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Miqeul de Cervantes >> Don Quixote (page 65)


"Leave it to me to find out that," said the curate; "though there isno reason for supposing, senor captain, that you will not be kindlyreceived, because the worth and wisdom that your brother's bearingshows him to possess do not make it likely that he will provehaughty or insensible, or that he will not know how to estimate theaccidents of fortune at their proper value."

"Still," said the captain, "I would not make myself knownabruptly, but in some indirect way."

"I have told you already," said the curate, "that I will manage itin a way to satisfy us all."

By this time supper was ready, and they all took their seats atthe table, except the captive, and the ladies, who supped bythemselves in their own room. In the middle of supper the curate said:

"I had a comrade of your worship's name, Senor Judge, inConstantinople, where I was a captive for several years, and that samecomrade was one of the stoutest soldiers and captains in the wholeSpanish infantry; but he had as large a share of misfortune as hehad of gallantry and courage."

"And how was the captain called, senor?" asked the Judge.

"He was called Ruy Perez de Viedma," replied the curate, "and he wasborn in a village in the mountains of Leon; and he mentioned acircumstance connected with his father and his brothers which, hadit not been told me by so truthful a man as he was, I should haveset down as one of those fables the old women tell over the fire inwinter; for he said his father had divided his property among histhree sons and had addressed words of advice to them sounder thanany of Cato's. But I can say this much, that the choice he made ofgoing to the wars was attended with such success, that by hisgallant conduct and courage, and without any help save his ownmerit, he rose in a few years to be captain of infantry, and to seehimself on the high-road and in position to be given the command ofa corps before long; but Fortune was against him, for where he mighthave expected her favour he lost it, and with it his liberty, onthat glorious day when so many recovered theirs, at the battle ofLepanto. I lost mine at the Goletta, and after a variety of adventureswe found ourselves comrades at Constantinople. Thence he went toAlgiers, where he met with one of the most extraordinary adventuresthat ever befell anyone in the world."

Here the curate went on to relate briefly his brother's adventurewith Zoraida; to all which the Judge gave such an attentive hearingthat he never before had been so much of a hearer. The curate,however, only went so far as to describe how the Frenchmen plunderedthose who were in the boat, and the poverty and distress in whichhis comrade and the fair Moor were left, of whom he said he had notbeen able to learn what became of them, or whether they had reachedSpain, or been carried to France by the Frenchmen.

The captain, standing a little to one side, was listening to all thecurate said, and watching every movement of his brother, who, assoon as he perceived the curate had made an end of his story, gave adeep sigh and said with his eyes full of tears, "Oh, senor, if youonly knew what news you have given me and how it comes home to me,making me show how I feel it with these tears that spring from my eyesin spite of all my worldly wisdom and self-restraint! That bravecaptain that you speak of is my eldest brother, who, being of a bolderand loftier mind than my other brother or myself, chose the honourableand worthy calling of arms, which was one of the three careers ourfather proposed to us, as your comrade mentioned in that fable youthought he was telling you. I followed that of letters, in which Godand my own exertions have raised me to the position in which you seeme. My second brother is in Peru, so wealthy that with what he hassent to my father and to me he has fully repaid the portion he tookwith him, and has even furnished my father's hands with the means ofgratifying his natural generosity, while I too have been enabled topursue my studies in a more becoming and creditable fashion, and so toattain my present standing. My father is still alive, though dyingwith anxiety to hear of his eldest son, and he prays God unceasinglythat death may not close his eyes until he has looked upon those ofhis son; but with regard to him what surprises me is, that having somuch common sense as he had, he should have neglected to give anyintelligence about himself, either in his troubles and sufferings,or in his prosperity, for if his father or any of us had known ofhis condition he need not have waited for that miracle of the reedto obtain his ransom; but what now disquiets me is the uncertaintywhether those Frenchmen may have restored him to liberty, ormurdered him to hide the robbery. All this will make me continue myjourney, not with the satisfaction in which I began it, but in thedeepest melancholy and sadness. Oh dear brother! that I only knewwhere thou art now, and I would hasten to seek thee out and deliverthee from thy sufferings, though it were to cost me sufferingmyself! Oh that I could bring news to our old father that thou artalive, even wert thou the deepest dungeon of Barbary; for his wealthand my brother's and mine would rescue thee thence! Oh beautiful andgenerous Zoraida, that I could repay thy good goodness to a brother!That I could be present at the new birth of thy soul, and at thybridal that would give us all such happiness!"

