Miqeul de Cervantes >> Don Quixote (page 86)


'Twas at the very midnight hour- more or less- when Don Quixoteand Sancho quitted the wood and entered El Toboso. The town was indeep silence, for all the inhabitants were asleep, and stretched onthe broad of their backs, as the saying is. The night was darkish,though Sancho would have been glad had it been quite dark, so as tofind in the darkness an excuse for his blundering. All over theplace nothing was to be heard except the barking of dogs, whichdeafened the ears of Don Quixote and troubled the heart of Sancho. Nowand then an ass brayed, pigs grunted, cats mewed, and the variousnoises they made seemed louder in the silence of the night; allwhich the enamoured knight took to be of evil omen; nevertheless hesaid to Sancho, "Sancho, my son, lead on to the palace of Dulcinea, itmay be that we shall find her awake."

"Body of the sun! what palace am I to lead to," said Sancho, "whenwhat I saw her highness in was only a very little house?"

"Most likely she had then withdrawn into some small apartment of herpalace," said Don Quixote, "to amuse herself with damsels, as greatladies and princesses are accustomed to do."

"Senor," said Sancho, "if your worship will have it in spite of methat the house of my lady Dulcinea is a palace, is this an hour, thinkyou, to find the door open; and will it be right for us to go knockingtill they hear us and open the door; making a disturbance andconfusion all through the household? Are we going, do you fancy, tothe house of our wenches, like gallants who come and knock and go inat any hour, however late it may be?"

"Let us first of all find out the palace for certain," replied DonQuixote, "and then I will tell thee, Sancho, what we had best do;but look, Sancho, for either I see badly, or that dark mass that onesees from here should be Dulcinea's palace."

"Then let your worship lead the way," said Sancho, "perhaps it maybe so; though I see it with my eyes and touch it with my hands, I'llbelieve it as much as I believe it is daylight now."

Don Quixote took the lead, and having gone a matter of two hundredpaces he came upon the mass that produced the shade, and found itwas a great tower, and then he perceived that the building in questionwas no palace, but the chief church of the town, and said he, "It'sthe church we have lit upon, Sancho."

"So I see," said Sancho, "and God grant we may not light upon ourgraves; it is no good sign to find oneself wandering in a graveyard atthis time of night; and that, after my telling your worship, if Idon't mistake, that the house of this lady will be in an alley withoutan outlet."

"The curse of God on thee for a blockhead!" said Don Quixote; "wherehast thou ever heard of castles and royal palaces being built inalleys without an outlet?"

"Senor," replied Sancho, "every country has a way of its own;perhaps here in El Toboso it is the way to build palaces and grandbuildings in alleys; so I entreat your worship to let me searchabout among these streets or alleys before me, and perhaps, in somecorner or other, I may stumble on this palace- and I wish I saw thedogs eating it for leading us such a dance."

"Speak respectfully of what belongs to my lady, Sancho," said DonQuixote; "let us keep the feast in peace, and not throw the rope afterthe bucket."

"I'll hold my tongue," said Sancho, "but how am I to take itpatiently when your worship wants me, with only once seeing thehouse of our mistress, to know always, and find it in the middle ofthe night, when your worship can't find it, who must have seen itthousands of times?"

"Thou wilt drive me to desperation, Sancho," said Don Quixote. "Lookhere, heretic, have I not told thee a thousand times that I have neveronce in my life seen the peerless Dulcinea or crossed the threshold ofher palace, and that I am enamoured solely by hearsay and by the greatreputation she bears for beauty and discretion?"

"I hear it now," returned Sancho; "and I may tell you that if youhave not seen her, no more have I."

"That cannot be," said Don Quixote, "for, at any rate, thousaidst, on bringing back the answer to the letter I sent by thee, thatthou sawest her sifting wheat."

"Don't mind that, senor," said Sancho; "I must tell you that myseeing her and the answer I brought you back were by hearsay too,for I can no more tell who the lady Dulcinea is than I can hit thesky."

"Sancho, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "there are times for jests andtimes when jests are out of place; if I tell thee that I haveneither seen nor spoken to the lady of my heart, it is no reason whythou shouldst say thou hast not spoken to her or seen her, when thecontrary is the case, as thou well knowest."

