Miqeul de Cervantes >> Don Quixote (page 79)

"Indeed, Senor Don Quixote," said the barber, "I did not mean itin that way, and, so help me God, my intention was good, and yourworship ought not to be vexed."

"As to whether I ought to be vexed or not," returned Don Quixote, "Imyself am the best judge."

Hereupon the curate observed, "I have hardly said a word as yet; andI would gladly be relieved of a doubt, arising from what Don Quixotehas said, that worries and works my conscience."

"The senor curate has leave for more than that," returned DonQuixote, "so he may declare his doubt, for it is not pleasant tohave a doubt on one's conscience."

"Well then, with that permission," said the curate, "I say mydoubt is that, all I can do, I cannot persuade myself that the wholepack of knights-errant you, Senor Don Quixote, have mentioned, werereally and truly persons of flesh and blood, that ever lived in theworld; on the contrary, I suspect it to be all fiction, fable, andfalsehood, and dreams told by men awakened from sleep, or rather stillhalf asleep."

"That is another mistake," replied Don Quixote, "into which manyhave fallen who do not believe that there ever were such knights inthe world, and I have often, with divers people and on diversoccasions, tried to expose this almost universal error to the light oftruth. Sometimes I have not been successful in my purpose, sometimes Ihave, supporting it upon the shoulders of the truth; which truth is soclear that I can almost say I have with my own eyes seen Amadis ofGaul, who was a man of lofty stature, fair complexion, with a handsomethough black beard, of a countenance between gentle and stern inexpression, sparing of words, slow to anger, and quick to put itaway from him; and as I have depicted Amadis, so I could, I think,portray and describe all the knights-errant that are in all thehistories in the world; for by the perception I have that they werewhat their histories describe, and by the deeds they did and thedispositions they displayed, it is possible, with the aid of soundphilosophy, to deduce their features, complexion, and stature."

"How big, in your worship's opinion, may the giant Morgante havebeen, Senor Don Quixote?" asked the barber.

"With regard to giants," replied Don Quixote, "opinions differ as towhether there ever were any or not in the world; but the HolyScripture, which cannot err by a jot from the truth, shows us thatthere were, when it gives us the history of that big Philistine,Goliath, who was seven cubits and a half in height, which is a hugesize. Likewise, in the island of Sicily, there have been foundleg-bones and arm-bones so large that their size makes it plain thattheir owners were giants, and as tall as great towers; geometry putsthis fact beyond a doubt. But, for all that, I cannot speak withcertainty as to the size of Morgante, though I suspect he cannothave been very tall; and I am inclined to be of this opinion because Ifind in the history in which his deeds are particularly mentioned,that he frequently slept under a roof and as he found houses tocontain him, it is clear that his bulk could not have been anythingexcessive."

"That is true," said the curate, and yielding to the enjoyment ofhearing such nonsense, he asked him what was his notion of thefeatures of Reinaldos of Montalban, and Don Roland and the rest of theTwelve Peers of France, for they were all knights-errant.

"As for Reinaldos," replied Don Quixote, "I venture to say that hewas broad-faced, of ruddy complexion, with roguish and somewhatprominent eyes, excessively punctilious and touchy, and given to thesociety of thieves and scapegraces. With regard to Roland, orRotolando, or Orlando (for the histories call him by all these names),I am of opinion, and hold, that he was of middle height,broad-shouldered, rather bow-legged, swarthy-complexioned,red-bearded, with a hairy body and a severe expression of countenance,a man of few words, but very polite and well-bred."

"If Roland was not a more graceful person than your worship hasdescribed," said the curate, "it is no wonder that the fair LadyAngelica rejected him and left him for the gaiety, liveliness, andgrace of that budding-bearded little Moor to whom she surrenderedherself; and she showed her sense in falling in love with the gentlesoftness of Medoro rather than the roughness of Roland."