All this and more the Judge uttered with such deep emotion at thenews he had received of his brother that all who heard him shared init, showing their sympathy with his sorrow. The curate, seeing,then, how well he had succeeded in carrying out his purpose and thecaptain's wishes, had no desire to keep them unhappy any longer, so herose from the table and going into the room where Zoraida was hetook her by the hand, Luscinda, Dorothea, and the Judge's daughterfollowing her. The captain was waiting to see what the curate woulddo, when the latter, taking him with the other hand, advanced withboth of them to where the Judge and the other gentlemen were and said,"Let your tears cease to flow, Senor Judge, and the wish of your heartbe gratified as fully as you could desire, for you have before youyour worthy brother and your good sister-in-law. He whom you see hereis the Captain Viedma, and this is the fair Moor who has been so goodto him. The Frenchmen I told you of have reduced them to the state ofpoverty you see that you may show the generosity of your kind heart."

The captain ran to embrace his brother, who placed both hands on hisbreast so as to have a good look at him, holding him a little wayoff but as soon as he had fully recognised him he clasped him in hisarms so closely, shedding such tears of heartfelt joy, that most ofthose present could not but join in them. The words the brothersexchanged, the emotion they showed can scarcely be imagined, Ifancy, much less put down in writing. They told each other in a fewwords the events of their lives; they showed the true affection ofbrothers in all its strength; then the judge embraced Zoraida, puttingall he possessed at her disposal; then he made his daughter embraceher, and the fair Christian and the lovely Moor drew fresh tearsfrom every eye. And there was Don Quixote observing all thesestrange proceedings attentively without uttering a word, andattributing the whole to chimeras of knight-errantry. Then they agreedthat the captain and Zoraida should return with his brother toSeville, and send news to his father of his having been deliveredand found, so as to enable him to come and be present at themarriage and baptism of Zoraida, for it was impossible for the Judgeto put off his journey, as he was informed that in a month from thattime the fleet was to sail from Seville for New Spain, and to miss thepassage would have been a great inconvenience to him. In short,everybody was well pleased and glad at the captive's good fortune; andas now almost two-thirds of the night were past, they resolved toretire to rest for the remainder of it. Don Quixote offered to mountguard over the castle lest they should be attacked by some giant orother malevolent scoundrel, covetous of the great treasure of beautythe castle contained. Those who understood him returned him thanks forthis service, and they gave the Judge an account of hisextraordinary humour, with which he was not a little amused. SanchoPanza alone was fuming at the lateness of the hour for retiring torest; and he of all was the one that made himself most comfortable, ashe stretched himself on the trappings of his ass, which, as will betold farther on, cost him so dear.

The ladies, then, having retired to their chamber, and the othershaving disposed themselves with as little discomfort as they could,Don Quixote sallied out of the inn to act as sentinel of the castle ashe had promised. It happened, however, that a little before theapproach of dawn a voice so musical and sweet reached the ears ofthe ladies that it forced them all to listen attentively, butespecially Dorothea, who had been awake, and by whose side DonaClara de Viedma, for so the Judge's daughter was called, lay sleeping.No one could imagine who it was that sang so sweetly, and the voicewas unaccompanied by any instrument. At one moment it seemed to themas if the singer were in the courtyard, at another in the stable;and as they were all attention, wondering, Cardenio came to the doorand said, "Listen, whoever is not asleep, and you will hear amuleteer's voice that enchants as it chants."

"We are listening to it already, senor," said Dorothea; on whichCardenio went away; and Dorothea, giving all her attention to it, madeout the words of the song to be these:

CHAPTER XLIII

WHEREIN IS RELATED THE PLEASANT STORY OF THE MULETEER, TOGETHER WITHOTHER STRANGE THINGS THAT CAME TO PASS IN THE INN

Ah me, Love's mariner am IOn Love's deep ocean sailing;I know not where the haven lies,I dare not hope to gain it.

One solitary distant starIs all I have to guide me,A brighter orb than those of oldThat Palinurus lighted.

And vaguely drifting am I borne,I know not where it leads me;I fix my gaze on it alone,Of all beside it heedless.

But over-cautious prudery,And coyness cold and cruel,When most I need it, these, like clouds,Its longed-for light refuse me.

Bright star, goal of my yearning eyesAs thou above me beamest,When thou shalt hide thee from my sightI'll know that death is near me.

The singer had got so far when it struck Dorothea that it was notfair to let Clara miss hearing such a sweet voice, so, shaking herfrom side to side, she woke her, saying:

"Forgive me, child, for waking thee, but I do so that thou mayesthave the pleasure of hearing the best voice thou hast ever heard,perhaps, in all thy life."