While the two were engaged in this conversation, they perceived someone with a pair of mules approaching the spot where they stood, andfrom the noise the plough made, as it dragged along the ground, theyguessed him to be some labourer who had got up before daybreak to goto his work, and so it proved to be. He came along singing theballad that says-

Ill did ye fare, ye men of France,In Roncesvalles chase-

"May I die, Sancho," said Don Quixote, when he heard him, "if anygood will come to us tonight! Dost thou not hear what that clown issinging?"

"I do," said Sancho, "but what has Roncesvalles chase to do withwhat we have in hand? He might just as well be singing the ballad ofCalainos, for any good or ill that can come to us in our business."

By this time the labourer had come up, and Don Quixote asked him,"Can you tell me, worthy friend, and God speed you, whereabouts hereis the palace of the peerless princess Dona Dulcinea del Toboso?"

"Senor," replied the lad, "I am a stranger, and I have been only afew days in the town, doing farm work for a rich farmer. In that houseopposite there live the curate of the village and the sacristan, andboth or either of them will be able to give your worship someaccount of this lady princess, for they have a list of all thepeople of El Toboso; though it is my belief there is not a princessliving in the whole of it; many ladies there are, of quality, and inher own house each of them may be a princess."

"Well, then, she I am inquiring for will be one of these, myfriend," said Don Quixote.

"May be so," replied the lad; "God be with you, for here comes thedaylight;" and without waiting for any more of his questions, hewhipped on his mules.

Sancho, seeing his master downcast and somewhat dissatisfied, saidto him, "Senor, daylight will be here before long, and it will notdo for us to let the sun find us in the street; it will be betterfor us to quit the city, and for your worship to hide in some forestin the neighbourhood, and I will come back in the daytime, and I won'tleave a nook or corner of the whole village that I won't search forthe house, castle, or palace, of my lady, and it will be hard luck forme if I don't find it; and as soon as I have found it I will speakto her grace, and tell her where and how your worship is waiting forher to arrange some plan for you to see her without any damage toher honour and reputation."

"Sancho," said Don Quixote, "thou hast delivered a thousandsentences condensed in the compass of a few words; I thank thee forthe advice thou hast given me, and take it most gladly. Come, myson, let us go look for some place where I may hide, while thou dostreturn, as thou sayest, to seek, and speak with my lady, from whosediscretion and courtesy I look for favours more than miraculous."

Sancho was in a fever to get his master out of the town, lest heshould discover the falsehood of the reply he had brought to him inthe Sierra Morena on behalf of Dulcinea; so he hastened theirdeparture, which they took at once, and two miles out of the villagethey found a forest or thicket wherein Don Quixote ensconcedhimself, while Sancho returned to the city to speak to Dulcinea, inwhich embassy things befell him which demand fresh attention and a newchapter.



When the author of this great history comes to relate what is setdown in this chapter he says he would have preferred to pass it overin silence, fearing it would not he believed, because here DonQuixote's madness reaches the confines of the greatest that can beconceived, and even goes a couple of bowshots beyond the greatest. Butafter all, though still under the same fear and apprehension, he hasrecorded it without adding to the story or leaving out a particle ofthe truth, and entirely disregarding the charges of falsehood thatmight be brought against him; and he was right, for the truth mayrun fine but will not break, and always rises above falsehood as oilabove water; and so, going on with his story, he says that as soonas Don Quixote had ensconced himself in the forest, oak grove, or woodnear El Toboso, he bade Sancho return to the city, and not come intohis presence again without having first spoken on his behalf to hislady, and begged of her that it might be her good pleasure to permitherself to be seen by her enslaved knight, and deign to bestow herblessing upon him, so that he might thereby hope for a happy issuein all his encounters and difficult enterprises. Sancho undertook toexecute the task according to the instructions, and to bring back ananswer as good as the one he brought back before.

"Go, my son," said Don Quixote, "and be not dazed when thoufindest thyself exposed to the light of that sun of beauty thou artgoing to seek. Happy thou, above all the squires in the world! Bear inmind, and let it not escape thy memory, how she receives thee; ifshe changes colour while thou art giving her my message; if she isagitated and disturbed at hearing my name; if she cannot rest upon hercushion, shouldst thou haply find her seated in the sumptuous statechamber proper to her rank; and should she be standing, observe if shepoises herself now on one foot, now on the other; if she repeats twoor three times the reply she gives thee; if she passes from gentlenessto austerity, from asperity to tenderness; if she raises her hand tosmooth her hair though it be not disarranged. In short, my son,observe all her actions and motions, for if thou wilt report them tome as they were, I will gather what she hides in the recesses of herheart as regards my love; for I would have thee know, Sancho, ifthou knowest it not, that with lovers the outward actions andmotions they give way to when their loves are in question are thefaithful messengers that carry the news of what is going on in thedepths of their hearts. Go, my friend, may better fortune than mineattend thee, and bring thee a happier issue than that which I await indread in this dreary solitude."

