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Miqeul de Cervantes >> Don Quixote (page 55)


Anselmo would not believe it, but blind with rage drew a daggerand threatened to stab Leonela, bidding her tell the truth or he wouldkill her. She, in her fear, not knowing what she was saying,exclaimed, "Do not kill me, senor, for I can tell you things moreimportant than any you can imagine."

"Tell me then at once or thou diest," said Anselmo.

"It would be impossible for me now," said Leonela, "I am soagitated: leave me till to-morrow, and then you shall hear from mewhat will fill you with astonishment; but rest assured that he wholeaped through the window is a young man of this city, who has givenme his promise to become my husband."

Anselmo was appeased with this, and was content to wait the time sheasked of him, for he never expected to hear anything againstCamilla, so satisfied and sure of her virtue was he; and so he quittedthe room, and left Leonela locked in, telling her she should notcome out until she had told him all she had to make known to him. Hewent at once to see Camilla, and tell her, as he did, all that hadpassed between him and her handmaid, and the promise she had given himto inform him matters of serious importance.

There is no need of saying whether Camilla was agitated or not,for so great was her fear and dismay, that, making sure, as she hadgood reason to do, that Leonela would tell Anselmo all she knew of herfaithlessness, she had not the courage to wait and see if hersuspicions were confirmed; and that same night, as soon as she thoughtthat Anselmo was asleep, she packed up the most valuable jewels shehad and some money, and without being observed by anybody escaped fromthe house and betook herself to Lothario's, to whom she related whathad occurred, imploring him to convey her to some place of safety orfly with her where they might be safe from Anselmo. The state ofperplexity to which Camilla reduced Lothario was such that he wasunable to utter a word in reply, still less to decide upon what heshould do. At length he resolved to conduct her to a convent ofwhich a sister of his was prioress; Camilla agreed to this, and withthe speed which the circumstances demanded, Lothario took her to theconvent and left her there, and then himself quitted the citywithout letting anyone know of his departure.

As soon as daylight came Anselmo, without missing Camilla from hisside, rose cager to learn what Leonela had to tell him, and hastenedto the room where he had locked her in. He opened the door, entered,but found no Leonela; all he found was some sheets knotted to thewindow, a plain proof that she had let herself down from it andescaped. He returned, uneasy, to tell Camilla, but not finding herin bed or anywhere in the house he was lost in amazement. He asked theservants of the house about her, but none of them could give him anyexplanation. As he was going in search of Camilla it happened bychance that he observed her boxes were lying open, and that thegreater part of her jewels were gone; and now he became fully aware ofhis disgrace, and that Leonela was not the cause of his misfortune;and, just as he was, without delaying to dress himself completely,he repaired, sad at heart and dejected, to his friend Lothario to makeknown his sorrow to him; but when he failed to find him and theservants reported that he had been absent from his house all night andhad taken with him all the money he had, he felt as though he werelosing his senses; and to make all complete on returning to his ownhouse he found it deserted and empty, not one of all his servants,male or female, remaining in it. He knew not what to think, or say, ordo, and his reason seemed to be deserting him little by little. Hereviewed his position, and saw himself in a moment left withoutwife, friend, or servants, abandoned, he felt, by the heaven abovehim, and more than all robbed of his honour, for in Camilla'sdisappearance he saw his own ruin. After long reflection he resolvedat last to go to his friend's village, where he had been stayingwhen he afforded opportunities for the contrivance of thiscomplication of misfortune. He locked the doors of his house,mounted his horse, and with a broken spirit set out on his journey;but he had hardly gone half-way when, harassed by his reflections,he had to dismount and tie his horse to a tree, at the foot of whichhe threw himself, giving vent to piteous heartrending sighs; and therehe remained till nearly nightfall, when he observed a manapproaching on horseback from the city, of whom, after saluting him,he asked what was the news in Florence.

The citizen replied, "The strangest that have been heard for manya day; for it is reported abroad that Lothario, the great friend ofthe wealthy Anselmo, who lived at San Giovanni, carried off last nightCamilla, the wife of Anselmo, who also has disappeared. All this hasbeen told by a maid-servant of Camilla's, whom the governor found lastnight lowering herself by a sheet from the windows of Anselmo's house.I know not indeed, precisely, how the affair came to pass; all Iknow is that the whole city is wondering at the occurrence, for no onecould have expected a thing of the kind, seeing the great and intimatefriendship that existed between them, so great, they say, that theywere called 'The Two Friends.'"