Clara awoke quite drowsy, and not understanding at the moment whatDorothea said, asked her what it was; she repeated what she hadsaid, and Clara became attentive at once; but she had hardly heard twolines, as the singer continued, when a strange trembling seized her,as if she were suffering from a severe attack of quartan ague, andthrowing her arms round Dorothea she said:

"Ah, dear lady of my soul and life! why did you wake me? Thegreatest kindness fortune could do me now would be to close my eyesand ears so as neither to see or hear that unhappy musician."

"What art thou talking about, child?" said Dorothea. "Why, theysay this singer is a muleteer!"

"Nay, he is the lord of many places," replied Clara, "and that onein my heart which he holds so firmly shall never be taken from him,unless he be willing to surrender it."

Dorothea was amazed at the ardent language of the girl, for itseemed to be far beyond such experience of life as her tender yearsgave any promise of, so she said to her:

"You speak in such a way that I cannot understand you, Senora Clara;explain yourself more clearly, and tell me what is this you are sayingabout hearts and places and this musician whose voice has so movedyou? But do not tell me anything now; I do not want to lose thepleasure I get from listening to the singer by giving my attentionto your transports, for I perceive he is beginning to sing a newstrain and a new air."

"Let him, in Heaven's name," returned Clara; and not to hear him shestopped both ears with her hands, at which Dorothea was againsurprised; but turning her attention to the song she found that it ranin this fashion:

Sweet Hope, my stay,That onward to the goal of thy intentDost make thy way,Heedless of hindrance or impediment,Have thou no fearIf at each step thou findest death is near.

No victory,No joy of triumph doth the faint heart know;Unblest is heThat a bold front to Fortune dares not show,But soul and senseIn bondage yieldeth up to indolence.

If Love his waresDo dearly sell, his right must be contest;What gold comparesWith that whereon his stamp he hath imprest?And all men knowWhat costeth little that we rate but low.

Love resoluteKnows not the word "impossibility;"And though my suitBeset by endless obstacles I see,Yet no despairShall hold me bound to earth while heaven is there.

Here the voice ceased and Clara's sobs began afresh, all whichexcited Dorothea's curiosity to know what could be the cause ofsinging so sweet and weeping so bitter, so she again asked her what itwas she was going to say before. On this Clara, afraid that Luscindamight overhear her, winding her arms tightly round Dorothea put hermouth so close to her ear that she could speak without fear of beingheard by anyone else, and said:

"This singer, dear senora, is the son of a gentleman of Aragon, lordof two villages, who lives opposite my father's house at Madrid; andthough my father had curtains to the windows of his house in winter,and lattice-work in summer, in some way- I know not how- thisgentleman, who was pursuing his studies, saw me, whether in churchor elsewhere, I cannot tell, and, in fact, fell in love with me, andgave me to know it from the windows of his house, with so many signsand tears that I was forced to believe him, and even to love him,without knowing what it was he wanted of me. One of the signs heused to make me was to link one hand in the other, to show me hewished to marry me; and though I should have been glad if that couldbe, being alone and motherless I knew not whom to open my mind to, andso I left it as it was, showing him no favour, except when myfather, and his too, were from home, to raise the curtain or thelattice a little and let him see me plainly, at which he would showsuch delight that he seemed as if he were going mad. Meanwhile thetime for my father's departure arrived, which he became aware of,but not from me, for I had never been able to tell him of it. Hefell sick, of grief I believe, and so the day we were going away Icould not see him to take farewell of him, were it only with the eyes.But after we had been two days on the road, on entering the posadaof a village a day's journey from this, I saw him at the inn door inthe dress of a muleteer, and so well disguised, that if I did notcarry his image graven on my heart it would have been impossible forme to recognise him. But I knew him, and I was surprised, and glad; hewatched me, unsuspected by my father, from whom he always hideshimself when he crosses my path on the road, or in the posadas wherewe halt; and, as I know what he is, and reflect that for love of me hemakes this journey on foot in all this hardship, I am ready to dieof sorrow; and where he sets foot there I set my eyes. I know not withwhat object he has come; or how he could have got away from hisfather, who loves him beyond measure, having no other heir, andbecause he deserves it, as you will perceive when you see him. Andmoreover, I can tell you, all that he sings is out of his own head;for I have heard them say he is a great scholar and poet; and what ismore, every time I see him or hear him sing I tremble all over, and amterrified lest my father should recognise him and come to know of ourloves. I have never spoken a word to him in my life; and for all thatI love him so that I could not live without him. This, dear senora, isall I have to tell you about the musician whose voice has delightedyou so much; and from it alone you might easily perceive he is nomuleteer, but a lord of hearts and towns, as I told you already."

Title: Don Quixote
Author: Miqeul de Cervantes
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