Miqeul de Cervantes >> Don Quixote (page 57)

To all this Sancho listened with no little sorrow at heart to seehow his hopes of dignity were fading away and vanishing in smoke,and how the fair Princess Micomicona had turned into Dorothea, and thegiant into Don Fernando, while his master was sleeping tranquilly,totally unconscious of all that had come to pass. Dorothea wasunable to persuade herself that her present happiness was not all adream; Cardenio was in a similar state of mind, and Luscinda'sthoughts ran in the same direction. Don Fernando gave thanks to Heavenfor the favour shown to him and for having been rescued from theintricate labyrinth in which he had been brought so near thedestruction of his good name and of his soul; and in short everybodyin the inn was full of contentment and satisfaction at the happy issueof such a complicated and hopeless business. The curate as asensible man made sound reflections upon the whole affair, andcongratulated each upon his good fortune; but the one that was inthe highest spirits and good humour was the landlady, because of thepromise Cardenio and the curate had given her to pay for all thelosses and damage she had sustained through Don Quixote's means.Sancho, as has been already said, was the only one who was distressed,unhappy, and dejected; and so with a long face he went in to hismaster, who had just awoke, and said to him:

"Sir Rueful Countenance, your worship may as well sleep on as muchas you like, without troubling yourself about killing any giant orrestoring her kingdom to the princess; for that is all over andsettled now."

"I should think it was," replied Don Quixote, "for I have had themost prodigious and stupendous battle with the giant that I everremember having had all the days of my life; and with one back-stroke-swish!- I brought his head tumbling to the ground, and so much bloodgushed forth from him that it ran in rivulets over the earth likewater."

"Like red wine, your worship had better say," replied Sancho;"for I would have you know, if you don't know it, that the deadgiant is a hacked wine-skin, and the blood four-and-twenty gallonsof red wine that it had in its belly, and the cut-off head is thebitch that bore me; and the devil take it all."

"What art thou talking about, fool?" said Don Quixote; "art thouin thy senses?"

"Let your worship get up," said Sancho, "and you will see the nicebusiness you have made of it, and what we have to pay; and you willsee the queen turned into a private lady called Dorothea, and otherthings that will astonish you, if you understand them."

"I shall not be surprised at anything of the kind," returned DonQuixote; "for if thou dost remember the last time we were here Itold thee that everything that happened here was a matter ofenchantment, and it would be no wonder if it were the same now."

"I could believe all that," replied Sancho, "if my blanketing wasthe same sort of thing also; only it wasn't, but real and genuine; forI saw the landlord, Who is here to-day, holding one end of the blanketand jerking me up to the skies very neatly and smartly, and with asmuch laughter as strength; and when it comes to be a case of knowingpeople, I hold for my part, simple and sinner as I am, that there isno enchantment about it at all, but a great deal of bruising and badluck."

"Well, well, God will give a remedy," said Don Quixote; "hand memy clothes and let me go out, for I want to see thesetransformations and things thou speakest of."

Sancho fetched him his clothes; and while he was dressing, thecurate gave Don Fernando and the others present an account of DonQuixote's madness and of the stratagem they had made use of towithdraw him from that Pena Pobre where he fancied himself stationedbecause of his lady's scorn. He described to them also nearly allthe adventures that Sancho had mentioned, at which they marvelledand laughed not a little, thinking it, as all did, the strangestform of madness a crazy intellect could be capable of. But now, thecurate said, that the lady Dorothea's good fortune prevented herfrom proceeding with their purpose, it would be necessary to devise ordiscover some other way of getting him home.

Cardenio proposed to carry out the scheme they had begun, andsuggested that Luscinda would act and support Dorothea's partsufficiently well.

"No," said Don Fernando, "that must not be, for I want Dorothea tofollow out this idea of hers; and if the worthy gentleman's village isnot very far off, I shall be happy if I can do anything for hisrelief."

"It is not more than two days' journey from this," said the curate.

"Even if it were more," said Don Fernando, "I would gladly travel sofar for the sake of doing so good a work.