"That Angelica, senor curate," returned Don Quixote, "was a giddydamsel, flighty and somewhat wanton, and she left the world as full ofher vagaries as of the fame of her beauty. She treated with scorn athousand gentlemen, men of valour and wisdom, and took up with asmooth-faced sprig of a page, without fortune or fame, except suchreputation for gratitude as the affection he bore his friend got forhim. The great poet who sang her beauty, the famous Ariosto, notcaring to sing her adventures after her contemptible surrender(which probably were not over and above creditable), dropped her wherehe says:

How she received the sceptre of Cathay,Some bard of defter quill may sing some day;

and this was no doubt a kind of prophecy, for poets are also calledvates, that is to say diviners; and its truth was made plain; forsince then a famous Andalusian poet has lamented and sung her tears,and another famous and rare poet, a Castilian, has sung her beauty."

"Tell me, Senor Don Quixote," said the barber here, "among all thosewho praised her, has there been no poet to write a satire on this LadyAngelica?"

"I can well believe," replied Don Quixote, "that if Sacripante orRoland had been poets they would have given the damsel a trimming; forit is naturally the way with poets who have been scorned andrejected by their ladies, whether fictitious or not, in short by thosewhom they select as the ladies of their thoughts, to avenge themselvesin satires and libels- a vengeance, to be sure, unworthy of generoushearts; but up to the present I have not heard of any defamatory verseagainst the Lady Angelica, who turned the world upside down."

"Strange," said the curate; but at this moment they heard thehousekeeper and the niece, who had previously withdrawn from theconversation, exclaiming aloud in the courtyard, and at the noise theyall ran out.



The history relates that the outcry Don Quixote, the curate, and thebarber heard came from the niece and the housekeeper exclaiming toSancho, who was striving to force his way in to see Don Quixotewhile they held the door against him, "What does the vagabond wantin this house? Be off to your own, brother, for it is you, and noone else, that delude my master, and lead him astray, and take himtramping about the country."

To which Sancho replied, "Devil's own housekeeper! it is I who amdeluded, and led astray, and taken tramping about the country, and notthy master! He has carried me all over the world, and you are mightilymistaken. He enticed me away from home by a trick, promising me anisland, which I am still waiting for."

"May evil islands choke thee, thou detestable Sancho," said theniece; "What are islands? Is it something to eat, glutton andgormandiser that thou art?"

"It is not something to eat," replied Sancho, "but something togovern and rule, and better than four cities or four judgeships atcourt."

"For all that," said the housekeeper, "you don't enter here, you bagof mischief and sack of knavery; go govern your house and dig yourseed-patch, and give over looking for islands or shylands."

The curate and the barber listened with great amusement to the wordsof the three; but Don Quixote, uneasy lest Sancho should blab andblurt out a whole heap of mischievous stupidities, and touch uponpoints that might not be altogether to his credit, called to him andmade the other two hold their tongues and let him come in. Sanchoentered, and the curate and the barber took their leave of DonQuixote, of whose recovery they despaired when they saw how weddedhe was to his crazy ideas, and how saturated with the nonsense ofhis unlucky chivalry; and said the curate to the barber, "You willsee, gossip, that when we are least thinking of it, our gentleman willbe off once more for another flight."

"I have no doubt of it," returned the barber; "but I do not wonderso much at the madness of the knight as at the simplicity of thesquire, who has such a firm belief in all that about the island,that I suppose all the exposures that could be imagined would notget it out of his head."

"God help them," said the curate; "and let us be on the look-outto see what comes of all these absurdities of the knight and squire,for it seems as if they had both been cast in the same mould, andthe madness of the master without the simplicity of the man wouldnot be worth a farthing."

"That is true," said the barber, "and I should like very much toknow what the pair are talking about at this moment."

"I promise you," said the curate, "the niece or the housekeeper willtell us by-and-by, for they are not the ones to forget to listen."

Meanwhile Don Quixote shut himself up in his room with Sancho, andwhen they were alone he said to him, "It grieves me greatly, Sancho,that thou shouldst have said, and sayest, that I took thee out ofthy cottage, when thou knowest I did not remain in my house. Wesallied forth together, we took the road together, we wanderedabroad together; we have had the same fortune and the same luck; ifthey blanketed thee once, they belaboured me a hundred times, and thatis the only advantage I have of thee."

