventurer- God send unlucky adventures to him and all the adventurersin the world- and therefore not bound to pay anything, for it was sosettled by the knight-errantry tariff: and then, all because of him,came the other gentleman and carried off my tail, and gives it backmore than two cuartillos the worse, all stripped of its hair, sothat it is no use for my husband's purpose; and then, for afinishing touch to all, to burst my wine-skins and spill my wine! Iwish I saw his own blood spilt! But let him not deceive himself,for, by the bones of my father and the shade of my mother, theyshall pay me down every quarts; or my name is not what it is, and I amnot my father's daughter." All this and more to the same effect thelandlady delivered with great irritation, and her good maid Maritornesbacked her up, while the daughter held her peace and smiled fromtime to time. The curate smoothed matters by promising to make goodall losses to the best of his power, not only as regarded thewine-skins but also the wine, and above all the depreciation of thetail which they set such store by. Dorothea comforted Sancho,telling him that she pledged herself, as soon as it should appearcertain that his master had decapitated the giant, and she foundherself peacefully established in her kingdom, to bestow upon himthe best county there was in it. With this Sancho consoled himself,and assured the princess she might rely upon it that he had seen thehead of the giant, and more by token it had a beard that reached tothe girdle, and that if it was not to be seen now it was becauseeverything that happened in that house went by enchantment, as hehimself had proved the last time he had lodged there. Dorothea saidshe fully believed it, and that he need not be uneasy, for all wouldgo well and turn out as he wished. All therefore being appeased, thecurate was anxious to go on with the novel, as he saw there was butlittle more left to read. Dorothea and the others begged him to finishit, and he, as he was willing to please them, and enjoyed reading ithimself, continued the tale in these words:

The result was, that from the confidence Anselmo felt in Camilla'svirtue, he lived happy and free from anxiety, and Camilla purposelylooked coldly on Lothario, that Anselmo might suppose her feelingstowards him to be the opposite of what they were; and the better tosupport the position, Lothario begged to be excused from coming to thehouse, as the displeasure with which Camilla regarded his presence wasplain to be seen. But the befooled Anselmo said he would on no accountallow such a thing, and so in a thousand ways he became the authorof his own dishonour, while he believed he was insuring his happiness.Meanwhile the satisfaction with which Leonela saw herself empowered tocarry on her amour reached such a height that, regardless ofeverything else, she followed her inclinations unrestrainedly, feelingconfident that her mistress would screen her, and even show her how tomanage it safely. At last one night Anselmo heard footsteps inLeonela's room, and on trying to enter to see who it was, he foundthat the door was held against him, which made him all the moredetermined to open it; and exerting his strength he forced it open,and entered the room in time to see a man leaping through the windowinto the street. He ran quickly to seize him or discover who he was,but he was unable to effect either purpose, for Leonela flung her armsround him crying, "Be calm, senor; do not give way to passion orfollow him who has escaped from this; he belongs to me, and in fact heis my husband."

Title: Don Quixote
Author: Miqeul de Cervantes
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