"At this moment Don Quixote came out in full panoply, withMambrino's helmet, all dinted as it was, on his head, his buckler onhis arm, and leaning on his staff or pike. The strange figure hepresented filled Don Fernando and the rest with amazement as theycontemplated his lean yellow face half a league long, his armour ofall sorts, and the solemnity of his deportment. They stood silentwaiting to see what he would say, and he, fixing his eyes on the airDorothea, addressed her with great gravity and composure:

"I am informed, fair lady, by my squire here that your greatness hasbeen annihilated and your being abolished, since, from a queen andlady of high degree as you used to be, you have been turned into aprivate maiden. If this has been done by the command of the magicianking your father, through fear that I should not afford you the aidyou need and are entitled to, I may tell you he did not know anddoes not know half the mass, and was little versed in the annals ofchivalry; for, if he had read and gone through them as attentively anddeliberately as I have, he would have found at every turn that knightsof less renown than mine have accomplished things more difficult: itis no great matter to kill a whelp of a giant, however arrogant he maybe; for it is not many hours since I myself was engaged with one, and-I will not speak of it, that they may not say I am lying; time,however, that reveals all, will tell the tale when we least expectit."

"You were engaged with a couple of wine-skins, and not a giant,"said the landlord at this; but Don Fernando told him to hold histongue and on no account interrupt Don Quixote, who continued, "Isay in conclusion, high and disinherited lady, that if your father hasbrought about this metamorphosis in your person for the reason Ihave mentioned, you ought not to attach any importance to it; forthere is no peril on earth through which my sword will not force away, and with it, before many days are over, I will bring your enemy'shead to the ground and place on yours the crown of your kingdom."

Don Quixote said no more, and waited for the reply of theprincess, who aware of Don Fernando's determination to carry on thedeception until Don Quixote had been conveyed to his home, withgreat ease of manner and gravity made answer, "Whoever told you,valiant Knight of the Rueful Countenance, that I had undergone anychange or transformation did not tell you the truth, for I am the sameas I was yesterday. It is true that certain strokes of good fortune,that have given me more than I could have hoped for, have made somealteration in me; but I have not therefore ceased to be what I wasbefore, or to entertain the same desire I have had all through ofavailing myself of the might of your valiant and invincible arm. Andso, senor, let your goodness reinstate the father that begot me inyour good opinion, and be assured that he was a wise and prudentman, since by his craft he found out such a sure and easy way ofremedying my misfortune; for I believe, senor, that had it not beenfor you I should never have lit upon the good fortune I now possess;and in this I am saying what is perfectly true; as most of thesegentlemen who are present can fully testify. All that remains is toset out on our journey to-morrow, for to-day we could not make muchway; and for the rest of the happy result I am looking forward to, Itrust to God and the valour of your heart."

So said the sprightly Dorothea, and on hearing her Don Quixoteturned to Sancho, and said to him, with an angry air, "I declarenow, little Sancho, thou art the greatest little villain in Spain.Say, thief and vagabond, hast thou not just now told me that thisprincess had been turned into a maiden called Dorothea, and that thehead which I am persuaded I cut off from a giant was the bitch thatbore thee, and other nonsense that put me in the greatest perplexity Ihave ever been in all my life? I vow" (and here he looked to heavenand ground his teeth) "I have a mind to play the mischief with thee,in a way that will teach sense for the future to all lying squiresof knights-errant in the world."

"Let your worship be calm, senor," returned Sancho, "for it may wellbe that I have been mistaken as to the change of the lady princessMicomicona; but as to the giant's head, or at least as to the piercingof the wine-skins, and the blood being red wine, I make no mistake, assure as there is a God; because the wounded skins are there at thehead of your worship's bed, and the wine has made a lake of theroom; if not you will see when the eggs come to be fried; I meanwhen his worship the landlord calls for all the damages: for the rest,I am heartily glad that her ladyship the queen is as she was, for itconcerns me as much as anyone."

"I tell thee again, Sancho, thou art a fool," said Don Quixote;"forgive me, and that will do."