"That was only reasonable," replied Sancho, "for, by what yourworship says, misfortunes belong more properly to knights-errantthan to their squires."

"Thou art mistaken, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "according to themaxim quando caput dolet, &c."

"I don't understand any language but my own," said Sancho.

"I mean to say," said Don Quixote, "that when the head suffers allthe members suffer; and so, being thy lord and master, I am thyhead, and thou a part of me as thou art my servant; and thereforeany evil that affects or shall affect me should give thee pain, andwhat affects thee give pain to me."

"It should be so," said Sancho; "but when I was blanketed as amember, my head was on the other side of the wall, looking on whileI was flying through the air, and did not feel any pain whatever;and if the members are obliged to feel the suffering of the head, itshould be obliged to feel their sufferings."

"Dost thou mean to say now, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "that I didnot feel when they were blanketing thee? If thou dost, thou must notsay so or think so, for I felt more pain then in spirit than thoudidst in body. But let us put that aside for the present, for we shallhave opportunities enough for considering and settling the point; tellme, Sancho my friend, what do they say about me in the village here?What do the common people think of me? What do the hidalgos? What dothe caballeros? What do they say of my valour; of my achievements;of my courtesy? How do they treat the task I have undertaken inreviving and restoring to the world the now forgotten order ofchivalry? In short, Sancho, I would have thee tell me all that hascome to thine ears on this subject; and thou art to tell me, withoutadding anything to the good or taking away anything from the bad;for it is the duty of loyal vassals to tell the truth to their lordsjust as it is and in its proper shape, not allowing flattery to add toit or any idle deference to lessen it. And I would have thee know,Sancho, that if the naked truth, undisguised by flattery, came tothe ears of princes, times would be different, and other ages would bereckoned iron ages more than ours, which I hold to be the golden ofthese latter days. Profit by this advice, Sancho, and report to meclearly and faithfully the truth of what thou knowest touching whatI have demanded of thee."

"That I will do with all my heart, master," replied Sancho,"provided your worship will not be vexed at what I say, as you wish meto say it out in all its nakedness, without putting any more clotheson it than it came to my knowledge in."

"I will not be vexed at all," returned Don Quixote; "thou mayestspeak freely, Sancho, and without any beating about the bush."

"Well then," said he, "first of all, I have to tell you that thecommon people consider your worship a mighty great madman, and me noless a fool. The hidalgos say that, not keeping within the bounds ofyour quality of gentleman, you have assumed the 'Don,' and made aknight of yourself at a jump, with four vine-stocks and a couple ofacres of land, and never a shirt to your back. The caballeros say theydo not want to have hidalgos setting up in opposition to them,particularly squire hidalgos who polish their own shoes and darn theirblack stockings with green silk."

"That," said Don Quixote, "does not apply to me, for I always gowell dressed and never patched; ragged I may be, but ragged morefrom the wear and tear of arms than of time."

"As to your worship's valour, courtesy, accomplishments, and task,there is a variety of opinions. Some say, 'mad but droll;' others,'valiant but unlucky;' others, 'courteous but meddling,' and then theygo into such a number of things that they don't leave a whole boneeither in your worship or in myself."

"Recollect, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "that wherever virtueexists in an eminent degree it is persecuted. Few or none of thefamous men that have lived escaped being calumniated by malice. JuliusCaesar, the boldest, wisest, and bravest of captains, was charged withbeing ambitious, and not particularly cleanly in his dress, or pure inhis morals. Of Alexander, whose deeds won him the name of Great,they say that he was somewhat of a drunkard. Of Hercules, him of themany labours, it is said that he was lewd and luxurious. Of DonGalaor, the brother of Amadis of Gaul, it was whispered that he wasover quarrelsome, and of his brother that he was lachrymose. Sothat, O Sancho, amongst all these calumnies against good men, mine maybe let pass, since they are no more than thou hast said."

Title: Don Quixote
Author: Miqeul de Cervantes
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