"Is it known at all," said Anselmo, "what road Lothario andCamilla took?"

"Not in the least," said the citizen, "though the governor hasbeen very active in searching for them."

"God speed you, senor," said Anselmo.

"God be with you," said the citizen and went his way.

This disastrous intelligence almost robbed Anselmo not only of hissenses but of his life. He got up as well as he was able and reachedthe house of his friend, who as yet knew nothing of his misfortune,but seeing him come pale, worn, and haggard, perceived that he wassuffering some heavy affliction. Anselmo at once begged to beallowed to retire to rest, and to be given writing materials. His wishwas complied with and he was left lying down and alone, for he desiredthis, and even that the door should be locked. Finding himself alonehe so took to heart the thought of his misfortune that by the signs ofdeath he felt within him he knew well his life was drawing to a close,and therefore he resolved to leave behind him a declaration of thecause of his strange end. He began to write, but before he had putdown all he meant to say, his breath failed him and he yielded uphis life, a victim to the suffering which his ill-advised curiosityhad entailed upon him. The master of the house observing that it wasnow late and that Anselmo did not call, determined to go in andascertain if his indisposition was increasing, and found him lyingon his face, his body partly in the bed, partly on thewriting-table, on which he lay with the written paper open and the penstill in his hand. Having first called to him without receiving anyanswer, his host approached him, and taking him by the hand, foundthat it was cold, and saw that he was dead. Greatly surprised anddistressed he summoned the household to witness the sad fate which hadbefallen Anselmo; and then he read the paper, the handwriting of whichhe recognised as his, and which contained these words:

"A foolish and ill-advised desire has robbed me of life. If the newsof my death should reach the ears of Camilla, let her know that Iforgive her, for she was not bound to perform miracles, nor ought I tohave required her to perform them; and since I have been the author ofmy own dishonour, there is no reason why-"

So far Anselmo had written, and thus it was plain that at thispoint, before he could finish what he had to say, his life came toan end. The next day his friend sent intelligence of his death tohis relatives, who had already ascertained his misfortune, as wellas the convent where Camilla lay almost on the point of accompanyingher husband on that inevitable journey, not on account of thetidings of his death, but because of those she received of her lover'sdeparture. Although she saw herself a widow, it is said she refusedeither to quit the convent or take the veil, until, not longafterwards, intelligence reached her that Lothario had been killedin a battle in which M. de Lautrec had been recently engaged withthe Great Captain Gonzalo Fernandez de Cordova in the kingdom ofNaples, whither her too late repentant lover had repaired. On learningthis Camilla took the veil, and shortly afterwards died, worn out bygrief and melancholy. This was the end of all three, an end thatcame of a thoughtless beginning.

"I like this novel," said the curate; "but I cannot persuademyself of its truth; and if it has been invented, the author'sinvention is faulty, for it is impossible to imagine any husband sofoolish as to try such a costly experiment as Anselmo's. If it hadbeen represented as occurring between a gallant and his mistress itmight pass; but between husband and wife there is something of animpossibility about it. As to the way in which the story is told,however, I have no fault to find."

CHAPTER XXXVI

WHICH TREATS OF MORE CURIOUS INCIDENTS THAT OCCURRED AT THE INN

Just at that instant the landlord, who was standing at the gate ofthe inn, exclaimed, "Here comes a fine troop of guests; if they stophere we may say gaudeamus."

"What are they?" said Cardenio.

"Four men," said the landlord, "riding a la jineta, with lancesand bucklers, and all with black veils, and with them there is a womanin white on a side-saddle, whose face is also veiled, and twoattendants on foot."

"Are they very near?" said the curate.

"So near," answered the landlord, "that here they come."

Hearing this Dorothea covered her face, and Cardenio retreatedinto Don Quixote's room, and they hardly had time to do so beforethe whole party the host had described entered the inn, and the fourthat were on horseback, who were of highbred appearance and bearing,dismounted, and came forward to take down the woman who rode on theside-saddle, and one of them taking her in his arms placed her in achair that stood at the entrance of the room where Cardenio had hiddenhimself. All this time neither she nor they had removed their veils orspoken a word, only on sitting down on the chair the woman gave a deepsigh and let her arms fall like one that was ill and weak. Theattendants on foot then led the horses away to the stable. Observingthis the curate, curious to know who these people in such a dressand preserving such silence were, went to where the servants werestanding and put the question to one of them, who answered him.