"I will go and return quickly," said Sancho; "cheer up that littleheart of yours, master mine, for at the present moment you seem tohave got one no bigger than a hazel nut; remember what they say,that a stout heart breaks bad luck, and that where there are nofletches there are no pegs; and moreover they say, the hare jumps upwhere it's not looked for. I say this because, if we could not find mylady's palaces or castles to-night, now that it is daylight I countupon finding them when I least expect it, and once found, leave itto me to manage her."

"Verily, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "thou dost always bring in thyproverbs happily, whatever we deal with; may God give me better luckin what I am anxious about."

With this, Sancho wheeled about and gave Dapple the stick, and DonQuixote remained behind, seated on his horse, resting in hisstirrups and leaning on the end of his lance, filled with sad andtroubled forebodings; and there we will leave him, and accompanySancho, who went off no less serious and troubled than he left hismaster; so much so, that as soon as he had got out of the thicket, andlooking round saw that Don Quixote was not within sight, he dismountedfrom his ass, and seating himself at the foot of a tree began tocommune with himself, saying, "Now, brother Sancho, let us knowwhere your worship is going. Are you going to look for some ass thathas been lost? Not at all. Then what are you going to look for? I amgoing to look for a princess, that's all; and in her for the sun ofbeauty and the whole heaven at once. And where do you expect to findall this, Sancho? Where? Why, in the great city of El Toboso. Well,and for whom are you going to look for her? For the famous knightDon Quixote of La Mancha, who rights wrongs, gives food to those whothirst and drink to the hungry. That's all very well, but do youknow her house, Sancho? My master says it will be some royal palace orgrand castle. And have you ever seen her by any chance? Neither Inor my master ever saw her. And does it strike you that it would bejust and right if the El Toboso people, finding out that you were herewith the intention of going to tamper with their princesses andtrouble their ladies, were to come and cudgel your ribs, and not leavea whole bone in you? They would, indeed, have very good reason, ifthey did not see that I am under orders, and that 'you are amessenger, my friend, no blame belongs to you.' Don't you trust tothat, Sancho, for the Manchegan folk are as hot-tempered as they arehonest, and won't put up with liberties from anybody. By the Lord,if they get scent of you, it will be worse for you, I promise you.Be off, you scoundrel! Let the bolt fall. Why should I go lookingfor three feet on a cat, to please another man; and what is more, whenlooking for Dulcinea will be looking for Marica in Ravena, or thebachelor in Salamanca? The devil, the devil and nobody else, has mixedme up in this business!"

Such was the soliloquy Sancho held with himself, and all theconclusion he could come to was to say to himself again, "Well,there's remedy for everything except death, under whose yoke we haveall to pass, whether we like it or not, when life's finished. I haveseen by a thousand signs that this master of mine is a madman fit tobe tied, and for that matter, I too, am not behind him; for I'm agreater fool than he is when I follow him and serve him, if there'sany truth in the proverb that says, 'Tell me what company thoukeepest, and I'll tell thee what thou art,' or in that other, 'Notwith whom thou art bred, but with whom thou art fed.' Well then, if hebe mad, as he is, and with a madness that mostly takes one thing foranother, and white for black, and black for white, as was seen when hesaid the windmills were giants, and the monks' mules dromedaries,flocks of sheep armies of enemies, and much more to the same tune,it will not be very hard to make him believe that some country girl,the first I come across here, is the lady Dulcinea; and if he does notbelieve it, I'll swear it; and if he should swear, I'll swear again;and if he persists I'll persist still more, so as, come what may, tohave my quoit always over the peg. Maybe, by holding out in thisway, I may put a stop to his sending me on messages of this kindanother time; or maybe he will think, as I suspect he will, that oneof those wicked enchanters, who he says have a spite against him,has changed her form for the sake of doing him an ill turn andinjuring him."

Title: Don Quixote
Author: Miqeul de Cervantes
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