"That will do," said Don Fernando; "let us say no more about it; andas her ladyship the princess proposes to set out to-morrow becauseit is too late to-day, so be it, and we will pass the night inpleasant conversation, and to-morrow we will all accompany Senor DonQuixote; for we wish to witness the valiant and unparalleledachievements he is about to perform in the course of this mightyenterprise which he has undertaken."

"It is I who shall wait upon and accompany you," said Don Quixote;"and I am much gratified by the favour that is bestowed upon me, andthe good opinion entertained of me, which I shall strive to justify orit shall cost me my life, or even more, if it can possibly cost memore."

Many were the compliments and expressions of politeness thatpassed between Don Quixote and Don Fernando; but they were broughtto an end by a traveller who at this moment entered the inn, and whoseemed from his attire to be a Christian lately come from thecountry of the Moors, for he was dressed in a short-skirted coat ofblue cloth with half-sleeves and without a collar; his breeches werealso of blue cloth, and his cap of the same colour, and he wore yellowbuskins and had a Moorish cutlass slung from a baldric across hisbreast. Behind him, mounted upon an ass, there came a woman dressed inMoorish fashion, with her face veiled and a scarf on her head, andwearing a little brocaded cap, and a mantle that covered her fromher shoulders to her feet. The man was of a robust andwell-proportioned frame, in age a little over forty, rather swarthy incomplexion, with long moustaches and a full beard, and, in short,his appearance was such that if he had been well dressed he would havebeen taken for a person of quality and good birth. On entering heasked for a room, and when they told him there was none in the innhe seemed distressed, and approaching her who by her dress seemed tobe a Moor he her down from saddle in his arms. Luscinda, Dorothea, thelandlady, her daughter and Maritornes, attracted by the strange, andto them entirely new costume, gathered round her; and Dorothea, whowas always kindly, courteous, and quick-witted, perceiving that bothshe and the man who had brought her were annoyed at not finding aroom, said to her, "Do not be put out, senora, by the discomfort andwant of luxuries here, for it is the way of road-side inns to bewithout them; still, if you will be pleased to share our lodgingwith us (pointing to Luscinda) perhaps you will have found worseaccommodation in the course of your journey."

To this the veiled lady made no reply; all she did was to risefrom her seat, crossing her hands upon her bosom, bowing her headand bending her body as a sign that she returned thanks. From hersilence they concluded that she must be a Moor and unable to speak aChristian tongue.

At this moment the captive came up, having been until nowotherwise engaged, and seeing that they all stood round hiscompanion and that she made no reply to what they addressed to her, hesaid, "Ladies, this damsel hardly understands my language and canspeak none but that of her own country, for which reason she doesnot and cannot answer what has been asked of her."

"Nothing has been asked of her," returned Luscinda; "she has onlybeen offered our company for this evening and a share of thequarters we occupy, where she shall be made as comfortable as thecircumstances allow, with the good-will we are bound to show allstrangers that stand in need of it, especially if it be a woman towhom the service is rendered."

"On her part and my own, senora," replied the captive, "I kissyour hands, and I esteem highly, as I ought, the favour you haveoffered, which, on such an occasion and coming from persons of yourappearance, is, it is plain to see, a very great one."

"Tell me, senor," said Dorothea, "is this lady a Christian or aMoor? for her dress and her silence lead us to imagine that she iswhat we could wish she was not."

"In dress and outwardly," said he, "she is a Moor, but at heartshe is a thoroughly good Christian, for she has the greatest desire tobecome one."

"Then she has not been baptised?" returned Luscinda.

"There has been no opportunity for that," replied the captive,"since she left Algiers, her native country and home; and up to thepresent she has not found herself in any such imminent danger of deathas to make it necessary to baptise her before she has beeninstructed in all the ceremonies our holy mother Church ordains;but, please God, ere long she shall be baptised with the solemnitybefitting her which is higher than her dress or mine indicates."

Title: Don Quixote
Author: Miqeul de Cervantes
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