"Faith, sir, I cannot tell you who they are, I only know they seemto be people of distinction, particularly he who advanced to takethe lady you saw in his arms; and I say so because all the rest showhim respect, and nothing is done except what he directs and orders."

"And the lady, who is she?" asked the curate.

"That I cannot tell you either," said the servant, "for I have notseen her face all the way: I have indeed heard her sigh many times andutter such groans that she seems to be giving up the ghost every time;but it is no wonder if we do not know more than we have told you, asmy comrade and I have only been in their company two days, forhaving met us on the road they begged and persuaded us to accompanythem to Andalusia, promising to pay us well."

"And have you heard any of them called by his name?" asked thecurate.

"No, indeed," replied the servant; "they all preserve a marvelloussilence on the road, for not a sound is to be heard among themexcept the poor lady's sighs and sobs, which make us pity her; andwe feel sure that wherever it is she is going, it is against her will,and as far as one can judge from her dress she is a nun or, what ismore likely, about to become one; and perhaps it is because taking thevows is not of her own free will, that she is so unhappy as sheseems to be."

"That may well be," said the curate, and leaving them he returned towhere Dorothea was, who, hearing the veiled lady sigh, moved bynatural compassion drew near to her and said, "What are yousuffering from, senora? If it be anything that women are accustomedand know how to relieve, I offer you my services with all my heart."

To this the unhappy lady made no reply; and though Dorothea repeatedher offers more earnestly she still kept silence, until thegentleman with the veil, who, the servant said, was obeyed by therest, approached and said to Dorothea, "Do not give yourself thetrouble, senora, of making any offers to that woman, for it is her wayto give no thanks for anything that is done for her; and do not try tomake her answer unless you want to hear some lie from her lips."

"I have never told a lie," was the immediate reply of her who hadbeen silent until now; "on the contrary, it is because I am sotruthful and so ignorant of lying devices that I am now in thismiserable condition; and this I call you yourself to witness, for itis my unstained truth that has made you false and a liar."

Cardenio heard these words clearly and distinctly, being quite closeto the speaker, for there was only the door of Don Quixote's roombetween them, and the instant he did so, uttering a loud exclamationhe cried, "Good God! what is this I hear? What voice is this thathas reached my ears?" Startled at the voice the lady turned herhead; and not seeing the speaker she stood up and attempted to enterthe room; observing which the gentleman held her back, preventingher from moving a step. In her agitation and sudden movement thesilk with which she had covered her face fell off and disclosed acountenance of incomparable and marvellous beauty, but pale andterrified; for she kept turning her eyes, everywhere she coulddirect her gaze, with an eagerness that made her look as if she hadlost her senses, and so marked that it excited the pity of Dorotheaand all who beheld her, though they knew not what caused it. Thegentleman grasped her firmly by the shoulders, and being so fullyoccupied with holding her back, he was unable to put a hand to hisveil which was falling off, as it did at length entirely, andDorothea, who was holding the lady in her arms, raising her eyes sawthat he who likewise held her was her husband, Don Fernando. Theinstant she recognised him, with a prolonged plaintive cry drawnfrom the depths of her heart, she fell backwards fainting, and but forthe barber being close by to catch her in his arms, she would havefallen completely to the ground. The curate at once hastened touncover her face and throw water on it, and as he did so Don Fernando,for he it was who held the other in his arms, recognised her and stoodas if death-stricken by the sight; not, however, relaxing his grasp ofLuscinda, for it was she that was struggling to release herself fromhis hold, having recognised Cardenio by his voice, as he hadrecognised her. Cardenio also heard Dorothea's cry as she fellfainting, and imagining that it came from his Luscinda burst forthin terror from the room, and the first thing he saw was Don Fernandowith Luscinda in his arms. Don Fernando, too, knew Cardenio at once;and all three, Luscinda, Cardenio, and Dorothea, stood in silentamazement scarcely knowing what had happened to them.

Title: Don Quixote
Author: Miqeul de Cervantes
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